Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was once hailed as an ‘outstanding’ academy trust by former education secretary Nicky Morgan. It was so favoured that it received a share of £10m to take over schools in the north of England.
This largesse was despite the Department for Education having been sent ‘a string of concerns’ about the trust.
In September 2017, WCAT decided to give up its 21 academies. This followed an unpublished but critical report by the DfE. Wakefield Council demanded an inquiry into the failed chain arguing the DfE was ultimately responsible.
Now the full extent of the WCAT scandal has been exposed on BBC’s Inside Out for Yorkshire and Lincolnshire. The investigation, by former Schools Week reporter Jess Staufenberg, is summarised here. It reveals that Mike Ramsay, the former CEO of WCAT, spent £1.5k on railings to enclose an outdoor area for his pet dog, that Ramsay’s close friend acted as chief operating officer and signed of his expenses and that Ramsay and his daughter, who provided clerking services via HDR Services, a company for which there appears to be no record, made nearly £1m from WCAT.
The DfE has spent just over £1.7m in rebrokering WCAT’s academies. It has also spent £200k with Deloitte for winding up the defunct academy trust.
EXTRA 12.51: The DfE has responded to the Inside Out programme. It says it's strengthened rules since the WCAT collapse. Schools minister Lord Agnew said WCAT was not representative of academies. While that is true, it doesn't explain why the DfE gave WCAT part of the £10m fund for developing academy hubs in the north when concerns about WCAT's finances were already known.
CORRECTION 13.17: This obviously isn't my week - a second error in two days. The original article said WCAT's CEO had paid £15k for his dog pen. The correct figure was £1.5k.