BY CHRISTINA WHITE
ANOTHER religious order in Britain is to relinquish control of a school to a lay organisation.
The Augustinian Province of England and Scotland will hand over control of Austin Friars School in Carlisle and St Monica's Preparatory School, which shares the same site, to a charitable trust. From September the school will be known as Austin Friars St Monica's, providing education from nursery through to sixth form.
The announcement comes just weeks after the Presentation Brothers confirmed they would be handing over control of Presentation College in Reading. Berkshire to an educational trust for the "management and operation" of the school.
The friars have stressed that links will be maintained with Austin Friars. Two Augustinians, including the order's provincial Fr Paul Graham OSA, will be trustees and two friars will continue to teach at
the school. Fr Graham said declining vocations made the transfer of the school inevitable, "the gift" of the buildings and assets would secure its future.
He said: "The number of Augustinians able to teach at Austin Friars has declined and the Order has gradually been replacing the governors and posts of responsibility in the school with lay people.
'We have been looking for a number of years with the predominantly lay governors for a way to ensure Austin Friars' future. As a result of these negotiations the trustees of the Order decided to make a gift of the school to a lay charitable trust."
The school will continue to belong to a network of Augustinian schools worldwide.
Austin Friars was established in 1951 as a boys' boarding and day grammar school. With the advent of comprehensive education the school became independent. When demand for boarding places dropped it became co-educational.