Wakefield Council leader: ‘Trust must be investigated’

Around 20 children were taken home by their parents
Around 20 children were taken home by their parents
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Police should be called in to investigate the demise of an academy chain, says the leader of Wakefield Council.

During a meeting of full council yesterday, it was claimed that Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) transferred millions of pounds of schools’ savings into its own centralised account prior to its collapse.

And three of the district’s member schools could now lose a total of more than £1.5m.

Council leader Coun Peter Box and leader of the opposition Coun Nadeem Ahmed were among several councillors to call for a police investigation.

Coun Box said: “It has been suggested that we refer this matter to the police. Can I totally endorse that suggestion? We have heard statements from colleagues that make it quite clear that there are serious questions to be answered.”

A motion, put forward by Coun Kevin Swift and debated by councillors, said that Hemsworth Arts and Community Academy faces losing £436,000 of its reserves, Wakefield City Academy £800,000 and Heath View Primary £300,000.

The motion, which called for the “full restitution” of money transferred from school reserves into WCAT central accounts, was approved.

Councillors also agreed the trust should not dissolve until its affairs had been fully investigated and the results made public, and they are calling for “full transparency and democratic accountability to be restored” into the education system.

Speaking in parliament earlier this month education minister Nick Gibb said the trust will not be able to retain any of its reserves once it has formally been dissolved. And in a statement, a DfE spokesperson said: “A failing academy trust must never profit from the re-brokerage of its schools.”

WCAT declined to comment.