On Friday, Jon Cruddas, MP for Dagenham and Rainham, sent a letter to the Bishop of Brentwood, Bishop Alan Williams, signed by seven local MPs urging him to reconsider the academisation of Catholic Schools in the area.
Mr Cruddas said: "We believe there to be a strong case for remaining part of the local family of schools within our boroughs.
In these difficult and demanding times for schools we believe that alliances between longstanding partners such as our Councils and Catholic education should be valued and strengthened."
The Letter to Bishop Alan Williams follows:
Dear Bishop Alan,
We write to you as the Labour Members of Parliament representing the London boroughs of Barking and Dagenham, Newham, Redbridge and Waltham Forest, all situated within the Diocese of Brentwood. As a group of local representatives we understand and support the objective to preserve Catholic education. This joint letter seeks to reinforce our belief that all Catholic schools within the diocese should if they wish to, stay within the maintained sector.
Within all the boroughs that we represent, there exists a long and successful history of shared responsibility for voluntary-aided schools - between there Catholic Church and our local Councils. These partnerships have helped ensure that Catholic schools have continued to flourish in our boroughs within the Diocese.
It is our understanding that academisation is not a blanket policy of the Catholic Church in England. Moreover we further understand that a number of Dioceses have removed any direction on schools to change status following the Government move away from forced academisation.
We therefore 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 expansing SEND/inclusion or schools 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.
We would therefore request that Catholic schools remain within the maintained sector. In these difficult and demanding times for schools, we believe that alliances between longstanding partners such as our Councils and Catholic eduction should be valued and strengthened.
We hope that you will reflect on its content and on our shared objective of supporting Catholic schools and education for the residents we represent.
Jon Cruddas MP for Dagenham and Rainham,
Stella Creasy MP,
John Cryer MP,
Mike Gapes MP,
Margaret Hodge MP,
Wes Streeting MP,
Stephen Timms MP
Fr Stephen Myers, Episcopal Vicar for Education in the Diocese of Brentwood commented: "The decision taken by the Bishop to support the move to full academisation follows a consultation process that was started three years ago. This was done to safeguard the future of Catholic education in the Diocese and move in line with the Government's policy on academisation. The Diocese and the Schools have consulted widely with both parents and staff and the proposals have proved largely popular.
The process of academisation is now fully underway and we are working closely with the Department for Education and our Catholic schools, supporting them through this transition."
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