If you are looking to understand this extremely complex story, I recommend that you start at the first article and work through chronologically). However, you may like to see a Lilac Sky explanation of discrepancies in the accounts, to put it into context:
Statement by Trevor Averre-Beeson
Lilac Sky Schools Ltd set up Lilac Sky Schools Academies Trust (LSSAT) in 2012. For some time, as was originally envisaged and discussed with the Department for Education, Lilac Sky Schools Ltd and its sister company, Lilac Sky Outstanding Education Services Ltd provided central services, training and coaching, and leadership support to LSSAT’s schools under contract.
All services were charged at cost and recorded, publicly documented and reported to the Education Funding Agency (EFA) and DfE. We recognised in 2015, however, that some procurement processes should have been more formal and the governance arrangements between Trust and companies more independent and robust. To avoid further potential conflicts of interest I decided that both companies should stop providing services to the Trust and voluntarily stepped down as CEO of the Trust in March 2015 and as Trustee in May 2015.
More recently we have renamed both Lilac Sky Schools Ltd and Lilac Sky Outstanding Education Services Ltd to avoid any additional confusion with the Trust.
Comment: Surely this can only mean that in the statement in both the original and revised 2015 Accounts which reads: "Following discussions with the EFA and Regional Schools Commissioner and to ensure future compliance with the EFA's Academies Financial Handbook, the above transactions were ordered to cease", signed off by the original Trustees, the Trustees wrongly used the phrase "ordered to cease".
Part of the reason for the deficit over the year is recorded as being the removal by the RSC of Tabor Academy, Lilac Sky's first sponsored academy, Chair of Governors Jane Fielding, from the Trust’s control after it went into Special Measures in November 2014, the Report being highly critical about the Trust's management of the school. The RSC then took away a new Primary Academy in Chelmsford from LSSAT, incurring significant costs. This all happened before Lilac Sky Advisers were appointed to the RSC to assist him!. There was also spending on planning for two new primary academies in Kent, which were also taken away from Lilac Sky after the Tabor debacle, all contributing to a net deficit of £665,972 for the year. There was also a pension deficit of £1,320,000 for the year. To recover these costs, the Trust introduced a series of cuts to funding of its academies described in a previous article, which inevitably penalises the pupils and, now the Trust is collapsing, will presumably never be recovered.
The auditor also identified potential irregularities in spending, and uncertainty whether any of these amounts are recoverable. ‘Compensation’ payments of £249,107 to 11 employees may not have been in accordance with regulations. An event costing £14,095 is highlighted, which may well have been the 2014 Lilac Sky Awards Evening at Merchant Taylors Hall, a flavour of whose extravagance can be caught here, perhaps a little over the top! Amongst prize winners at the similar 2013 event was Sue Rogers, for her ‘Wisdom’, just a few months before she left KCC as Director of Education Quality and Standards, to become LSSAT Managing Director. At this time Lilac Sky was regarded as a ‘favoured’ Academy group by KCC and was indeed praised by the Corporate Director of Education for Kent as late as July 2015.
There are further concerns expressed about the proceedings of the Trust, although I am not qualified to comment on them, although I do wonder about an unrecognised grant income of £700,000 which appears to have then gone out to a debtor. However, a comparison of the two sets of accounts is instructive and makes one wonder how the first set were allowed through. Oddly, at the time of writing the original accounts can still be found via the Trust website, although I have downloaded a copy (just in case)
With Lilac Sky Schools Trust, apparently doomed as it has been forced to discard all its schools by the 1st January, 2017, the Trust website has now been spring-cleaned and has also shrunk dramatically, reducing many of its vainglorious promises and ambitions. Although this is a very recent update, it has seen the removal of any reference about the transfer of any or all academies to other Trusts, and indeed positively glows with the virtues of the Trust.
|We ensure that LSSAT academies are safe and welcoming for our pupils and that their learning environment is fun and creative. We always relentlessly pursue the highest of educational standards. We flood all our academies with positivity and our core values of courage, integrity and wisdom are instilled into pupils through leading by example - evident in every classroom and corridor visited across our family of academies.|
It has even managed to introduce a new section of praise from parents, carers and children! However, I am not sure that all the parents of children at Marshlands Academy in Sussex, Tabor Academy in Essex, or several of the other schools that Lilac Sky supported would agree with these sentiments. One also wonders why, if the academies are so wonderful, the DfE saw fit to remove them from Lilac Sky control.
Education 101 win Department for Education contract to support Regional Schools Commissioners in eight RSC Region
13th November 2015
More good news for Education 101 in that we have been successful in winning a two-year contract with the Department for Education to support the Regional Schools Commissioner in the eight RSC Regions, including London Boroughs. Education 101 will be providing specialist advisers to work with the Regional Schools Commissioners on their Free Schools and Open Academies Programme.
Education 101 Advisers will
- advise open academies on effective improvement strategies;
- assess and advise on Free School/UTC/Studio School applications;
- assist the RSC’s in securing suitable sponsorship solutions for relevant maintained schools.
This is long after the disaster at Tabor Academy, leading to the removal of the contract for a new Free School in Chelmsford and the cancellation of two new Kent academy sponsorships – surely someone should have noticed? Presumably now the Department for Education has cancelled the contracts of LSSAT to run its nine academies, serious questions are at last being asked about these appointments. Are they still in place?
The stellar list of highly qualified staff, several of whom are identified in my previous articles on Lilac Sky, has vanished and the only two people now mentioned on the website are the founder, Trevor Averre-Beeson and his wife Jane Fielding.
The peripatetic headquarters of the Company, which began in Chelmsford, were going to brand new purpose built premises at Knockhall Academy, but then settled at Thistle Hill Academy, in Minster, Sheppey in July, have now returned to a different address in Chelmsford less than two months later.