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JON TRICKETT: Collapse of Wakefield City Academies Trust has been worrying

Wakefield City Academies Trust has published its accounts.
Wakefield City Academies Trust has published its accounts.
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For children and parents in our area, the last few months have been worrying ones.

The collapse in September of the Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT), which ran five schools in our constituency and more elsewhere, has caused considerable disruption.

It has also lifted the lid on the scandalous long-term practices that were happening at this now notorious multi-academy trust.

We found out that key committees weren’t even meeting and that a culture of secrecy prevailed.

I could list more failings, each as shocking as the next, but most frustrating is the role of the Conservative government.

The Department of Education was aware of the problems at WCAT a year before its collapse yet failed to act. Almost 18 months later the process of rebrokering the academies is only just getting somewhere.

Yet I’m glad we are finally moving towards a degree of certainty. Education is precious and our children deserve the best of it. I know staff are doing a fantastic job under very difficult circumstances and if it wasn’t for them these schools would be in an even more difficult position.

And to be clear: the reason for the schools’ performance is due to mismanagement by the trust.

Yet it seems WCAT is not just a bad apple. The failures that defined the collapse of this trust seem to be present at others, many of which are ran like businesses by people with little educational experience.

We can’t understand the problems in our education system without mentioning how this Conservative government and the coalition before them have taken an axe to education funding, with Yorkshire one of the worst affected areas. The National Audit Office recently announced that schools in England were facing an 8 per cent real-terms cut in funding per pupil by 2019-20, as a result of £3bn worth of cuts.

This paints a grim picture. But there is hope in Labour’s commitment to boost educational funding and launch a cradle-to-grave National Education System.

There are big debates to be had and we want to kickstart these. If you’re interested in WCAT and the future of education, then join me at an event on education at The Grove in South Kirkby (WF9 3QF) on Thursday, February 22 at 7pm.

It’s free and all are welcome, and I’d love to hear what you have to say.

Alternatively, get in touch by calling 01977 655695 or email jtrickett@jontrickett.org.uk

You can also drop into my constituency office and talk to a member of staff, at Moorthorpe Railway Station, Barnsley Road, from 9.30am to 4pm Monday to Friday.

To keep up to date with all my campaigns and Parliamentary work, visit www.jontrickett.org.uk