ST Augustine High School may avoid academisation due to the resistance of the Archdiocese of Liverpool, according to a council report.

The St Helens Catholic school was placed in special measures in March following an Ofsted inspection in February.

When a school is rated inadequate, the Education and Adoption Act places a duty upon the local authority and the school’s governors to facilitate the conversion to academy status.

However, when the Act was passed in 2016, the Department for Education (DoE) signed a Memorandum of Understanding with the Catholic Church preventing the process to be imposed without the consent of church leaders.

“Amongst other matters, that Memorandum of Understanding stated that decisions about the future of any Catholic school, particularly any decisions that relate to structural changes, including changes to governance arrangements, require both the consent of the Diocesan Bishop and the Trustees,” the report says.

“The current Archdiocesan position is that the relevant Bishop (Archbishop Malcolm McMahon) will not give his consent to the conversion of the school to an academy.”

The council submitted a draft statement of action – which sets out the actions underpinning the conversion process the authority must take to comply with the academy order – to Ofsted in April.

“If the proposals are approved, then it is still likely that the school will not be subject to academisation, given the Archdiocese’s position,” the report says.

“However, it is vital that the school is prompted and supported to improve by the local authority, in order that students there can achieve better outcomes in their GCSE examinations this year and beyond.

“The work in place is expected to contribute to improvement over that period and beyond, given past performance.”

The authority says that no timelines have been placed in the statement of action partly because the pace of academisation is dependent upon other parties, in particular, the Regional Schools Commission, which act on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education.

The report also says St Augustine’s entire governing body on the board at the time of February’s inspection have now resigned.

It says the local authority and the Archdiocese hope to install new governors at the start of this term.

The report adds: “If academisation is not put into effect as a consequence of the Archdiocese’s stance, then the school will be in a position akin to De La Salle, which was also subject to an Academy Order that was not put into effect, and which (even with De La Salle being judged to require improvement last September) the Regional Schools Commission refuses to revoke.”