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Privatisation Schools abandoned by asset-stripping academy trust handed new sponsors

Wakefield City Academies Trust collapsed in 2017 but not before it transferred millions of pounds in reserves to its own accounts

NEW sponsors have been announced for 11 schools abandoned by an academy trust accused of “asset-stripping” its schools’ savings before it collapsed last year.

Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) ran 21 schools in West Yorkshire under the government’s much-vaunted academies system but collapsed in 2017 just after it transferred millions of pounds in reserves to its own accounts.

The trust said it was relinquishing control because it was “unable to rapidly improve” the schools but would run them until new sponsors were found.

The Education Department announced last night that 11 of the 21 academies are to be handed to new sponsors.

This decision was slammed by teachers’ union NEU joint general secretary Mary Bousted, who said that the views of parents and staff had been ignored.

“We need to know whether the deficits run up by WCAT have been paid off,” she said today.

“Those schools that loaned money to WCAT, much of it raised by the voluntary activity of parents, need to be told whether these funds will be reimbursed.”

Hemsworth Arts and Community Academy in Pontefract said £220,000 raised by volunteers at Christmas markets and other events had been transferred to the WCAT central account.

And Heath View primary school in Wakefield said £300,000 was transferred to the trust in 2016.

Ms Bousted added: “Parents and staff must be given assurances that, going forward, the schools will have sufficient funds to provide a high-quality education to all pupils with the staff and resources in place to do so.”

She urged new Education Secretary Damian Hinds to scrutinise the events that led to WCAT going bust.

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