‘Lack of consultation’ over Wakefield City Academies Trust schools

Yvette Cooper MP
Yvette Cooper MP

Parents are not being consulted about the future of their children’s education after the collapse of a chain of academies, an MP has claimed.

Yvette Cooper said families were worried about what would happen to Freeston Academy in Normanton after Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) announced it would cease running 21 schools.

Speaking in parliament yesterday, Ms Cooper asked education minister Nick Gibb: “They were promised a consultation on the school’s future. They are worried about the future of special educational needs provision and about the school losing its name, its identity, its uniform. But all they have been offered is a meeting in another school in another town.

“They will have to travel miles and book tickets online or else they cannot go.

“Does the minister agree that that is not proper parent consultation and that Normanton parents need consultation in Normanton, at Freeston, before the consultation ends?”

WCAT made the shock announcement on September 8, saying it could no longer run the schools, which also include Wakefield City and Hemsworth academies.

Wakefield City Academy

Wakefield City Academy

Eight WCAT schools in the Wakefield district could be taken over by Outwood Grange Academies Trust.

In response Mr Gibb told Ms Cooper the Department for Education had taken swift action to find new organisations to run the WCAT schools.

He said: “We will not stand still while schools under-perform. We take action. We re-broker academies or we turn failing schools into academies.”

Philip Davies, the Shipley Conservative MP, said WCAT had transferred £276,000 from a school in his constituency, High Crags Primary, to its own accounts.

Mr Davies said: “In recent days that money has been transferred from the school’s account, without its authorisation and without its prior consent, and transferred to the trust.

“Surely the government cannot stand aside and allow £276,000 to be taken out of the budget of a school in one of the most deprived parts of my constituency.”

Mr Gibb said: “The school is now being re-brokered to be supported by the highly successful Tauheedul Education Trust, and Wakefield City Academies Trust will not be able to retain any of the reserves that it holds at the point of dissolution.”

Claims were previously made of monies being transferred from Wakefield City and Hemsworth academies. WCAT is yet to make any further comment.