However, LSSAT did better with East Sussex County Council, being awarded a Contract worth £200,000 to 'Deliver improvements in schools, colleges and settings' until August 2018. Given the poor performance of several of the Sussex Lilac Sky Academies, it is very surprising the contract was awarded in the first place and one can only hope this arrangement is proving better value.
The downward slide started just a few months later when the Trust was ordered by the DfE to break its connection with the Lilac Sky Companies which had been providing profitable services to the academies.
Feel free to add to or contradict the comments at the foot of this page, or from other articles
You will find a full list of Lilac Sky Academies in my first article, ‘Lilac Sky Academy Trust: The End of the Road’ written in July, and can follow the scandal through three other articles to ‘5 Live Investigates Lilac Sky’. Both of these articles contain links to other scandals involving the group, notably the Furness School closure, where the school was left with a £1.6 million deficit, with the remainder of Kent's maintained schools picking up the bill. Initially, KCC strongly praised their work, although more recently has described their actions as ‘outrageous’.
Schoolsweek reported that the £2,000,000 deficit at the end of 2014/15 (which is unlikely to have got smaller since then) will be picked up by the new sponsors, although I understand from one of the schools concerned this is not to happen, so presumably the bill for the binge will be picked up by government from the education budget. My previous articles explain the loss as arising through the arrangement to provide services by the profit-making Lilac Sky Schools companies (now renamed Education 101 and Henrietta Le Forestiere Schools (no website yet) in an attempt to remove the toxicity of the name) which depart from this scene financially happy and scot-free. 2013/14 accounts show the founder receiving a direct £500,018 payment from the Trust in his capacity as majority shareholder.
At Thistle Hill Academy, on the Isle of Sheppey, Vicky Averre-Beeson, daughter of the founder of LSSAT, who had been Principal of the academy amongst other roles, having held a number of other senior short term roles in the Trust, jumped ship as soon as the closure was announced and presumably has found another niche. The Headquarters of LSSAT moved from its original site in Chelmsford to Thistle Hill as still recorded on the Academy website, although it moved back to the Averre-Beeson farm estate some months ago.
I understand that Stephen Capper, Principal of Knockhall Academy, one of the nine schools of LSSAT, lost his job on the last but one day of the Autumn Term, possibly asked to leave by the new owners, the Woodland Academy Trust. In a letter to parents, the link confirms that Knockhall is requiring parents to replace the expensive purple uniforms at their own expense fo rnew ones reflecting the new academy groups, as I suspect the other eight schools will also be doing. Mr Capper took up post from his previous position, having taken Futures Community Academy, a secondary school in Southend, into Special Measures. Shortly after he joined Knockhall it was taken over by Lilac Sky. He won’t have been the only one to go, but will Lilac Sky recycle him as they do with many of their other appointments when they are dispensed with in a role?
The Lilac Sky Philosophy (Guardian 2012)
Trevor Averre-Beeson says for-profit firms are more focused on improving a school than a new headteacher would be.
For-profit companies should be brought in to help improve hundreds of underperforming state schools, according to the former headteacher of an inner-city comprehensive.
Trevor Averre-Beeson, ex-head at Islington Green comprehensive in north London, now works as the education director of one of the UK's biggest for-profit education firms, Lilac Sky Schools.
He said many of the 1,310 primary schools and 107 secondaries deemed underperforming could be "transformed" by companies such as his own.
The government's preferred model for underperforming schools is to turn them into academies. The trusts of academy schools must be established on a not-for-profit basis and the trusts can let contracts for the running of parts or all of a school's services. As long as a full EU procurement is carried out, this contract can be let for-profit. The same applies to non-academy schools.
Averre-Beeson said for-profit companies could just as easily work with failing schools that were not academies as schools that were.
"Becoming an academy is a solution for the majority of under-performing schools, but when there is a strong desire to maintain the character of a school … the solution could be for a company to run the school on a contracted-out basis for a number of years," he said. His company has contracts with 21 UK schools and is negotiating several more.
Averre-Beeson said for-profit companies were more focused on improving a school than a new headteacher would be because they had a contract with specific targets to reach. He said they were more accountable to local communities and governing bodies as a result.
"There are some schools that have been closed down and reopened. That is one solution and it works in the right circumstances, but where the local community doesn't want a school to close, it could enter into a contract with a private organisation. Schools don't have to go down an academy route," he said.
David Bell, who was permanent secretary at the Department for Education until the end of 2011, told the Guardian this month that he saw "no principled objection" to profit-making companies taking over state schools and expected they probably would do eventually.