Accountants 'brought in to examine collapse of Wakefield City Academies Trust'

MP says he lacks confidence in the system after meeting Justine Greening to discuss the failure of prominent academy chain

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A leading accountancy firm has been appointed to examine the collapse of Wakefield City Academies Trust but the government has failed to say whether its findings will be published, an MP has claimed.

Jon Trickett, who represents Hemsworth in Yorkshire, was among a group of MPs who this afternoon met education secretary Justine Greening to discuss the academy chain, and the future of the 21 schools it said in September it was giving up.

Mr Trickett told Tes that Ms Greening refused to discuss what went wrong at WCAT.

He said: “There was a determined effort not to discuss how we got into this mess in the first place. I think questions have to be asked and answered.”

He criticised the failure of the Department for Education or the regional schools commissioner to intervene earlier over WCAT, which he said left him with no confidence in them as they tried to address the aftermath of its collapse.

Mr Trickett said Ms Greening “did say that Deloitte were in there doing a forensic analysis of what happened”.

However, he said the education secretary twice avoided his questions about whether its findings would be published.

Do parents support the proposals?

He said Ms Greening told the MPs that parents supported the proposals to split WCAT’s schools between eight alternative sponsors.

However, he said: “I represent some very poor people, a lot of whom do not have cars, and there’s not a lot of public transport. The consultation about the successor bodies took place quite a long way from the parents.

“Then we were told the parents support the proposals. It was hard to feel that that was possibly right because the vast majority of the parents I represent could not go to the meetings because they could not get to them.”

The DfE refused to comment on any of the specifics discussed during this afternoon’s meeting.

However, a spokesperson said: “Our priority is to make sure all children receive the best possible education, and it is because we wanted to see better and faster improvement for these schools that we stepped in.

“We will continue to discuss this with parents, governors, staff and MPs as we look to transfer all WCAT academies to new trusts by the end of the academic year, to minimise any disruption and ensure that these schools start improving and deliver the best outcomes for pupils."

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