Writing to the Education Secretary ahead of the impending liquidation of the Wakefield City Academy Trust which ran two schools in Bradford East prior to their collapse, Imran has demanded that the Government returns the full amount that WCAT stripped from the schools.
Wakefield City Academy Trust previously operated Barkerend Academy and Thornbury Academy in Imran’s constituency of Bradford East, but collapsed at the start of the 2017/18 academic year, leaving all 21 schools across the country operated by the Trust with an uncertain future. However the schools were ultimately re-brokered to a new Academy Trust, and as part of this process, Imran ensured that the Department for Education would allocate £750,000 in funding for the new trust to help protect and guarantee the education of the pupils at Barkerend and Thornbury Academies.
This £750,000 was however part of transitional support funding provided by the Department for Education and did not include the £300,000 which was set aside by the schools for a ‘rainy day’ fund and to make investments in their pupils’ education, but which was then stripped by WCAT’s management into WCAT’s centralised fund after taking over the schools in 2016.
After WCAT’s collapse in September 2017, the schools believed that this money would be lost, but during meetings at the Department for Education, Minister’s confirmed to Imran that following the full financial wind-up of WCAT, any remaining assets belonging to the Trust would be redistributed to the schools that they previously operated. However, during these meetings, Ministers failed to confirm the full amount returned to each school, which has triggered Imran’s letter to the Education Secretary demanding clarity and confirmation that the full amount will be returned.
Speaking on the savings stripped from Barkerend and Thornbury Academies by WCAT, Imran said:
“Prior to their collapse, several concerns were raised about Wakefield City Academy Trust and it’s academic and financial performance, and it is clear that the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education should never have allowed the Academy Trust to expand as quickly as it did and should never have authorised the takeover of schools in Bradford.
“For the last two years after WCAT’s collapse, I have been fighting hard on behalf of the teachers, the parents and the pupils at Barkerend and Thornbury Academy to ensure that the £300,000 in savings that the Trust’s management stripped from is returned, and the Government must act after the final liquidation of WCAT to guarantee that it will be. This money was set aside by the schools to invest in the education of their pupils, and this must not be allowed to suffer because of the mistakes made by WCAT, the Regional Schools Commissioner and the Department for Education.
“The Department for Education must also act to put protections in place to ensure that this kind of situation is never repeated and ensure that no Academy Trust in the future is able to put the education of children at risk by expanding too fast without scrutiny, or by ruthlessly plundering the bank accounts of the schools that they take over.”