A CHESTER high school has opted to convert to academy status from next month.
Governors of The Catholic High School in Handbridge approved the conversion plan following extensive consultation with staff, parents, partner schools and the Diocese of Shrewsbury.
Taking effect from March 1, the change means the school will now be funded direct from central government and not through Cheshire West and Chester Council.
Peter Devine, chair of governors, said: ‘We have great ambitions for the students at our school and great ambition for the school itself.
“OFSTED judged this school to be good, with outstanding aspects to its work.
“We want to move on now and make sure that we are aiming for an outstanding judgement next time the inspectors call.
“Becoming an academy is just part of this process. At our meeting we also discussed student achievement, the quality of teaching in the school and the quality of leadership.
“Central to this is the mission and ethos of our school.
“We are renewing our commitment to working with partner primary schools and with our partner parishes.
“Our school is and always will be an inclusive Catholic school.”
Headteacher John Murray, who has been in post since 2004, said there was some concern among staff about the impact of the change but this had now been addressed. “I am very grateful to the governors and the Diocese of Shrewsbury for their support in this process,” he said.
“Staff were concerned about what would happen to them if we converted to an academy, and both the governors and the diocese have made it clear that their terms and conditions are fully protected.
“Looking to the future I am really excited about what this can mean for our school. As teachers and governors, we can set out our priorities and make sure we deliver the very best Catholic education for all our students.”
Education secretary Michael Gove invited all schools to convert to academy status although priority has been given to top performing schools.
Other schools can apply in partnership with another good school and Mr Gove said academies would drive up standards by giving more power to headteachers and cutting bureaucracy.
Alex Scott, director of schools for the Diocese of Shrewsbury, explained The Catholic High School would now be part of a multi-academy trust. He said the trust would have an executive group, including governors from the school and diocesan representatives drawn from Catholic schools and parishes.
“On behalf of Bishop Mark Davies and the trustees of the diocese I wish the school every success in this venture, and we will do all we can to support the school,” he said.
“I’m sure the new executive will learn from this experience should other Catholic schools want to look into academy conversion.”