A petition calling for the 21 schools in the Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) to be returned to their local authorities has gained hundreds of signatures.
The academy chain announced last week that it wanted to give up all 21 of its schools after concluding it was unable to rapidly improve them.
The petition, which had nearly 700 signatures at the time of writing, calls on the Department for Education to allow local authorities to take back democratic control of WCAT schools in their area and for the government to provide local authorities with the finances to do this – and to continue to support the schools.
Only four of the WCAT’s schools are judged "good" or "outstanding" by Ofsted and an “urgent announcement” posted by the trust’s board on Friday said that it had asked the DfE to work with it to place the academies with new sponsors.
"Our children's education should not be used as a political football," the online petition states and calls for schools to be returned to the maintained sector.
“We demand that: the Department of Education allows local authorities to take back democratic control of the academies in their area, that used to be part of the Wakefield City Academy Trust,” the petition continues.
Wakefield City Academies Trust issues
Justine Greening, education secretary, was jeered when she sidestepped a series of questions about the trust in the House of Commons yesterday.
Ms Greening said that it was important to take “swift action” to have the schools involved re-brokered, but then launched an attack on the Labour party’s record in education prompting Yvette Cooper, MP for Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, to say Greening's answer was "not good enough" and to call for a review of accountability in multi-academy trusts.
A DfE spokesperson said: “We have agreed to the re-brokerage of all 21 schools under the Wakefield City Academy Trust’s control.
“Academy trusts operate under a strict system of oversight and accountability – more robust than in council-run schools – allowing us to take swift action to deal with under-performance, including transferring schools to new trusts where necessary.”