MP calls for investigation over academy chain collapse
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“Crucially, this is the first time a major academy trust has withdrawn from supporting all its schools.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.”