Catholic schools academy debate

St John Fisher school on Oxford Road in Dewsbury. (D514C318)
St John Fisher school on Oxford Road in Dewsbury. (D514C318)
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Six Catholic schools in our district could become academies if new plans are approved.

St John Fisher and St Joseph’s in Dewsbury and Holy Spirit in Heckmondwike are consulting on a decision to leave Kirklees Council control to become part of a multi-Academy trust across Kirklees and Calderdale.

St Patrick’s in Birstall, St Mary’s in Batley and St Paulinus in Dewsbury may also decide join the trust at a later date.

Kevin Higgins, headteacher at St John Fisher, said he was in favour of the plan, which would allow Catholic schools to work together more closely.

Academies are funded by the government but have more control over their finances, the curriculum, and teachers’ pay and conditions.

A consultation by the Catholic Diocese of Leeds started last month and continues until May 17. “To make sure our children aren’t disadvantaged, we have to consider all the options available to us,” said Mr Higgins.

The consultation involves parents, pupils, governors and staff, as well as parish priests and councillors.

A report for the diocese said governance of the schools would remain ‘largely unchanged’, adding that they would have ‘the opportunity to share good teaching and learning, join together to buy resources and develop a collaborative way of working for the benefit of all our children and families.’