A CATHOLIC school is set to become the first primary in Harwich to be turned into an academy.

St Joseph's in The Drive, Dovercourt is one of 19 schools in Essex facing being academised by the Catholic Diocese of Brentwood.

As such the schools would then be run by a multi academy trust linked to the Catholic Church and out of local authority control, providing for independent status and funding.

Academies also take the land that the school is built on.

In an open letter to parishioners across the diocese in September, the Bishop of Brentwood, Alan Williams said he believed the delivery of services to schools would be improved through the streamlining of partnerships with key providers, for example in the areas of school improvement, succession planning, training and professional development.

There will also be opportunities for more effective centralised services, such as HR, legal and financial management support.

He added that the “direct funding of academies has reduced the capacity of local authorities and some are already struggling to provide adequate resources to support schools”.

The establishment of a network of deanery-based multi-academy trusts (MATs) has already begun and it is expected to take about three years to complete.

The MATs will “evolve gradually” across the diocese initially with those schools that are best placed and want or need to make a more immediate transition.

Bishop Wiliams added: “The grouping of schools into MATs is intended to translate my vision for education in the diocese into a workable and resilient reality that secures and enables the development of all Catholic schools in to the future.”

Robert Simpson, director of education for the Diocese of Brentwood, said: “After a wide and comprehensive consultation, the Bishop along with diocesan officers developed an academisation plan to be implemented over the course of the next three years.

“This plan has proved largely popular with schools, head teachers and parents.

“We are more than happy to have further dialogue with parents to inform them about our academisation plans, as they are the primary educators of their children.

“All schools in the Diocese of Brentwood are under the authority of the Bishop, and it’s his informed decision to move forward with these plans, thus moving the diocese in line with the prevailing national trend towards academisation.”

St Joseph's School was unavailable for comment.