It has been more than a month and a half since the news broke that Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was to pull out of running 21 schools, only days into the new academic term.
Yet as we approach the end of October we have still had no answers from WCAT or the government on the collapse. Let’s be clear, there appears to be a total lack of accountability.
WCAT and the government’s actions have been shrouded in secrecy and imposed from above, with little regard for the concerns or worries of those parents, pupils, or staff affected.
Indeed, a lot of parents have been in touch with my office with real fears about their children’s education, which has not been helped by being left in the dark by WCAT.
In an attempt to help address these concerns, I recently spoke at a public meeting held in Hemsworth Community Centre, which was attended by parents, teachers, other staff, and representatives from trade unions.
A number of very serious matters were raised by attendees about the management of the trust and its ultimate failure.
One representative at the meeting explained that WCAT does not intend to repay the hundreds of thousands of pounds it borrowed from schools. This has the potential to leave schools in serious financial jeopardy.
More concerns were raised about the £440,000 paid to private companies owned by the interim chief executive Mike Ramsay and his daughter.
It is unclear to what extent this impacted on the financial stability of WCAT, but there is certainly public interest in ascertaining the facts and whether this was the outcome of financial mismanagement.
I have arranged a meeting with the Under Secretary of State for Schools where I intend to raise these concerns about WCAT, its management, and the circumstances of its collapse.
It is vital that the accountability and transparency in the running of our schools are upheld.
We also need a commitment that there will be no teachers made redundant or any cutbacks to children’s education.
I will look to provide a further update once I have met with the minister and received a response from the National Audit Office regarding my request for an investigation into WCAT.
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