Questions over academy finances

Wakefield City Academy

Questions continue to be raised over the financial management of an academy chain which will cease running all its 21 schools.

The demise of Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was discussed at a public meeting on Friday organised by teaching unions and Jon Trickett MP.

Last month WCAT said it had asked the Department for Education to find new sponsors for schools including Wakefield City, Normanton Freeston and Hemsworth academies.

Parents and school staff were invited to the meeting at Hemsworth Community Centre.

Hemsworth MP Mr Trickett said claims were made that monies from the individual schools in WCAT had been pooled to pay off a financial deficit accumulated by the academy chain.

He said: “The meeting was told that money was taken from local schools within the trust and retained in the centre to resolve the precarious financial position of the trust. But this is taxpayers’ money. It is meant for local children’s education.

“I was also equally concerned about the possibility of teacher redundancies.”

Mr Trickett has asked the National Audit Office (NAO) to investigate the financial management of WCAT.

The NAO confirmed it was considering Mr Trickett’s request.

A Department for Education spokesman said: “Regional Schools Commissioners are working with Wakefield City Academy Trust to have new sponsors in place for all academies with minimal disruption for pupils.”

On September 8, the end of the first week of term, WCAT made the shock announcement that it was pulling out of running its 21 Yorkshire schools.

At the time the trust said in a statement: “Our students’ best interests, as ever, remain our focus and they and parents should be reassured that this decision will have a positive impact on education provision.”

WCAT is yet to comment further.

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