Liverpool Echo meets wall of silence asking questions of academy and warns over lack of accountability in new system

The Liverpool Echo has raised concerns about lack of accountability for academy schools after finding it impossible to find someone who would answer questions about the closure of a sixth form.
 
The closure of Halewood Academy's sixth form will leave the borough covered by Knowsley council without anywhere providing A-level education.
 
Echo reporter Tom Belger met a blanket refusal to answer questions from anyone at the school, and was instead invited to look at a website for statements.
 
He wrote: "I was surprised the school did not want to further explain such a huge decision, but I made do with the statement online."
 
When he sought to do a follow-up story reflecting widespread parental concerns about the move he spoke to the council only to be told that "regional schools commissioners" were responsible for overseeing academies.
 
He asked regional commissioner for Lancashire and West Yorkshire Vicky Beers what her views were on the withdrawl of A-level provision from Knowsley. He was told to direct his enquiries instead to the Department of Education. He said this was "a little bizarre" because the department had already rejected a petition from Halewood parents saying that it was not responsible.
 
The Halewood principal eventually contacted the Echo more than two weeks after the closure announcement with an emailed statement which repeated what was on the school's website.
 
Berger wrote: "The only thing stopping me laughing at how difficult it is to find someone to hold to account is the fact children’s futures are at stake.
 
"If journalists struggle to get answers to their questions, is it as hard for parents to do the same?
 
"And with plans to make all schools academies, it raises a troubling question – will every school become this hard to hold to account?"
 

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