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Troubled Wakefield City Academies Trust to give up all 21 of its schools

Academy chain, which hit the headlines over payments to companies linked to its former chief executive and his daughter, concludes it is unable to rapidly improve its schools

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Academy chain, which hit the headlines over payments to companies linked to its former chief executive and his daughter, concludes it is unable to rapidly improve its schools

A controversial academy trust has asked to give up all 21 of its schools after concluding it was unable to rapidly improve them.

Only four of Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT)’s academies are judged good or outstanding by Ofsted.

An “urgent announcement” posted today by the trust’s board, which was appointed in 2016, said it had reviewed all aspects of the organisation, particularly the quality of its education provision.

It says: “Having undertaken this comprehensive review, led by an experienced CEO, our conclusion is that the trust does not have the capacity to facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need and our students deserve.

“Consequently, the board has requested that the Department for Education work with it to place our academies with new sponsors. Together with the DfE, we will ensure that our academies get the support they need now, and as part of new trusts, to secure the educational experience of children in the schools.”

The academies – seven secondaries and 14 primaries – will remain part of WCAT until a new sponsor is found, and once all the academies have been re-brokered the trust’s funding agreement will be terminated and the trust will dissolve.

In March, the Education Fellowship Trust became the first academy chain to give up all its schools. It asked the DfE to re-broker its 12 academies.

WCAT hit the headlines in 2016 over payments to companies related to its then-chief executive and his daughter.

Its annual accounts revealed it paid £316,489 to an IT firm belonging to then chief executive Mike Ramsay.

A two-year contract worth £123,012 was also awarded to HDR services, a company owned by his daughter, for clerking work.

The trust said that the spending was done through a competitive tendering process. 

And last November, Tes revealed that a leaked draft report showed there was "extreme concern" in the government about WCAT, which faced a large deficit budget but paid its interim chief executive more than £82,000 for 15 weeks' work.

The trust told Tes then that some of the matters raised in the draft report were “legacy issues” relating to its previous management.

A Department for Education spokesperson said: “We have agreed to the re-brokerage of all 21 schools under the Wakefield City Academies 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.

“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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