Stephen has joined seven other MPs in writing to the Rt Rev Alan Williams – the Bishop of Brentwood Diocese – to axe plans to turn Catholic schools into academies. Other signatories include Jon Cruddas, Dame Margaret Hodge, Lyn Brown, Mike Gapes, Wes Streeting, John Cryer and Stella Creasy. The group urged Bishop Williams to scrap proposals to form a multi-academies trust (MAT).
The letter stated: “We ask you to fully consider what would be lost by forming a Catholic MAT. There is ample evidence across the boroughs we represent of the positive influence and impact of local authority involvement – whether for admissions, buildings, expansion, SEND/Inclusion or School Improvement support – working in partnership with the Diocese.
“We believe there to be [a] strong case for remaining part of the local family of schools within our boroughs. The evidence suggests neither financial nor school improvement benefits necessarily accrue from academisation.”
Catholic church leaders are minded to convert all the schools in the Dicoese into academies by September. Under the plans the Diocese’s primaries and secondaries would combine to form Catholic Multi-Academy Trusts. The Diocese have argued that tighter budgets and challenges from people hostile to Catholic education have prompted the move.
The Diocese are yet to comment on the MPs letter.