The Bishop of Middlesbrough has withdrawn support for a free school in Hull after it became clear that the school would not have a Catholic ethos.
The school was to be built on the site of St Mary’s College, an existing Catholic school, but the Department for Education said it could not ensure the school would have “basic Catholic values and ethics”.
Ged Fitzpatrick, head teacher of St Mary’s College, the man behind the proposal, said he is now looking for another site in Hull.
A spokesman at the diocese said: “Bishop Terence Drainey and the trustees do not support it. Despite the best efforts of the Department of Education the new school was required to have Catholic values and standards stated clearly in its proposals, which it did not.
“There are 1,600 pupils at St Mary’s so there is no demand for a Catholic free school.”
Fr Derek Turnham, another spokesman at the diocese, said today: “At no time did the diocese make the decision or reflect that it would support the free school.
“It supported the ongoing dialogue and investigation, but it was when failure to answer difficult questions and discrepancies between those involved in discussion arose, that it became clear that the bishop and diocese could not support the school,” he said.
Mr Fitzpatrick said: “We really felt there was merit in the proposal but always knew it had to sit comfortably with the bishop. After all, it is his school and we respect that.”
McAuley College Academy was to be built next to St Mary’s but as an autonomous school with a separate head teacher and governors. It was not going to be a Catholic school as St Mary’s already provides secondary education to Catholic children in the area – 70 per cent of its pupils are Catholic.
Having been unable to sell in churches for well over a year due to the pandemic, we are now inviting readers to support the Herald by investing in our future. We have been a bold and influential voice in the church since 1888, standing up for traditional Catholic culture and values.
Please join us on our 130 year mission by supporting us. We are raising £250,000 to safeguard the Herald as a world-leading voice in Catholic journalism and teaching. For more information from our chairman on contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund, click here
Make a Donation
Donors giving £500 or more will automatically become sponsor patrons of the Herald. This includes two complimentary print/digital gift subscriptions, invitations to Patron events, pilgrimages and dinners, and 6 gift subscriptions sent to priests, seminaries, Catholic schools, religious care homes and prison and university chaplaincies. Click here for more information on becoming a Patron Sponsor. Click here for more information about contributing to the Herald Patron's Fund