IF public confidence is to be maintained in the academy programme so favoured by the Department for Education, Ministers will order – without further prevarication – an immediate inquiry into the Wakefield City Academies Trust’s finances.
Not only did its abrupt collapse at the start of the academic year leave 21 Yorkshire schools in limbo, but some appear to have lost considerable financial reserves accrued by years of fundraising and sound financial management.
If academies are to operate outside the auspices of LEAs, not only must they conform to the high standards and protocols that are rightly expected of all council-run schools, but there must be total transparency over their accounts – another point repeatedly made by this newspaper.
Schools are not businesses. Their primary responsibility is the education of their children. Yet, judging by the distrubing revelations that have come to light with the Wakefield trust, and the eyewatering salaries commanded by ‘executives’ at school chains elsewhere, an inquiry is clearly needed to establish best practice, scrutiny arrangements and remind education leaders of their obligations to local communities.