MP calls for in­ves­ti­ga­tion over academy chain col­lapse

Yorkshire Post - - NEWS -

A YORK­SHIRE politi­cian has asked the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice to in­ves­ti­gate the col­lapse of an academy chain which has pulled out of run­ning all 21 of its schools.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trick­ett wants Gov­ern­ment au­di­tors to look into the fi­nan­cial man­age­ment of Wake­field City Acad­e­mies Trust (WCAT).

The board of WCAT made the shock an­nounce­ment a week ago, say­ing the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion had been asked to find new spon­sors for the schools.

Mr Trick­ett said: “It is out­ra­geous that only a few days into the new school year WCAT pulled out of its 21 schools, leav­ing par­ents and their chil­dren un­der a cloud of un­cer­tainty.

“This is why I have writ­ten to the Na­tional Au­dit Of­fice to ask for an in­quiry into the col­lapse of the trust.”

Mr Trick­ett said peo­ple were con­cerned about a £16m deficit the trust had re­port­edly in­curred.

He added: “Lo­cal peo­ple need to know what has hap­pened. It could af­fect lo­cal chil­dren’s fu­tures. An in­ves­ti­ga­tion is the very least the af­fected fam­i­lies de­serve.”

Schools con­trolled by WCAT will re­main part of the trust un­til new or­gan­i­sa­tions are found to take them over, the Depart­ment for Ed­u­ca­tion (DfE) con­firmed. When all the schools have been taken over, WCAT’s fund­ing agree­ment will be ter­mi­nated.

In his let­ter to the Gov­ern­ment’s au­di­tor gen­eral, Mr Trick­ett said: “There must be scru­tiny of whether there were enough checks and bal­ances within this academy trust, and within acad­e­mies more gen­er­ally.

“Cru­cially, this is the first time a ma­jor academy trust has with­drawn from sup­port­ing all its schools.

“The acad­e­mies model is still rel­a­tively young. There has been much crit­i­cism of the way this model works and there will be many teething prob­lems for the acad­e­mies struc­ture.

“There­fore, this in­ci­dent has many na­tional im­pli­ca­tions for schools across the coun­try.”

WCAT is yet to re­spond to Mr Trick­ett’s com­ments.

How­ever, on Wed­nes­day, af­ter union lead­ers tabled an emer­gency mo­tion at the TUC Congress call­ing for an in­de­pen­dent in­quiry into the de­ci­sion, WCAT re­it­er­ated its pre­vi­ous state­ment.

A spokesper­son said: “To­gether with the DfE, we will en­sure that our acad­e­mies get the sup­port they need now, and as part of new trusts, to se­cure the ed­u­ca­tional ex­pe­ri­ence of chil­dren in the schools.”

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