MORE than a year has passed since the beleaguered Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) made a shock announcement that it would cease to run its 21 schools across Yorkshire.
Days into the new school term last September, the trust’s board said WCAT did not have the capacity to facilitate the rapid improvement its students deserved. Fifteen months on and questions still remain about how the demise was able to occur – and, even more alarmingly, whether something like this could happen again.
Last month saw the long-awaited publication of two reviews into the trust’s financial management and governance, dating back to 2015 and 2016. They revealed that the Education Funding Agency had raised concern more than 12 months before the collapse, prompting union leaders and MPs to question whether the crisis could have been averted.
In its latest statement, the Department for Education has said that it intervened to “improve” the trust’s policies and that parents should be “reassured that WCAT is not representative of all academies”. But the fact of the matter is that such action was not sufficient to prevent the trust’s undoing and the uncertainty that followed for both staff and pupils.
If the DfE wants to win back lost trust, it ought to pay heed to calls, made as recently as last month, for an independent inquiry into WCAT’s rise and fall. Such an investigation needs to be held to establish the lessons that still need to be learned, if only to avoid any possibility of history repeating itself and the education of children – the innocent victims here – suffering as a result.