Catholic primary becomes academy

AN Eastwood primary school has converted to academy status.

Priory Catholic Primary School in Hilltop, Eastwood, has now become Priory Catholic Voluntary Academy and forms part of the Saint Robert Lawrence Academy Trust together with the Saint John Houghton Catholic Voluntary Academy in Kirk Hallam which also converted this month.

Priory headteacher Anthony Harrison told the Advertiser the decision would give them greater financial control over how they could invest their money in their students.

The decision to convert a voluntary-aided Catholic school to an academy lies with the local Bishop, in conjunction with the school trustees and governing body.

The two schools were already partners, with the vast majority of Priory pupils moving onto Saint John Houghton once they have finished primary school.

But Mr Harrison says the move was first and foremost made to ensure their remained a Catholic schooling option in the area.

“It is our 50th year here and this will help ensure there is still a Catholic school here for the next 50 years because of the way academies work and the control it gives us,” he said.

“It means we can ensure we can still teach the children whose parents want their children to be taught in a Catholic school for years to come.”

The change does not affect the school’s relationship with the local education authority Nottinghamshire County Council – as Priory will still be buying in services such as ground maintenance, kitchen staff and caretakers from the council.

And Mr Harrison also vowed their would be no adverse changes to the pay and working conditions of staff.

“Our whole ethos as a Catholic school is working for the common good of the community and there is no way the Bishop would have allowed us to become an academy if we were planning to do that,” he added.

“We will still have a good relationship with other schools in the area too.”

Saint John Houghton headteacher Bernard Monaghan, said in a letter to parents: “Since the election of the coalition government in May 2010 successful schools have been invited to convert to academy status and our Catholic Diocesan model is that schools convert in partnership subject to a decision by each governing body.

“The values, ethos and mission of our school will not change. They are rooted in our forty seven year history of providing a Catholic secondary education for all children aged 11 to 16.

“Our mission is to be of service to all who choose to send their child to our school.

“In caring for every child’s safety and well-being we create a secure learning environment where every child can reach their full potential both spiritually and academically.”

Mr Monaghan added: “We look forward to the many new opportunities that academy status brings, in particular greater freedoms and resources to focus on what is right and just for students, parents, staff and governors at Saint John Houghton.”