Failed academy’s cashpot will go ‘to the children’

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A collapsed Yorkshire academy chain which has handed over its schools to other trusts is expected to wind up solvent and with a pot of reserves, according to its latest accounts.

Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT), which ran 21 primary and secondary schools in the region, had a cash balance of £2.054m and reserves totalling £656,000 for the year ending August 31, 2018.

Its annual report and financial statements, published on Tuesday, say: “It is envisaged that the trust will be financially solvent beyond the point of re-brokering and until the point of wind-up.

“There are reserves held as at the August, 31, 2018 and the 2018/19 budget anticipates there will be reserves at the point the trust is wound up.”

In a statement, the trust said any surplus would be used for “the benefit of the children”, complying with its charitable status, but did not specify how it could be allocated or spent.

Just days into the school term in September 2017, WCAT’s board said the trust did not have the capacity to bring about rapid improvements its academies needed and would work with the Department for Education to transfer them to new sponsors.

A total of 18 of its schools had made the formal transition from WCAT by the end of the accounts period. During the year, £84.7m worth of assets, including land, buildings, furniture and equipment, were transferred to the takeover trusts, which were also handed £17.3m in pension deficits.

A spokesperson for WCAT said: “It has been a difficult period for the trust and its staff but we are pleased the transition of our academies to new sponsors has run smoothly, with no disruption to children’s education.

“Any surplus, complying with our charitable status, will be used for the benefit of the children.” The accounts for WCAT, which has previously been accused of “asset-stripping” its schools, were given a clean audit with no regulatory issues.