Wednesday, 26 January 2011

The Cardinal Vaughan issue just will not go away

I blogged on the battle that the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School was having with Archbishop Nichols and the Diocese of Westminster quite some time ago.
Since then, the parents of this excellent school (who are fighting to maintain their legitimate control of the school and its affairs rather than having a group of Governors from Westminster thrust upon them) have formed an action group and are to organise a candle lit vigil at the school on February 2nd at 6.15pm (H/T Damian Thompson)

Here is their latest press release.....
For immediate release: Saturday 22 January 2011
Parents at one of the country’s best performing Comprehensive schools who are embroiled in
a bitter dispute with the Roman Catholic Church authorities over the make-up of the School’s
Governing Body, have been granted leave to appeal a recent High Court judgment which
went in favour of the Diocese.
The elected Parent Governors of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in West London
took the Diocese of Westminster, trustees of the School, to court over its failure to appoint
any current parents in the School as Foundation Governors, and the imposition of its own
Director of Education, Paul Barber, on to the Governing Body. They say this represents a
conflict of interest.
Mr Barber was the Diocesan official responsible for referring Cardinal Vaughan to the Office
of the Schools’ Adjudicator, in a recent row over admissions policy at the heavily oversubscribed
But, in a judgment in the High Court on 25 November last year, the Diocese was ruled to
have acted lawfully. Now, Lord Justice Sullivan has granted the Parent Governors leave to
appeal on both counts. He said the case raised important points of principle which could
affect the composition of the governing bodies of all schools where the governors are
appointed by a foundation.
Meanwhile, the Governing Body at Cardinal Vaughan is pressing ahead with the process for
the appointment of a new Head. It is only the third time in sixty years that a new Head will
have been appointed at CVMS. Interviews are to be held by the Governing Body shortly.
The Cardinal Vaughan Parents’ Action Group, which was set up to support the Parent
Governors, is planning a candlelit vigil outside the School on 2 February, the day of the next
governors’ meeting. The purpose is to pray for the future of the School which parents fear the
Diocese is trying to take over, with a view to changing its character and weakening its strong
Catholic ethos.
Areas of dispute between the Vaughan Parents’ Action Group and the Diocese of
Westminster include:
consultation before appointing Foundation Governors
The Diocese’s consistent failure, over the past few years, to observe its own policy on
many as seven highly able and dedicated Governors, and two Chairmen in succession
The Diocese’s failure to provide a cogent explanation for its refusal to reappoint as
The Diocese’s referral of the School to the Office of the Schools’ Adjudicator
The Diocese’s appointment to the Governing Body of its own Director of Education
The Diocese’s failure to appoint current parents as Foundation Governors
already Chairman of Governors of a nearby Catholic secondary school, and Vice-
Chairman of a local Catholic primary school.
Background Statistics:
The election by the Diocese’s representatives of a Chairman of Governors who is
including English and Mathematics last summer was 90% (national average 55%)
The proportion of CVMS pupils who secured five or more A*- C GCSE passes
79.5% of CVMS A level passes last summer were graded A*- B
including Mathematics and English last summer was 83%
The proportion of Free School Meals pupils who secured five or more A*- C GCSEs
49% of pupils come from minority ethnic groups. (National average 21%.)
The pupils in the School speak 44 different languages.
3.1%. (Royal Borough Kensington and Chelsea average 2.4%; national average 2%.)
· The proportion of children with Statements of Special Educational Needs stands at
For further information, please contact:
Anna Brown 07950 021042
Sarah Johnson 07747 075340
Catherine Utley 07984 122484
28% of the Sixth Form receive the Educational Maintenance Allowance.



Urgent Appeal for Funds
The five elected Parent Governors on the Governing Body have been granted leave to appeal. They are fighting for greater parental involvement in the running of the School. They are personally liable for the costs of the legal action. It is vital we support them now. 
Please give what you can. If 300 families gave £100 each that would raise £30,000
Any donation, however small, will be of great help to their campaign and every penny will be put towards the costs of the legal appeal. 
If you have a Paypal account you can donate by sending money directly to
Please donate online via Paypal here.
We also can accept cheques. Please make cheques payable to “Vaughan Parents’ Association” marked on 
the back “Parent Governor Action” and send to:

Vaughan Parents’ Association
Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School
89 Addison Road
W14 8BZ
Our Aims 
The Vaughan Parents’ Action Group has been set up by a number of parents worried about radical changes the Diocese of Westminster has made to the School’s Governing Body.
  1. We now have not a single current parent Foundation Governor. Parents are woefully under-represented.
  2. The Diocese has made its own Director of Education, Paul Barber, a Governor. This appointment creates a clear conflict of interest, we believe. It also means that he will not be able to give as much attention to the many other Catholic schools in the Diocese. Paul Barber is a Governor of no other school in the Diocese.
  3. John O’Donnell has now been elected Chairman of Governors at the Vaughan. He is already Chairman of Governors at neighbouring Sion Manning School. He is also Vice-Chairman of Governors of St Charles’ Primary School. This is another conflict of interest. Besides that, how can he possibly give the Vaughan School the attention it needs and deserves?
We believe the Diocese wants to change the way the school operates, to dilute its Catholic ethos and to turn it into a local comprehensive.  We do not believe this will help the school to continue to provide a first-class education to young people of all abilities and backgrounds from across the whole of London.
We want above all to protect the School’s Catholic ethos. We want to protect its distinctive identity. We want to protect its high spiritual, moral, educational, cultural and sporting standards.
Our aims are these:
  1. To persuade the Diocese to appoint Foundation Governors who are parents of children at the School.
  2. To persuade the Diocese to remove Paul Barber from the Governing Body.
  3. To seek the election of a Chairman who will have time to devote to the Vaughan, and who will not have a conflict of interest. 
Michael Gormally, the school’s highly-respected former Headmaster, shares our views and vigorously opposes the changes that have been made. He has also resisted strongly Archbishop Nichols’ attempts to gain his support for the changes. His recent letter can be viewed on our documents page here.


  1. Whats the bit below "useful websites" doing there? A lot of it is incomplete. It's not part of the release is it? I hope not.
    By the way, my donation has already gone.

  2. Praying - am following this closely.

  3. Genty - thanks for that. I have wrestled with the copy/paste bit for hours and have finally emasculated it as far as possible. It just does not want to transpose. Sorry.

  4. Thank you,Richard, for blogging on this again, and thanks to all for prayers and donations. We are expecting big numbers on Wednesday evening - please join us in person if you can, in prayer if you can't.

  5. Pattif - See Fr Simon Henry's blog - Offerimus Tibi Domine.