New lease of life for 11 WCAT schools

New lease of life for 11 WCAT schools

Eleven of the schools previously run by the collapsed Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) have officially transferred to new sponsors.

WCAT announced last September that it was giving up all 21 of its schools, because it lacked “the capacity to facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need and our students deserve”.

The move followed the appointment of a new board in July 2016 to address “significant challenges”, particularly concerning “the quality of education provision”.

In October it was revealed that Outwood Grange Academy Trust was to take on some of the former WCAT schools, and in January Tauheedul Education Trust, Aston Community Education Trust, Exceed Learning Partnership, Delta Academies Trust, Astrea Academy Trust, Inspiring Futures Academy, and Brigantia Learning Trust were also named as new sponsors. 

It has also been confirmed recently that Astrea will sponsor Balby Carr Community Academy.

The 11 schools that formally transferred to new sponsors on April 1 were:

  • Brookfield Academy – Aston Community Education Trust
  • Yewlands Academy – Brigantia Learning Trust
  • Barkerend, High Crags and Thornbury academies – Tauheedul Education Trust
  • Goole, Montagu, Morley Place – Delta Academies Trust
  • Waverley – Astrea Academy Trust
  • Bell Lane, Heath View academies – Outward Grange Academies Trust

The remaining WCAT schools are expected to transfer to new sponsors over the next few months, though no final decision has been made yet for Mexborough Academy, which is struggling with private finance initiative contract that costs more than £1 million a year.

WCAT will be formally wound up later in the year.

A spokesperson for the board said: “We are very pleased to confirm 11 out of 21 schools formally transferred to new trusts on April 1. We wish those students, schools and their new sponsors every success.

“The board has, at all times, acted responsibly, putting the interests of students and staff first while also ensuring WCAT continues to be financially solvent until the point it is wound-up.”

In March, the academies minister Lord Agnew announced that an audit of WCAT’s accounts had found “no evidence of financial wrongdoing”.

Wakefield Police also confirmed at the time that they had reviewed information “passed to officers regarding this matter”, after Wakefield Council called for an investigation of the trust’s finances, but Schools Week understands no crimes were recorded.

“We are pleased to hear the police inquiry has ended,” said a WCAT spokesperson.

“This follows confirmation from the Department for Education of a clean audit of our accounts and that there have been no regulatory issues at the trust.

“We will continue working towards the successful transition of all our academies to new sponsors.”