Academy chains are essentially private businesses where accountability to the staff and public has been severely eroded in comparison to when schools were run by the public for the public.

The issue was most illuminated throughout the past year at South Bank MAT (multi academy trust), starting with the wholly unnecessary and brutal decision to slash the pay of some school support staff.

Following this, the attempts to hold the MAT trustees to account and challenge their decisions has led to a complete breakdown in trust between them and the school communities.

It never had to be this way.

The local trade unions asked to speak to the Trustees, who are ultimately responsible for this decision, but they refused to speak to us or the staff.

They do not provide their contact details so we can raise concerns with them.

This means that we, alongside everyone else, must go through a gatekeeper who firmly bolts the gates.

They are unaccountable and unreachable to the communities they are supposed to serve.

The issue of headteacher recruitment is another example of this accountability breakdown.

There are genuine and pressing questions that parents, staff and unions need answers to, but they again revert back to silence.

Mike Kearney York NEU (National Education Union) District Secretary, Willis Street, York