Principal’s response to Archdiocese letter regarding St. Mary’s College free school bid
We are disappointed that Mr Tim Warren, Diocesan Director of Schools and Colleges for the Catholic Archdiocese of Liverpool, has chosen to write an open letter regarding our free school application which has been widely circulated.
We have no wish to enter into a public argument with the Archdiocese on this matter because, as we have said repeatedly, we understand and respect the position of the Catholic Bishops of England and Wales on the Government’s 50% cap on faith-based admissions.
We also note that the Catholic Bishops’ Conference has said it will continue to press politicians to modify this policy so that it no longer places a disproportionate disadvantage on the Catholic community, and we fully support their efforts to achieve this change.
Having said this, it is a matter of regret that there are a number of inaccuracies in Mr Warren’s letter. He says that St. Mary’s free school application was submitted without the approval of our Trustees. The Trustees were made fully aware in January that the application had been made and they agreed to make a decision in April or May of this year if the bid was successful. In the event that the current Free School application is approved by the Department for Education, all approvals will be sought and obtained prior to opening on 1st September 2015.
He also says the Archdiocese could block any possible change of status for the school. However, the College is an independent lay trust with wide powers including the ability to enter into any arrangement with government or local authority to further its aims. The jurisdiction of the Archbishop extends to specifically Catholic-related matters.
We believe the real issue here shouldn’t be about the pros and cons of a national policy, but what’s best in the specific case of St. Mary’s College, and the thousands of children who could benefit in the future from the widening of access to our great school.
This is especially true as we have clearly demonstrated that, even with the cap, our pupil profile would remain very similar to what it is at the moment - two thirds Catholic students and one third pupils of other faiths, or no faith.
Against this background, we will be seeking an urgent meeting to discuss this matter further with the new Archbishop of Liverpool, Malcolm McMahon, as soon as possible after he takes up his new post on May 1st. Ultimately, it will be his decision whether or not to recognise our proposed free school as Catholic or not.
Our fervent wish is to maintain our close links with the Archdiocese, and find a way of moving forward together, rather than letting an arbitrary Government policy divide us.
Please click on the links below to access Mr Warren’s original letter as well as Mr Kennedy’s response to it.
- St. Mary's College to continue progressing free school plans
- St. Mary's students take to the stage at the Phil
- St. Mary's history students visit Berlin
- St. Mary's pupils learn about life in Sierra Leone
- St. Mary's submits free school application to the Department for Education
- St. Mary's students enjoy successful Italian ski trip
- Senior Diplomat is VIP guest at St. Mary's College Prize Day
- St. Mary's students organise a night to remember
- Carol concert heralds the start of the festive season
- Kathryn scoops sports writing prize
- St. Mary's unveils free school proposals
- Biology Journal honour for St. Mary's science teacher
- Capital reunion for St. Mary's
- Former St. Mary's Head Girl returns to teach at the school
- Royal Society honour for St. Mary's College
- St. Mary's pupils join in the world's biggest coffee morning
- St. Mary's cadets help to commemorate Second World War battle
- Krishna and Rosie take up leading roles at St. Mary's
- St. Mary's students and staff celebrate excellent GCSE results
- Increase in top grade passes for St. Mary's students