The government’s response to an academy trust pulling out of the sponsorship of more than 20 schools in Yorkshire is ’not good enough’, MPs say.
Wakefield Academy Trust announced it was stepping away from the 14 primaries and seven high schools in Yorkshire last week, because it was unable to “facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need”.
Constituency MPs, including Labour’s Yvette Cooper and Mary Creagh, said the announcement had been “a bolt from the blue” for parents and pupils, who now faced uncertainty.
During questions to education minister Justine Greening in Parliament on Monday, Creagh asked what steps were being taken to ensure the children affected - many of whom are among the most disadvantaged in the country - would not lose out.
Multi-academy trusts, of which Wakefield is one, are tasked with improving and maintaining educational standards at groups of schools across the country.
Academies received their money direct from the government, rather than from local authorities, through the trusts.
Eleven primary schools and six secondary schools under the Wakefield trust’s responsibility were performing below the national average in 2016.
Greening said the Department for Education was taking “swift action to rebroker the schools”.
Yvette Cooper, who represents Normanton, Pontefract and Castleford, said the situation had occurred a result of the model the government had been “pushing schools into”.
She added: “That answer is just not good enough, and not fair on parents, pupils and teachers.
“They had this announcement in the first week of the new school year, out of the blue, and yet it turns out there have been huge problems with this trust for a long time, on governance, finance, accountability and performance.
“This is a model her department has been pushing schools into.
“Isn’t it time she had full review of the complete failure of local accountability in these multi-academy trusts, and ensure there is enough finance and support in place for pupils in my constituency, to make sure they don’t lose out as result of this failed management?”
Greening responded that education standards overall were on the rise.
She added: “The place in the UK where standards are worst and falling is Wales - where Labour is in control.
“Before pointing the finger, the Labour Party should be apologising to Welsh children who are missing out because of failing education policy there.”