Plymouth CAST is a single company comprising 36 Catholic schools across Cornwall, Devon and Dorset that fall within the Plymouth Diocese of which St Mary’s is one. In legal terms, the Board of Directors of the company is ultimately responsible for everything that goes on in these schools but high levels of autonomy are devolved to the ‘Local Governing Body’ (LGB) of each school. It is the expectation that local governors have a real sense of responsibility and stewardship for their school as well as towards the network of schools.
As a single company, there are certain things – for example employment terms and conditions – that have to be consistent from school to school. Also it is much easier to formulate statutory polices centrally rather than every school having to develop its own version. Also, there are times when strategic decisions need to be taken from a network perspective rather than from the perspective of a single school or a group of schools. On such occasions, it is the Board of Directors that acts on behalf of the network.
The Plymouth CAST principle of ‘subsidiarity’, taken from Catholic social teaching, means that, all things being equal, decisions should be taken by those closest to where the decision in question will impact. Thus the LGBs retain responsibility for all aspects of their school. Of course this is within the context of the overall policy framework of the Multi Academy Trust (MAT) but it is not normal practice for the Board, CEO, Area Advisers, Finance Officers etc. to direct a LGB or for the LGB to need permission from these parties for day-to-day decision-making or overall school strategy. Although these and other officers are there to support LGBs wherever appropriate and there are agreed network processes and protocols that need to be respected by all schools. For example, the accounting and budgeting framework is set by the Board but it is for each LGB to set its own annual budget in accordance with its own priorities.
The Scheme of Delegation explains the ways in which the Directors fulfil their responsibilities for the leadership and management of the Academy, the respective roles and responsibilities of the Directors and the members of the Local Governing Body and their commitments to each other to ensure the success of the Academy.