The Roman Catholic Church is set to take over struggling secular schools under Government plans designed to raise standards in the state education system. This is from the Telegraph…
Successful Catholic schools could be enlisted to act as “sponsors” to help run community primaries and secondaries in difficult circumstances, it was revealed.
The move would reverse an existing policy that prevents Catholic schools striking up federations with non-religious counterparts as part of the Government’s academies programme.
It comes two years after the Church of England embarked on a similar path which has resulted in a number of secular schools adopting a faith “ethos” under Anglican control.
The Government said it was keen to enlist the support of a range of bodies with a good track record of running schools to help address underperformance in parts of the state system.
But secular groups warned that the move could lead to the Catholic Church imposing its faith with “proselytising zeal”.
Andrew Copson, chief executive of the British Humanist Association, said: “We are alarmed that the Catholic Church is now seeking to extend its influence over the management of schools in a way never previously possible.”
Keith Porteous Wood, executive director of the National Secular Society, told the Times Educational Supplement: “Whenever you have a merger of amalgamation of a faith and non-faith school, everything always leans towards the faith.”
But Paul Barber, director of the Catholic Education Service, insisted that Catholic schools were already part of the state education system and “wanted to make a contribution” to driving up standards.
There are almost 2,200 Catholic schools in England – one-in-10 of the total. Around three-quarters are currently ranked “good” or better by Ofsted compared with two-thirds of other schools.
“They feel strongly that they are part of the wider family along with other schools; they share that collective responsibility,” he said.
He added: “We are trying to explore the various ways in which Catholic schools can, if they wish to, assist other schools, including those which aren’t Catholic.”