It’s not just NHS trusts that are in the red. The BBC reports that 113 academy school trusts are in debt to the tune of £25m. Eye watering tales of financial mismanagement include at least one trust paying large sums to outside companies owned by the … errrr … trust founders.
Trevor Averre-Beeson and his wife Jane Fielding are the co-founders of the Lilac Sky Schools Academy Trust. The trust is not only in £665,000 of debt — the founders employed two of their children and siphoned off more than £800,000 in payments for services to ‘outside companies’ that had been set up by Averre-Beeson and Fielding.
Luckily the Education Funding Agency has now ordered the ‘services’ payments from Lilac Sky be stopped and the trust is to hand over the nine schools it runs to a new sponsor.
One parent put it bluntly to the beeb:
“As far as I’m concerned this was all about business and making money and little to do with educating children.”
Lilac Sky is by no means the only disaster in the edu-business sector, where horror stories include one academy “where the headteacher had spent £50,000 on a one-day training course run by their friend”.
Even the executive head of Perry Beeches — an academy lauded by both Gove and Cameron — was forced to quit in May when it emerged the trust had accumulated a whopping £2.1m deficit.
The financial fun may not be over, however, with reports in July that Averre-Beeson is involved in a bid to open a Free School in Barnet next year.
No doubt it’ll be a model of prudence and care when it comes to taxpayer funds.