Demanding answers of the Prime Minister in Parliament today over why the Government awarded contracts for schools in Yorkshire to the now collapsed Wakefield City Academy Trust (WCAT), Imran accused the Government of ignoring serious concerns around the Trust’s financial stability.

A year before WCAT collapsed in September 2017 at the start of the 2017/18 academic year, the Department for Education’s Education Funding Agency launched an investigation into the Trust, with a leaked draft of the resulting report stating that WCAT was in an “extremely vulnerable position” with inadequate governance and overall financial management.

However, Mr Hussain states that whilst concerns about WCAT were also raised with the Schools Commissioner as far back as 2015, the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Secretary of State for Education who has responsibility for finalising academy deals ignored these concerns and agreed to transfer three schools in the Bradford District in early summer 2016.

Just over a year after these schools transferred to WCAT as part of the Trust’s rapid and aggressive expansion, the Trust collapsed, leaving schools across the region without academy sponsors and without hundreds of thousands of pounds in funding that had been stripped from them by WCAT, a move which Mr Hussain has claimed will negatively impact on the education of children in these schools.

Speaking on the Government’s decision to award contracts to WCAT despite being aware of serious concerns about the Trust, Imran said:

“The collapse of Carillion which held numerous Government contracts this week demonstrates the Government’s negligent lack of scrutiny of this company, but as we see from the collapse of WCAT last year, who were also granted contracts from the Government despite concerns around their suitability, it also shows that the Government’s murky relationship with the private sector runs much deeper.

“The Prime Minister failed to answer the questions that I put to her in Parliament over why the Department for Education and the Regional Schools Commissioner willingly ignored the numerous warnings coming from the Wakefield City Academy Trust, but it is clear to me that the Government have decided to abandon proper oversight of schools in pursuit of rapid expansion of academies whilst they cut teaching budgets.

“Before their collapse, Wakefield City Academy Trust stripped hundreds of thousands of pounds from two schools in my constituency and doubtless much more from schools across the region, and I was extremely shocked and concerned that the Prime Minister also failed to listen to the concerns of parents and teachers and ensure that the money will be returned to the schools WCAT took it from before children suffer further.

“Academisation has taken accountability of schools away from local authorities and placed it in the hands of unelected Regional Schools Commissioners and the Secretary of State for Education, who has responsibility for oversight of all academies across the country, but the fiasco at WCAT just shows how important clear accountability is and how serious the failings in the academisation programme are.”

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