TWO South Lakes schools could soon become part of an academy trust in Cumbria.

Dean Gibson Primary School in Kendal, St Cuthbert's Primary School in Windermere could be converted to academies and join up with five other faith schools in the county.

Leaders at the primary and secondary schools have launched a consultation asking staff, parents, carers and parishioners to determine whether to move forward with the plan.

If it goes ahead the other schools that would form the Mater Christi Multi-Academy Trust are St Joseph's High School in Workington, St Bernard's Catholic High School and Sacred Heart Catholic Primary School in Barrow and St Margaret Mary and St Cuthbert's primary schools in Carlisle.

In a letter to parents, Sacred Heart head Bernie Barnes spelt out the advantages of academy status.

She said: "Being an academy a joining multi-academy trust with other Catholic schools will give us greater opportunities for working more closely together in the secure knowledge that we have a common purpose and ethos.

"We feel that the additional freedoms and flexibilities and the support that will be provided as part of the multi academy trust would enable the governors to better secure the long term future of our school

"In addition, being part of a trust will strengthen our Catholic identity.

"We will be able to pool resources, allowing us to improve teaching and management practice further. We will also achieve a greater degree of control of our finances, which will help us to safeguard these funds for the benefit of our children.

"Academy conversion is not a panacea for all ills and we are aware of some difference in opinion as to the effectiveness of multi academy trusts.

"We do not intend to make any changes on the day-to-day work of the school on conversion, other than to introduce the additional governance accountability that comes with working within a multi academy trust and to bring closer working practices between the schools in the trust through school improvement planning," the letter said.

"Please be assured that the Catholic character, ethos and values of the school would remain unchanged should academy conversion take place."