Dear Parents/Carers Monday 18th May 2020
Consultation to convert to Academy status and join Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust (formerly Sacred Heart Partnership of Schools)
Prior to the COVID-19 situation, many of you will recall that in December 2019 the Diocesan Academy Policy was revised with the aim that all Diocesan schools will become academies within one of four Diocesan education trusts by July 2022.
We are now in the unusual position as schools, where we are all trying to establish a new way of working for our children, families and staff. It is both the view of the Diocese and our Governing Body that the plans to join the Trust should continue, and in many ways this is brought into even sharper focus by the pandemic situation, in that by being part of a Catholic Academy Trust we are better able to jointly plan and work together to support our children, families and staff during these unprecedented and challenging times.

Underpinning the Diocesan Academy Policy is the desire and need to ensure the promotion, preservation, protection and future development of Catholic education within the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle. The Catholic Trust model will ensure that the uniqueness of each individual school is celebrated and the unique contribution of each is recognised and appreciated. It will also mean that no individual school will be left isolated or vulnerable in a rapidly changing and complex environment. The aim is also to facilitate greater sharing, adding strength and capacity to the system and ensuring that all schools are supported.
Our Governing Body’s priority remains to enable the school to continue to provide an excellent Catholic education for our children, whilst continuing to be at the heart of our community.
Therefore, in line with Diocesan policy, our Governing Body has decided to consult with parents, carers, staff and other stakeholders, on whether each school should become an academy and join the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust.

We are therefore commencing formal consultation today, Monday 18th May 2020, for a period of three school term weeks. Consultation will therefore end at 3pm on Friday 12th June 2020.

What is an Academy?
Academies are state schools, funded directly from central government, no longer under the control of the Local Authority. Academy status gives schools more freedom to be innovative and creative with the curriculum, timetabling, staffing and governance. However Catholic Academies continue to be accountable to the Bishop of Hexham and Newcastle as well as the local community. All academies continue to be inspected by Ofsted and comply with the same rules as other schools on special educational needs, exclusions and admissions.
There are now over 9,000 academies in the country, including many schools in the Diocese of Hexham and Newcastle and in the local authority.
An academy is part of a charitable trust run by a board of Directors. Academies are rightly expected to work with and support other schools, including lower-performing schools. Should you wish to know more about the Government’s policy, the Department for Education has its own academies bookmark on

What is a Multi Academy Trust (MAT)?

A MAT is formed when two or more academies legally come together in partnership. Each school keeps its own name and it is possible for other academies to join the Trust in the future. The partnership ensures that the schools can share skills and best practice and make optimum use of resources ensuring best value for money for each school.

In many ways the children will not notice any immediate difference, they will be in the same uniform, in the same classrooms with the same teaching staff. However, in time the children will perhaps notice changes and improvements in the way that they learn for example and have greater links with each school within the Trust.

How can we find out more about Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust?
Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust (formerly known as Sacred Heart Partnership of Schools) was established in 2017 by Sacred Heart Catholic School, a Catholic Academy, judged to be Outstanding by Ofsted. In recent years, Sacred Heart has been ranked amongst the top state schools nationally in terms of GCSE and A level results.
The Trust was founded on clear principles, to educate the whole child, to ensure every child in its care has an excellent Catholic education and to work together to improve opportunities for all its children to succeed and be happy. The original schools came together to support a primary school that was graded inadequate by Ofsted. This school needed immediate support with leadership and to improve the quality of learning: the children and their families deserved a great education. By working together and harnessing the best leadership and teaching available, the Trust was able to transform the provision in the school within months. The staff in that school are now ready and able to work with others. However, the best Trusts are not formed simply to support schools in difficulty. Our Catholic schools are some of the best in our region, all have strengths, all have areas to develop. By coming together as a partnership of schools, we can harness the best practice within schools, and then disseminate it across the system. The Trust believes this is the single most important benefit of being part of a Trust.
Another central principle to how the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust operates is how all school maintain their individuality, uniqueness and a great deal of autonomy, so that they are able to be creative and flourish. The Trust values what makes schools different, however schools are bound together by their desire to ensure every school is supported to be become the best it can in order to improve the life chances for all children in our region. Over time, the Trust will grow to a partnership of 39 North East schools and will fully recognise that each new school joining the Trust will bring with them skills, strengths and talents that can further enhance the work of the Trust.
The Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust Board of Directors is ultimately responsible for the schools within the partnership and accountable to the Bishop providing visionary strategic leadership, a focus on continuous improvement, high quality governance and a strong Catholic ethos with a caring and supportive culture.
What are the main benefits for schools within the Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust?
• Access to top quality staff, including an “outstanding” Trust leadership team who are sharply focussed on securing excellence.
• Moderation of standards across the partnership of schools to ensure the highest quality provision
• Greater control over finances and the money due to schools.
• Educational benefits for students as a result of additional freedoms available to academies in terms of the curriculum we offer, and how we prioritise resources.
• The opportunity to work in close and formalised partnership with other schools and share expertise and services that will benefit all of our students and staff.
• Sharing resources and expertise, allows us to target funding towards improving front line teaching and learning.
• Develop our own solutions collaboratively.
• Building on Catholic ethos and protecting Catholic education.
What additional responsibilities will Academy status bring?

• Additional financial and legal responsibilities – however as Bishop Bewick Catholic Education Trust is a well-established Trust, arrangements are already fully in place to deal with these responsibilities.
• Currently the Governing Body employs our staff – going forward the Academy Trust would be the employer rather than the Governing Body.
• The Academy Trust would be responsible for admissions rather than the Governing Body (although the Local Authority would still co-ordinate and ensure the Trust adopts clear and fair admission arrangements in line with the admissions law and the School Admissions Code).
• The Academy Trust would enter into a 125-year lease for the land, usually owned by the Local Authority. We already have responsibility for the cost of maintaining the land and buildings.

How do I learn more, and how do I respond to the consultation?

Our Governing Body would very much like to hear your opinion. Due to the current situation we are unable to hold face to face information sessions for parents however we encourage you to contact Mrs Pauline Johnstone with any questions you might have, and we can arrange either a telephone call or a video conference call.

If you wish to respond to the consultation, please email with your feedback, and include your name and contact details by the closing date of Friday 12th June 2020.

Yours sincerely,

Mrs Pauline Johnstone Mr G. Wilkins
Head teacher Chair of Governors

30 hours free funding Nursery places available form September 2020
We are delighted to announce that St Wilfrid's will be offering some 30 hour places in our Nursery from September 2020. If you think you or someone you know may be eligible please look at the guidance and then contact school.

What is the 30 hours extended entitlement for 3 and 4 year old children?

Qualifying parents/carers, who meet a range of criteria, are entitled to free, high quality early education for 30 hours per week (1140 hours per year) taken over no fewer than 38 weeks. Parents/carers can take up as much or as little of their entitlement as they wish.

What criteria do I need to meet?

The extended free childcare entitlement will be available to parents/carers of three and four year old children in from September 2017 where:

 Both parents are working (or sole parent in a lone parent family) & each parent/carer earns on average:

 • a weekly minimum equivalent to 16 hours at national minimum wage (NMW) (for under 25 yr olds) or national living wage (NLW) (if over 25 yrs old), and

• less than £100,000 per year Or

• Both parents are employed but one or both parents is temporarily away from the workplace on parental, maternity, paternity or adoption leave or statutory sick pay, or

• One parent is employed & the other parent has substantial caring responsibilities based on specific benefits received for caring, or

 • One parent is employed & one parent is disabled or incapacitated based on receipt of specific benefits. Please note You do not need to work 16 hours per week, but your earnings must equal at least 16 hours work at minimum wage / national living wage. This equates to a minimum income requirement for a parent/carer over the age of 25 of £115.20 a week, or for 21-24 year old of £107.20 a week. A parent/carer will be eligible if they expect (on average) to earn this amount over the coming three months:

For example, for a parent/carer who is on a zero-hours contract, they will qualify if on average they work two weeks out of every three, and when they are working they get 25 hours of work at the minimum wage. ‘Parent’ means a person who has parental responsibility for the child. In cases where a parent has remarried or is living with a partner, the step-parent or partner must also meet the earning threshold. Foster carers are only eligible for the extended entitlement for their own children (if they meet the criteria); they are not eligible for children that they foster.

 How can I apply for a place?


 Eligibility dates

 All funding starts from the term following a child’s 3rd birthday, eligibility dates are as follows:

Children born in the period

Eligible from the start of the Term on/following

1st April – 31st August

1st September

1st Sept – 31st December

1st January

1st January – 31st March

1st April


If your child is eligible for a 30 hour place you will be given a code from the government. You will then give us the code.

At present this offer is only going out to St. Wilfrid's parents and carers or families/friends of parents and carers.

We will be opening this offer out to the general public on 5th June.  So if you are interested please let us know as soon as possible, as we would hate for you to miss out.

If you are interested, firstly please contact Mrs Dobson in the school office. Tel: 01670 352919. You can then:

Visit for further advice, to see if you are eligible.

If you are, contact Mrs Dobson and give her the code that you have been given.

If you have any queries, please do not hesitate to contact the school.

Thank you

Caroline Carr

EYFS Lead / Senior Leader

Year 5 meeting astronaut Michael Foale and a morning in Durham Botanical Gardens. 


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