THE Government may need to intervene over “deeply concerning” issues at a crisis-hit academy trust, a Tory MP says.

James Duddridge has written to a group of parents over their concerns about the Southend East Community Academy Trust.

Mr Duddridge, MP for Rochford and Southend East, has been looking into the working practices of the trust - which oversees six schools in the borough - since a report revealed in February that trust staff worked in a “culture of fear”.

He sent a letter on Friday to the Richmond Avenue Primary School parents’ group, which had demanded to know when the trust would bring in a headteacher.

Mr Duddridge has met with the trust, and then schools minister Nick Gibb, on May 23.

He said: “The issues raised are deeply concerning. However, I have been reassured that the trust has continued to meet its education standards to the children.

“That said I cannot see how these problems can assist the provision of decent education for our children.

“The situation needs to be sorted - and quickly. It is clear to me that this will have to involve an intervention from the Department for Education.”

The report by the East of England Local Government Association found there to be a “palpable” amount of fear in the trust, where staff feared for their jobs if they disagreed with decisions made by chief executive officer Ruth Brock.

In May, trustee chairman Maurice Sweeting and vice-chairman Michelle Palles-Clark both resigned, with Mr Sweeting saying he was “at the end of the road”.

James Duddridge met both before they resigned from their roles.

The parents’ group at Richmond Avenue Primary School in Shoebury, said the trust had “no transparency” and the staff and pupils have been let down.

Mr Duddridge added: “Whilst coronavirus has made the investigation challenging for the regional schools commissioner and the Education and Skills Funding Agency, I have remained in contact with the Department of Education throughout their investigation.

“I will be expecting a suitable resolution to be in place in the coming weeks.”

A spokesman for the trust said: "Southend East Community Academy Trust received a letter from the local MP, James Duddridge, late Friday, although we had already made contact with his office to arrange a meeting where the trust would address the matters he refers.

"With regards Richmond Avenue Primary School and Nursery, we have in place a secure, solid and able leadership team and we are pleased that parents acknowledge the hard work of these leaders.

"We appreciate this is frustrating for parents and the Trust will update parents at the soonest opportunity.

"To that extent, the CEO has already offered a meeting with parents to update them and we hope this will happen in the next few days.

"The trust rightly remains focussed on preparing for expanding current provision as we carefully step out of lockdown, ensuring the schools are safe and ready for staff and pupils to return."