National Audit Office asked to investigate Wakefield City Academies Trust

Wakefield City Academy
Wakefield City Academy

An MP has asked the National Audit Office to investigate the collapse of an academy trust which has pulled out of running 21 Yorkshire schools.

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

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett.

Hemsworth MP Jon Trickett.

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 Wakefield City Academies Trust 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 an estimated £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 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“Crucially, this is the first time a major academy trust has withdrawn from supporting all its schools.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.”

In a statement last Friday the board of WCAT said it had been working to address “significant challenges” faced by the trust.

In response to Mr Trickett’s comments, a WCAT spokesman said: “We would refer back to the trust board’s original statement. “The decision to ask the Department for Education to place our academies with new sponsors is because the trust does not have the capacity to facilitate their rapid improvement.

“The trust’s accounts are in the public domain.”