You will find numerous articles elsewhere in this website, most recently here, on the notorious Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust which had its schools removed by the Regional Schools Commissioner at Christmas, a probable multi-million pound deficit carried over from 2014/15 being absorbed by government, although the 2016 Accounts are now well overdue.
The Education Funding Agency launched an Investigation into the affairs of Lilac Sky, but efforts by myself and the Schoolsweek blog to discover its outcome have been blocked.
Lilac Sky Schools Limited took over a small private primary school in Croydon last summer, the Virgo Fidelis Preparatory School, as explained here, and changed its name and that of the company to Henriette Le Forestier. Comments at the foot of my article contain examples of the many concerns expressed to me by parents who sought out this site looking for answers. These concerns have proved to be fully justified, as the school has closed this week, and the company placed into voluntary liquidation, owing another £917,000.
Amongst other casualties of the system, is Knockhall Academy near Dartford a previous Lilac Sky Academies in Kent and its children.
Henriette Le Forestier Schools Ltd
The Statement of Affairs relating to the insolvency shows that the main unsecured creditors of the Company, whose Chairman was Trevor Averre-Beeson, are the staff, owed a total of £271,000 in unpaid salary, and the Landlord, Our Lady of Fidelity Convent, the senior school on whose land Henriette Le Forestier Preparatory School (HLFPS) lies, which has lost £375,000.
To close an active and presumably financially sound school (otherwise why buy it?), after running up debts of nearly a million pounds, in nine months, must be somewhat of a record.
Neither the staff, who were unpaid at Christmas and possibly not since, nor the children turfed out of their school at short notice bear any responsibility for the debacle, but for both groups this is of course far more difficult than for Mr Averre-Beeson. He has probably not suffered any personal loss again, except for his reputation.
Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust
To my great surprise, another creditor is Lilac Sky Academy Trust, which I thought had long gone, but is still owed £2,088. Perhaps the omission of the word “Schools” from the name of the Trust as creditor in the State of Affairs is significant.
Companies House tells us that the Trust is still operating and has six officers, who are presumably responsible for producing the well overdue 2016 accounts. These should provide some answers to how the previous year’s deficit of nearly £2 million was managed, but any report of the Investigation into the Trust's affairs looks doomed to be another well kept secret. One of the Trustees is Angela Barry, Executive Head of the Academy Trust that now runs Knockhall Academy, taken over from Lilac Sky in January.
Knockhall Academy is now run by the Woodland Trust Academy chain, Executive Headteacher Angela Barry, put in by the Regional Schools Commissioner (RSC) to oversee the conversion of all the previous Lilac Sky academies to new management, in her role as one of the RSC's Board of Advisory Headteachers. Sadly, this has been a disastrous change for the school, and I have had several correspondents expressing their anger at what is happening, with some staff even claiming it was better under Lilac Sky! One brave, or foolish, decision by the school is to publish a Parental Survey, carried out this summer. There were responses from 155 families of the 515 children. The survey results start with the OFSTED Parental survey format, including just 55% of responses agreeing that the school is well led and managed, the same low percentage being willing to recommend the school to other parents. The real sting in the tail is that all written comments are published, painting a massive story of staff turnover, and large numbers of temporary teachers in some cases unqualified, variable teaching quality, and concerns about leadership. Yes, there are positive comments, but school governors and the leadership should be appalled at this description of the school. There is also a reported increasing turnover of pupils as parents look for alternative schools, including children of staff that work at the school.