"We are delighted to announce that the Government has intervened to help us in our campaign to appoint current parents in the school as Foundation Governors.
We believe that the Catholic Diocese of Westminster has, in effect, gerrymandered the Governing Body by refusing to appoint parents of children in the school as Foundation Governors and filling it with placemen instead. We have always maintained this is against the law. One judge in the Court of Appeal strongly upheld our view, but the other two said the Diocese's interpretation that "parent foundation governors" in the regulations did not have to be Cardinal Vaughan parents, was lawful. Following this split decision, we asked for the government to intervene.
Our request was backed in the House of Lords (June 14) by Lord Lexden, - a patron of the Cardinal Vaughan Parents' Action Group. He said clarification of the law was needed to protect parents' choice and rights. In his speech during the second reading of the Education Bill, Lord Lexden said this:
vigilance is needed in protecting choice and rights which parents have long enjoyed. I have recently drawn one specific cause of concern to the attention of my noble friend the Minister in my role as a patron of a campaign organised by parents of the Cardinal Vaughan Memorial School in London. Parents with children at the school are being denied their proper role on its governing body by the Roman Catholic diocesan authorities. This is a case which has implications for all 4,000 voluntary-aided schools in England. The law needs to be clarified. I hope that, either in Committee or through some other means, the Government will be able to set out their view.
Now the education minister, Lord Hill, in a letter to Lord Lexden, says he intends to amend the school governance regulations The effect of this amendment will be to remove all doubt that the requirement on appointing bodies to include 'parents' as Foundation Governors means parents of children currently in the school, except where none is available to serve. A consultation period on the implementation of the amendment will begin at the start of the Autumn term.
The Diocese has gone to extraordinary lengths to keep Vaughan parents off the Governing Body and so shut them out from crucial decisions on the future of this outstanding school. The Archbishop and his advisers have shamelessly exploited an apparent loophole in the law. We don't understand why the Diocese has been at such pains to exclude us, but we believe that it has in mind changes to Cardinal Vaughan which no parent there would want.
We welcome Lord Hill's intervention as a breakthrough for parents’ rights. We would like to thank our patrons for their invaluable support and encouragement.
But our work is not over.
This development represents a very important step for our campaign. But the law will not come into effect straight away.
For this reason we ask you now to appeal respectfully to Archbishop Nichols to appoint two current parent foundation governors immediately - before the appointment of a new Head in the Autumn. It is essential that everyone has confidence that the Governing Body is correctly constituted before it undertakes this most important task. Archbishop Nichols has the power to do this. He is clearly, in our view, morally obliged to do it. Please help us to make sure that he does it.
The Archbishop can be contacted by email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by post at Archbishop’s House, Ambrosden Avenue, London SW1P 1QJ.
We would be interested to see copies of your letter and any replies you receive.
We will be posting more important news, in the next few days".
If the Archbishop wishes to salvage something out of this wreck he should quit now and back down gracefully; he would engender a deal of respect as a result.
Story also featured by Damian Thompson.