Wakefield City Academies Trust pulls out of 21 schools

Pupils in secondary classroom
Image caption,
Wakefield City Academies Trust said the decision was in the "best interests" of pupils

A trust which runs 21 schools has announced it is pulling out in the first week of the new term.

Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) said it was unable to "facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need, and our students deserve".

The Department for Education (DfE) said many of the schools within the trust were performing below the national average.

It said it would work with the trust until a new sponsor could be found.

Only four of the schools are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

Eleven out of 14 primary schools and six of the seven secondary schools were performing below the national average in 2016.

In a statement, the trust said it recognised the announcement would cause uncertainty but said the decision was in the "best interests" of the students.

A DfE spokesperson said academies operate within a strict system of accountability, allowing swift action to "deal with under-performance".

It said its priority was to ensure all children receive the best possible education.

Lack of accountability

Regional commissioners are now working with the schools to identify new sponsors and ensure minimal disruption for pupils.

Damian Walenta, from the National Education Union, said the news had come as no surprise and was largely down to a lack of accountability.

"Whilst the quality and values of academy chains vary greatly, we hear more and more bad news about poor academy chains," he said.

In November, The Independent newspaper reported the trust had paid its then chief executive £82,000 for 15 weeks' work.

An investigation into WCAT found it had been put in an "extremely vulnerable position as a result of inadequate governance, leadership and overall financial management".

Affected academies

West Yorkshire: Barkerend Academy, Bell Lane Academy, Havercroft Academy, Heathview Academy, Hemsworth Arts and Community Academy, High Crags Academy, Thornbury Academy, Wakefield Community Academy, Kinsley Academy, Morley Place Academy, The Freeston Academy, West End Academy.

South Yorkshire: Balby Carr Academy, Brookfield Academy, Carr Lodge Academy, Mexborough Academy, Montagu Academy, Waverley Academy, Willow Academy, Yewlands Academy.

East Yorkshire: Goole High School Academy.

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