THE merger of two school trusts is set to benefit an ‘inadequate’ Oxford school.

The Dominic Barberi Multi Academy Company (MAC), of which the Cowley-based St Gregory the Great Catholic School is a part of, will be joining the Pope Francis MAC.

Consisting of 11 schools and nearly 3,000 pupils across Oxfordshire, the enlarged trust has high hopes for the future.

One key appointment has been made, that of Fraser Long as Catholic Senior Executive Leader.

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Mr Long, who is currently the principal of Blessed George Napier in Banbury, will take up the role next month.

Paul Concannon, who has been a governor for 26 years and is chair of the Pope Francis MAC, said: “This merger is long overdue, it’s the result of three years of hard work and negotiations and tough meetings.

“We’re expanding into North Oxfordshire and we’ve been asked to go into Oxford with the Dominic Barberi MAC, where there were some serious issues and challenges, not just at St Gregory’s.

“There were some financial issues which needed facing but I’m pleased to see the budget side has been sorted out, but the next big challenge is to sort out St Gregory’s to make it the outstanding school which Oxford deserves.

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“We’ve appointed Fraser after we went through a very vigorous process with external candidates, and we had applications from Ireland and from former Ofsted inspectors.

“Fraser will be starting full-time from December 1 – it’s a really important position and he can make a difference for all the schools in the MAC.

“The next step is to build a central service team around Fraser – we need a chief financial officer, HR, governance and all sorts of other positions.”

A new board of directors will be drawn from the existing boards of the two trusts, while Mr Concannon said he remained hopeful the merger will officially take place on January 1.

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St Gregory’s was first rated ‘inadequate’ and placed in special measures back in 2017, with the Department for Education making the decision to de-amalgamate the all-through school.

Earlier this month, the primary phase of the school joined Oxford Diocesan Schools Trust (ODST), seeing the creation of St Frideswide Church of England Primary School.

The Pope Francis MAC will oversee the secondary phase of the school, and now the two are standalone schools, Ofsted can inspect them separately.

Mr Long said: “We have a good relationship with ODST and have a shared vision for this de-amalgamation.

“Going forward, we’ll still of course be working with ODST as we’ll be next door to each other, but it’s exciting, it gives us the opportunity to build proper partnerships, we want to collaborate and do the very best for all of our children.

“I think it’s a very exciting place to be at the moment, the aim now is for all the schools to be good at the very least.”