‘When running publicly funded schools becomes an opportunity for business people to make private financial gains, then something has gone badly wrong’ – Jon Trickett, shadow minister for the cabinet office and shadow lord president of the council reflects on the WCAT scandal in Tes.
Wakefield Council has called for the police to investigate the collapsed Wakefield City Academy Trust (WCAT), which brings together 21 schools, five in my constituency.
This week, I and two colleagues met the secretary of state to discuss the issues raised. Justine Greening wanted only to talk about what happens next.
Obviously, the future education of the children is important, as is that of the schools and staff. But I was determined that we equally addressed what happened in WCAT because it exposes systemic problems in our education system.
Deserving better than WCAT
Education is precious, particularly so in areas like mine. I represent some of the poorest communities in Britain and my area deserves better from trusts like WCAT. Education has been a ladder out of poverty for many people, including myself, but at present, that opportunity is not being afforded to local children in working-class areas like mine.
Cover-ups and secrecy
What has slowly emerged is a picture of financial mismanagement, failing education standards and a swirling pit of vested interests. But because of cover-ups and a culture of secrecy, we still don’t have the full story.
What is certain is that WCAT suffered a gross failure of governance. This was confirmed by two official reports written in the last 18 months, parts of which have been leaked in the media.
Not an isolated case
The truth is that the poor governance of the trust, its inappropriate management and financial irregularities, were such that questions now have to be asked as to whether the whole model of academies and of multi-academy trusts is broken and needs major adjustment. Past academy failures, most notably of the Barnfield Federation in 2013, indicate WCAT is not an isolated case.
Please tell us your thoughts in comments or via Twitter ~ Tamsin
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