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Consultation Letter
19 February 2018

Consultation Letter

Information on the merger and formation of a new Catholic Multi Academy Trust (CMAT) for the North of the Diocese of Middlesbrough.

The Diocese of Middlesbrough has 54 Catholic schools and academies spread across seven local authority areas, providing Catholic education to some 17,514 children and young people.

In the north of the Diocese, Redcar & Cleveland, Middlesbrough and Stockton on Tees, we provide education to approximately 9,100 children and young people in 25 schools and academies employing over 1,000 teachers and support staff.  24 out the 25 Diocesan schools in the north are academies operating within 4 separate geographical Catholic Multi Academy Trusts.  We have one remaining voluntary aided school, St Pius X RC Primary in Middlesbrough.

As your Bishop I asked staff in the Diocese and our school leaders, including governors, to review how, in their current structures, our schools work together and more importantly how this helps to support and improve Catholic education for all our children in all our schools.

The review has taken over 18 months to complete and been informed by discussions with the Department for Education and reference to high performing Catholic schools and academies across the country. This work has now reached the stage where I would like to inform you of the changes we wish to make to Catholic education in the north of the Diocese and to hear your thoughts as stakeholders in Catholic education. The new arrangements we are seeking to put in place will deliver vital changes to our current structures, changes we feel will benefit every pupil and every school.

Although ‘academies’ have been around for over a decade, the structure, accountability, operations and most noticeably the numbers of academies has developed dramatically in the last 4 to 5 years. In 2008 there were 83 academies whilst today there are almost 7,000 academies across the country.

Many of our schools have welcomed and embraced the collaborative approach that academy status has afforded them, seeking to share expertise and resources. However, our review has identified some key areas the Diocese and our schools feel collectively we can improve upon, specifically the governance and oversight of all 25 schools and academies in the North, the appropriateness of leadership structures to provide immediate and targeted support to secure and sustain high outcomes for our children and young people and the effective use of the collective resources of our Catholic family of schools.

We feel improvements in these areas are needed if we are to meet our ambitions of securing outstanding outcomes and a high quality Catholic education for all our children in all our schools.

Therefore, we are today providing information and inviting comment on a programme to merge the four existing Catholic Multi Academy Trusts that are home to 24 Catholic schools in the north of the Diocese, into one Catholic Multi Academy Trust for all 24 Diocesan academies in Redcar & Cleveland, Middlesbrough and Stockton on Tees. In addition, the one remaining Voluntary Aided Catholic School in Middlesbrough, St Pius X RC Primary School would become an academy and join the other 24 schools in the creation of our 25 school Catholic Multi Academy Trust (CMAT).

This “merged CMAT” has the support of the Department of Education, the Diocese, the Trust Boards of the existing CMATs responsible for the 24 Catholic academies in the north of the Diocese and the Governing Body of St Pius X RC Primary School.

The “merged CMAT” will be called “Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust” (NPCAT) and will employ a Chief Executive Officer who will provide dynamic and inspirational leadership to the Trust, ensuring the very highest standards of performance is achieved in all of our schools and that resources are directed appropriately towards need. They will also ensure the Catholic character and ethos of our school firmly roots Christ at the centre of all that we do.

Supported by a team of highly qualified school improvement experts, this new structure will allow us to provide immediate direct support and challenge to our schools, sharing expertise across the 25 schools more effectively. It also provides greater opportunities for staff development and training, and as a result, ensures that all of our schools provide the very best for our children and young people. Finally, each school will continue to develop its own unique character and ethos with a dedicated leadership and staff team serving their local families, parishes and wider community. We need to sustain and continue to develop the great things happening in many of our schools whilst ensuring the quality of Catholic education and outcomes achieved by all our children and young people in all of our schools rises to those of the best.

The newly formed CMAT Board will consist of a group of twelve highly skilled individuals who have a clear understanding of their wider corporate role in raising standards across all of our schools and protecting and promoting our Catholic mission.

In each individual school, a dedicated team of governors will ensure rigour and challenge continues at a local level and strong staff and parental representation will remain at local governance level. The Local Governing Body will also continue to work with and support the parents, carers, parishes and the wider local community.

The information giving and invitation for comments exercise with our key stakeholders will allow us to gather your views as we shape the development of the new CMAT and we will ensure these are taken into account as we implement our exciting and innovative plans.  The invitation to comment begins today, Monday 19th February 2018 and closes at 5pm on Friday 9th March 2018.

We have provided some frequently asked questions and a response form within this letter.  We will of course keep you updated on progress as we move forward with this proposal and it is anticipated these changes will take place from 1st September 2018.

Yours in blessed hope

Rt Rev Terence Patrick Drainey

Bishop of Middlesbrough

Bishops letter to Schools on new Trust