Potential new sponsors found for 21 schools offloaded by crisis-hit Wakefield academy chain

The academy chains which could take over schools currently run by a crisis-hit education trust have been named.
The academy chains which could take over schools currently run by a crisis-hit education trust have been named.

The Government has announced that it has provisionally identified eight preferred new trusts to take over 21 schools that were offloaded by a crisis-hit Yorkshire academy chain.

The news is set to bring some relief to parents and pupils at the schools following last month's shock announcement from Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) on September 8. Here is the list in full:

The trust's board concluded it could not provide the quality of education its pupils deserved.

A Department for Education (DfE) spokesperson said: “Our priority has been to identify new trusts and to minimise uncertainty for schools and pupils. There is now an opportunity for interested parties to submit views to the department before final decisions are taken.”

All of WCAT's eight schools in Wakefield could be run by Outwood Grange Academies Trust (OGAT), which is also based in the city and is one of the country’s highest performing academy chains.

A statement released by OGAT said: "We know that these academies have many strengths and are keen to understand the academies and their communities as quickly as possible to avoid any further unnecessary delays and uncertainty.

"As a trust we focus on accelerating improvements in outcomes for students and have a whole range of expertise and experience at our disposal that we will use to support these academies in their transition."

Martyn Oliver, CEO of OGAT, added: “We understand that uncertainty is no good for students, staff or parents or carers and hope that they, like us, feel that this is a really exciting time for the community, staff and students of Wakefield."

Two primary schools and a secondary in Doncaster, along with a high school in Goole, East Yorkshire, could be taken over by Delta Academies Trust, which is Yorkshire's largest academy chain and is also based in Wakefield.

The Tauheedul Education Trust is being proposed to run three primary schools in Bradford.

While the Astrea Academy Trust is in the running to sponsor two schools in Doncaster.

The remaining four schools in Rotherham, Sheffield and Doncaster could be run by Ashton Community Education Trust, Brigantia Learning Trust, Exceed Academies Trust and Inspiring Futures.

A period for interested parties to submit information relevant to any, or all, of the 21 academies has now begun, the DfE said.

Once final decisions have been taken, the academies will remain part of WCAT until they are transferred to a new trust, supported by the Regional Schools Commissioner. Once all academies have been re-brokered the trust’s funding agreement will be terminated and WCAT will dissolve.

Questions have been raised over the financial management of WCAT after the announcement was made just days into the new school term.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett said it showed a lack of accountability in the academies programme and asked the National Audit Office to carry out an investigation.

Education secretary Justine Greening was also asked to hold a consultation on the future of WCAT’s schools and a petition was launched calling for them to be returned to council control.

Anyone who wishes to give feedback on the sponsorship proposals should email the DfE on: academies.rebrokerage@education.gov.uk.