Aerial photograph from a plane of the Brook Street campus

Education Administration

On 16th August 2019, Matthew Tait, Graham Newton and Danny Dartnaill, all of BDO LLP, were appointed by the High Court of Justice as Joint Education Administrators over the business, property and affairs of the Corporation of West Kent & Ashford College (‘the College’).

The primary focus of the Joint Education Administrators will be to provide an outcome with minimum, if any, disruption to the studies of the existing learners as a whole including, in particular, those learners with special educational needs.

The Joint Education Administrators will work in conjunction with Graham Morley and his senior management team to ensure the continued provision for learners whilst the College continues to operate as normal. At the same, they are also working closely with the Further Education Commissioner to examine a number of options with the purpose of implementing a sustainable solution for the College and its learners whilst also considering the best outcome for creditors.

The Education Administration may be a cause of concern to a number of people or organisations involved with the College. Below are some questions and answers to provide some further information about the Education Administration process and what it means.

All current and prospective students will be contacted directly with information about the Education Administration.

The affairs, business and property of the College are being managed by the Joint Education Administrators who act as agents of the College and without any personal liability.

Matthew Tait and Danny Dartnaill are authorised by the Institute of Chartered Accountants in England & Wales in the UK.

Graham Newton is authorised by the Insolvency Practitioners Association in the UK.

What is education administration? How does it differ from a “normal” administration?

An Education Administration is a process specifically for further education bodies. The objective of an Education Administration is to avoid or minimise disruption to the studies of the existing students of the college as a whole.

This differs to a “normal” Administration where the underlying primary duty of the Administrator is to act in the interests of creditors generally.

Further details as to the education administration process can be found in Department for Education Guidance and Association of Colleges' Guidance.

The financial challenges facing West Kent and Ashford College are such that, in order to secure provision for the learners while balancing the interests of creditors, an application was made to the High Court for West Kent and Ashford College to enter into Education Administration.

An order to place the College into Education Administration was granted on 16 August 2019.

No, this is exactly the same process that Hadlow College entered earlier this year.

No, the College will continue to operate as normal. The Education Administrators are working to provide a sustainable solution that minimises disruption to students and protects the provision of education for learners as a whole in the future.

At this point in time, it would be inappropriate to put a timeframe on the Education Administration process but would stress that the Education Administrators have an obligation to fulfil their duties as expeditiously as possible.

Once a sustainable solution has been achieved and all other assets and matters have been dealt with the Education Administrators will finalise the Education Administration.

Three of the partners of BDO LLP have been appointed by the court as Education Administrators of West Kent and Ashford College. Their priority is to maintain the stability of the College and to minimise disruption for existing students.

As Education Administrators, they will be examining options in order to implement a sustainable solution for the College and its students whilst also considering the best outcome for creditors.

The appointment of Education Administrators only applies to West Kent and Ashford College and does not include its subsidiary.

College staff will continue to be employed as normal and we envisage no changes to staffing as a result of the appointment of the Education Administrators.

There will be no redundancies as a direct result of the Education Administration. The College will continue to operate as normal, ready for enrolment and for courses to start in September 2019.

Yes, the college will be operating as usual.

Wages will continue to be paid at the usual month end payment date.

We do not anticipate any changes to courses as a result of the Education Administration, but should there be any changes then you will be notified of those in the normal manner.

Questions regarding timetabling or the curriculum should be raised in the usual way with the College’s senior management team.

Yes, the College continues to operate as normal and the College is actively recruiting learners.

Yes, the Education Administrators will be working closely with Graham Morley and his team to enable the College to continue to operate as normal during the process.

In the days following the appointment of the Education Administrators, you will be given the opportunity to meet the Education Administrators’ team and to raise any questions that you may have. Please send these to press@westkentandashford.ac.uk. You can also raise questions with the senior management team, your union representatives or send them to janesalzer@westkent.ac.uk.

The Further Education Commissioner recently concluded his options review in relation to the college and issued his proposals for the future of the college’s operations. These proposals included the following:

  • That East Kent College Group should take on West Kent and Ashford College’s provision/ facilities in Ashford.
  • That North Kent College should take on West Kent and Ashford College's provision/facilities in Tonbridge.

 

The Education Administrators support the recommendation that the proposals be implemented.

The Government announced plans for a statutory college insolvency regime in March 2016. There were consultations in July 2016 and February 2018 on the principle and the details. The Department for Education presented legislation to Parliament in November 2016 and secured Royal Assent for the Technical and Further Education Act in May 2017. The legislation came into effect on 31 January 2019.