“The Church believes that a Catholic school must be at least as academically distinguished as other schools in the area [Code of Canon Law, 806.2]. We aim to achieve this by ensuring that excellence, for the sake of the Gospel, is at the heart of everything we do. We all know, that just as important as an outstanding education is the contribution that Catholic schools make to the common good.”
Whilst Plymouth CAST was formally recognised as a new multi academy trust in April 2014, the strength and unity of family felt amongst schools within the Diocese of Plymouth was far from new and had been present for many decades prior to the political academisation of schools.
The Diocese of Plymouth had always desired that its schools should feel a strong sense of ‘family’ and of being an expression of the diocesan Church. The distinctive nature of schools and the feeling of being a part of a wider Diocesan community were traditionally maintained through the strong presence of parish clergy as well as large numbers of religious Sisters and Brothers – many of whom had been the original founders of the schools or the driving force in their development.
The history of the formal inception of the Trust dates back to the late 1990s when there was a strengthening of the Diocesan schools' network and a deepening partnership with the Local Authority. The aim of this early formation of partnership was to provide a conduit of support for schools, both pastorally and professionally, whilst helping to maintain the Catholic nature, ethos and identity of our schools.
With the introduction of the Academies Bill in 2010, a unique opportunity was provided to formalise this partnership and collectively secure the mission of our schools. The Trust developed an innovative strategy that would secure the future of all schools within the Diocese, strengthen Catholic provision and create a safety net outside of the Local Authority, from which our family of schools could grow and thrive.
The challenges were many, not least in part due to the geographical size and complexity of the proposals. Despite these challenges and many more legal, operational and strategic obstacles to overcome, in 2014, nearly four years since the proposal had first been mooted, 34 schools joined Plymouth CAST and the Trust began its formal operation.
Today, Plymouth CAST is one of the largest Catholic multi academy trusts in the UK with a strong focus on school improvement and an ambitious vision of unwavering excellence for all of the young people in our care.