The district's Catholic schools are all be invited to convert to academies by a newly formed schools' trust.

Three Keighley schools have already agreed to become part of the Christopher Wharton Trust, which was set up last week. The trust hopes that if the change proves a success, more Bradford Catholic schools will follow suit.

Holy Family Catholic School, Our Lady of Victories Catholic Primary School and St Anne’s Catholic Primary School have announced they are forging ahead with plans to become academies as part of the trust.

The schools between them have more than 1,500 pupils, and have previously staged a consultation over the change with parents.

Tim Garthwaite, temporary clerk to the new trust, said the organisation has a clear commitment to ‘localism’. He said: "All Catholic schools will have the option to join. Once we are up and running more schools will see this is a good idea.

“While we have a vision for providing Catholic education from three to 18 years of age for our children in a co-ordinated manner across Bradford district, each school also has local relationships and local problems to solve,” he added.

“The way we’re able to mobilise ‘the good guys’ in Keighley to respond to English Defence League activity and other similar threats just underlines the need to maintain relationships across the town. It is one of the things Keighley is really good at doing.”

St Anne’s and Our Lady of Victories aim to convert to academy status on July 1, with Holy Family following shortly afterwards.

The schools will break away from Bradford Council and receive funding direct from the Government. Each school will still be run by a headteacher and governing body, but linked together by a trust board.

There are 24 Catholic schools in the district, although some area already academies.

Sam Poulton, headteacher at St Anne’s said: “The inaugural directors of the trust are all volunteers, predominantly drawn from Keighley. The next few months are going to see a lot of work to establish the routines of the trust and welcome other schools as they join us, but at present there is a quite clear Keighley focus.”

The trust is being named after Christopher Wharton, who was born in Ilkley in 1542.

He served as a Catholic priest in Yorkshire at a time when Catholicism was illegal. He was arrested in 1599, condemned to death and executed in York.

John Devlin, headteacher at Our Lady of Victories and chairman of the trust, said: “I’m quite excited by the prospect of Blessed Christopher’s patronage. His life story is a great adventure story in its own right.”