As a family of Catholic schools, the shape of the St Thomas Catholic Academies Trust (STCAT) is based on Catholic Social Teaching, which highlights two core principles:
- Solidarity – one family of schools, sharing with, supporting, and inspiring one another
- Subsidiarity – decisions and responsibility taken at the most appropriate local level
The structure of governance in STCAT reflects this shape
The Board is made up of Catholic volunteers, appointed by the Bishop. We are ultimately responsible for the performance and probity of the Trust as a whole, as well as for the nurturing of its Catholic Life. The Board focuses on: the strategic direction of the Trust; finances; policies and procedures where these need to be held in common across STCAT; the performance and standards across our family of schools; and the well-being and safety of all who are involved in STCAT. We are supported in our work by a professional Clerk, and our meetings are regularly attended by the Strategic Executive Leader and the Chief Finance Officer. Other senior staff bring reports for discussion from time to time.
In keeping with the subsidiarity principle, we believe that every school is unique, just as every person is. Thus, each school in STCAT is encouraged to maintain and develop its own identity, ethos, and mission under the over-arching STCAT banner: ‘The Glory of God is a Human Being Fully Alive’.
The governance of our schools is carried out by Local Academy Committees (LACs), which in formal terms are committees of the Board of Directors, with powers delegated by the Board. LACs are made up of volunteers, including parents, and Foundation Governors appointed by the Bishop. The LACs’ role is to monitor, support and challenge ‘their’ school, especially in the areas of: Catholic Life; performance; behaviour and well-being; budget monitoring; and safeguarding. LAC governors work ‘on the ground’, knowing ‘their’ school well and visiting regularly. Each LAC is supported by a professional Clerk.
Interconnecting the two kinds of governance, ‘Link Directors’ serve as a two-way means of communication between groups of LACs and the Board. Strategic Partnership Groups, based on groups of parishes, give opportunities for Chairs of LACs, Headteachers and Link Directors to share ideas and work together, for the greater good.
As Chair of STCAT’s first Board of Directors, I am grateful to all the volunteers who commit themselves to our schools, and I am proud of the strength of our Board, in numbers and commitment, and of the breadth of knowledge, skills, and experience these directors bring. We are excited to be playing our part in bringing to life the diocesan vision for education – and we look forward to welcoming more diocesan schools into STCAT in the near future.