Unions demand government talks over future of teachers at Wakefield City Academies Trust

13th September 2017 at 15:21
Wakefield City Academies Trust is giving up all its schools.
TUC backs demand for 'thorough and urgent independent review' of trust that is giving up all of its schools

The TUC has called for the government to hold immediate talks over the future of staff at the 21 schools of the collapsed Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT).

The urgent motion, carried at the TUC’s annual conference this afternoon, also urged a “thorough and urgent independent review” of failings at the controversial academy trust.

Last week, the trust announced it had asked the Department for Education for permission to give up all of its schools after it concluded it did not have the capacity to improve them rapidly.

Education secretary Justine Greening was jeered in Parliament on Monday when she side-stepped questions about the trust.

The DfE is now trying to find alternative sponsors for the 14 primary and seven secondary schools, after which WCAT will be wound up.

Today’s motion, proposed by the National Education Union and seconded by the GMB, said: “Congress calls on the government to hold immediate talks with unions representing staff at WCAT and with the relevant local authorities to guarantee the continued employment of all staff, and to address the impact of this collapse on the communities affected.

“Congress calls for a thorough and urgent independent review into the failures at the WCAT, the regulation and accountability of academy sponsors, and the role of the government in preventing future failures in the academies sector.”

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT union, said: “For the pupils and staff in these schools, instead of starting the new academic year with stability and optimism, they now face chaos and confusion as the academy trust collapses around them.

“This isn’t the first example of a trust collapsing, putting in jeopardy the future of young people and the livelihoods of teachers and other staff. Regrettably it won’t be the last.

“How many more pupils, parents and staff must face this anxiety before the government acts to address the major flaws in its academisation programme.”

Last week, a DfE spokesperson said: “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 underperformance, including transferring schools to new trusts where necessary.

“Our priority is to ensure all children receive the best possible education, and the regional schools commissioners for Lancashire and West Yorkshire and the East Midlands and Humber are working with the trust to identify new sponsors and to ensure minimal disruption for pupils.”

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