Failing academy trust to give up running all of its 21 primary and secondary schools

  • Video report by ITV News Correspondent Helena Carter

A failing academy trust which is part of a flagship government policy has asked to give up running all of its 21 schools just a few days into the new term.

Most of the schools run by the Wakefield City Academies Trust are rated below the national average and it says it can no longer cope.

The academy made the "urgent announcement" in a statement saying it had concluded it could not make the "rapid improvement" in education which its students deserve.

Just four of its schools across Yorkshire are rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted, while 11 out of the 14 primary academies, and six of the seven secondary schools are below the national average.

The Department for Education (DfE) said it would work with the trust until a new sponsor can be found.

In a statement, the trust said the decision to pull out was reached following a "robust period of review".

"Our conclusion is that the trust does not have the capacity to facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need and our students deserve," it said.

"The board recognises this announcement will cause uncertainty, particularly for our staff. It will work with them to ensure the transition to new sponsors is as seamless as possible.

"Our students' best interests, as ever, remain our focus and they and parents should be reassured that this decision will have a positive impact on education provision."

The academies will remain part of WCAT until a sponsor can be found, when the trust's funding agreement will be terminated and the trust will dissolve.

Labour MP for Wakefield Mary Creagh told ITV News: "I'll be writing to (Education Secretary) Justine Greening on Monday saying that the collapse of this trust is simply not good enough, that local people want and deserve answers and to ask what steps she is taking, swiftly, to put in place new management - and what steps she is taking to make sure for the next 12 weeks of this term, that pupils get the education that they deserve."

Jerry Glazier, of the National Education Union, said they were concerned it would not be the only academy trust to give up running schools.

A DfE spokesman said the department had agreed to the "re-brokerage" of all 21 schools under WCAT's control.

It said that a "strict system of oversight" for academy schools means they were able to step in to take action or transfer schools to new trusts if they were not performing.

They added: "Our priority is to ensure all children receive the best possible education and the Regional Schools Commissioners for Lancashire and West Yorkshire and the East Midlands and Humber are working with the trust to identify new sponsors and to ensure minimal disruption for pupils."