Press release – 29 Sep 2014

Academy conversion predicted, despite fight for Voluntary Aided status

Richmond Inclusive Schools Campaign (RISC) said that St Richard Reynolds Catholic Schools’ recently-announced plan to convert from Voluntary Aided to Academy status was “a predictable move, which many people will see as a cynical way to retain a religiously-exclusive admissions policy".

RISC spokesperson and local parent Helen Clark said “Anyone who followed our 2011-12 campaign for inclusive admissions at these new schools will know that Richmond Council and the Archdiocese of Westminster went to the High Court to defend their decision to set them up with Voluntary Aided status, even though an Academy structure is the default for new schools. They did that because new academies can only have 50% faith-based selection rather than 100%. The Voluntary Aided structure enabled them to avoid the 50% rule, and therefore exclude the vast majority of local children.
We predicted at the time they would convert to Academy status shortly after opening, to take advantage of financial and other benefits. That is now happening. They knew that a Voluntary Aided school that converts to an Academy is allowed to keep its discriminatory admissions policy and we have a document from the Department for Education showing that they planned to make the switch all along.

Our response to their consultation will simply be this: ‘Convert if you wish. You should of course have been an academy from the start, so that the local community could have benefited from a more open admissions policy. We trust that a future government will soon bring the admissions rules for conversion academies in line with those of new academies, so that you are then required by law to adopt the policy you should, by honour, have started with.’
 Notes for editors
·         For details contact
·         Link to St.Richard Reynold’s academy consultation
·         The history of the campaign can be found on RISC’s website here: ·
·         A document dated 9 Dec 2011 titled “Request From The Diocese Of Westminster For Consent To Publish Proposals For A New A New 11 – 18 Voluntary Aided Roman Catholic Secondary School” obtained from the Department for Education under a Freedom of Information request stated: “It is essential to the Diocesan Trustees that the proposed school should wholly provide places for Roman Catholic children in order to meet the demand for Catholic primary places in the area.  As such, the Diocese considers the VA route its only option as it will allow for the admission of 100% Roman Catholic pupils; whereas a new Catholic Academy would be required to admit 50% non-denominational admissions if oversubscribed, which we expect this to be the case, due to demand in the area.  The Diocese has confirmed that it may consider Academy status in the future, once the school is established.” It was therefore clear that this manoeuvre was intended all along, a point RISC made during the campaign. The document is now available here: