Crisis-hit academy chain cleared after police investigation

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A police investigation into a crisis-hit academy chain has found that no crimes were committed when it suddenly stopped running several schools in South Yorkshire - including one in Sheffield.

West Yorkshire Police was looking into information about Wakefield City Academies Trust, which announced last September that it would cease running all of its 21 schools across Yorkshire, including Yewlands Academy, in Grenoside.

It followed a motion passed by Wakefield Council calling for police to investigate the organisation’s finances.

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A police spokesman said: “Wakefield Police have now completed a review of information passed to officers regarding this matter. No crimes have been recorded and relevant authorities have been made aware.”

Claims were made that money had been transferred from individual schools to WCAT’s central accounts before the collapse of the organisation.

In March, the Government’s Academies Minister Lord Agnew said a leading accountancy firm had found 'no evidence of financial wrongdoing' after being hired to look at WCAT’s financial position.

It followed the publication of WCAT’s annual accounts in January, in which the organisation declared itself to be 'financially solvent'.

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A WCAT spokesman said: “We are pleased to hear the police inquiry has ended.

“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.”

WCAT announced just days into the new school year that it was pulling out of all its schools.

Just four out of its 21 schools were rated as good’ or outstanding’ by Ofsted, and the trust said that it could not provide the quality of education its pupils deserved.

The affected academies in South Yorkshire were Yewlands Academy, in Sheffield; Balby Carr Academy, in Doncaster; Brookfield Academy, in Rotherham; Carr Lodge Academy, in Doncaster; Mexborough Academy, in Doncaster; Montagu Academy, in Doncaster; Morley Place Academy, in Doncaster; Waverley Academy, in Doncaster and Willow Academy, in Doncaster.

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New trusts have since been found for most of the schools.