Liverpool Catholic turnaround trust gets green light to take on good schools

The government trial of a Catholic turnaround trust has been extended – weeks after it was revealed a similar minister-backed chain will shut.

St Joseph Catholic MAT has received the green light from the Department for Education to carry on absorbing struggling schools as part of the EdMAT pilot until December 2024.

CEO Andrew Truby said officials have also signed off on plans to allow it to take on ‘good’ and ‘outstanding’ academies in January – easing its transition out of the government scheme at the end of next year.

The approval means that the Trust can continue to onboard sponsored and converter academies until December 2024. St Joseph CMAT will then become CMAT 10 as a central Liverpool Trust as part of the Archdiocesan strategy.

The Archdiocese aims for every Catholic school to be part of a named Catholic Multi Academy Trust (CMAT). Its ongoing strategy is to set up 12 CMATs across the region which will be key in promoting, protecting and developing Catholic education and providing the very best opportunities for young people. The Trust is working closely with the Archdiocese of Liverpool on a phased approach to the onboarding of new schools from January 2024 onwards.

Joan McCarthy, Director of Education at the Archdiocese of Liverpool, said, “The Archdiocese of Liverpool welcomes the DfE announcement on the future of the St Joseph Catholic MAT. We look forward to working with the MAT and the DfE as we progress towards establishing CMAT 10 in line with our published strategy.”

The announcement comes St Joseph Catholic MAT prepares to welcome Notre Dame Catholic College as the third secondary academy in the Trust.

Ann Connor OBE, Chair of the SJCMAT Board, said, “I am delighted to welcome Notre Dame Catholic College to our family of schools. Women in my family had been educated by Notre Dame sisters for three generations when I became a pupil at Mount Pleasant. The sisters have given a dedicated and outstanding contribution to education in Liverpool since 1851. I am therefore very proud that St Joseph CMAT will be able to carry their charism onwards in the 21st century.”

In an interview with Schools Week, Mt Truby said “We got the MAT to a mature stage in a short space of time. We’ve had a significant impact on improving attendance, phonics and other key performance indicators.

“With any pilot there’s an element of uncertainty, but next year we will operate in a hybrid manner, so we’ll be able to take on sponsored and converter academies over that period.”

However, Mr Truby stressed that the news of St Joseph’s trial extension will give it “permanent status” and allow it to grow further.