A troubled academy trust has appointed the leader of the Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference as its next chief executive.
Plymouth Cast was set up by the Plymouth Roman Catholic Diocese in 2014. It runs 35 schools in South West England.
The trust has received official warnings about academic standards and finances during the last 14 months.
In November 2016, a focused Ofsted review highlighted “significant decline” in some schools since joining the trust, and warned that its leaders “do not have the capacity to bring about improvement with the necessary urgency”.
That was followed by an official warning notice, issued by then-regional schools commissioner Rebecca Clark.
And in September last year, the Education and Skills Funding Agency issued a financial notice to improve, raising concerns about “weak financial management” and “inadequate governance”.
Today, Raymond Friel tweeted that he would be taking over as CEO of Plymouth Cast in July, and said he was “looking forward to this great new challenge in Catholic education”.
My new job has been announced this week: from 1 July I’ll be the CEO of Plymouth CAST, a multi-academy trust of 36 schools. Loved my time @CISCSchools but looking forward to this great new challenge in Catholic education. @PlymouthDiocese @PlymouthCAST— Raymond Friel (@friel_raymond) January 12, 2018
Karen Cook, Plymouth Cast’s current director of finance, will be interim chief executive until Mr Friel takes up his new role.
He is currently general secretary of the Catholic Independent Schools’ Conference, which has 135 schools in England, Scotland, Ireland, France, Spain, Gibraltar, Italy and Singapore.
A former English teacher, he has had two headships, at St Joseph’s Catholic School in Salisbury and St Gregory’s Catholic College in Bath, and is a former Ofsted inspector and national leader of education.
His books include How to Survive Working in a Catholic School, and How to Survive in Leadership in a Catholic School.
He has also published several collections of poetry.