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Lavant House School Educational Trust Limited - Administration report

Nicola Layland and Carl Faulds of Portland Business & Financial Solutions were appointed as joint administrators of Lavant House School Educational Trust Limited on 18th July 2016.

The administrators are now able to provide their proposals to the creditors, the report can be found here

The company operated under charitable status as a girls only private school from freehold premises in Lavant, Chichester.  The buildings and grounds that made up the school were gifted in 1954.  The company was later incorporated in 1966 and continued to trade from the premises as a company limited by guarantee and also as a registered charity.

The school traded successfully for many years, more recently providing independent day and full boarding education for girls from the age of 4 to 18.  As well as providing education for fee paying students, the school also offered bursaries and grants to allow those who may not be able to afford the fees to attend the school.  The school offered small classes enabling students to be taught in a way which was tailored for them.

In recent years the school has suffered from a downturn in the number of pupils.  At the end of 2014/15 school fees had dropped significantly, the governors put together a five year plan based on a planned growth in pupil numbers.  An agreement was reached with a lender to provide additional funding secured against the land and buildings, repayable from September 2017 to provide funding whilst the downturn was turned around.  The lender took over the existing mortgage already in place with additional funding being available on top of the amount already borrowed, the payment of which was reliant on the school achieving its budgets.

In an attempt to generate interest a committee was set up to drive the marketing of the school and strengthen its reputation as a prestige private school for girls.  New income streams were also considered and a new head mistress was brought in, implementing new teaching methods.

Despite all efforts intake for 2015/2016 had dropped, in turn the projected intake for 2016/2017 dropped also.  It was clear that the future losses would be far greater than originally anticipated and the options to turn the company around were not sufficient in the time available.  The governors sought the advice of Portland Business and Financial Support and concluded that trading should finish at the end of the academic year, closing the school thereafter unless a significant new rescue plan could be found.

In May 2016 parents and staff were made aware of the pending closure.  The parents tried to find a way to save the school but despite their best efforts this could not be done.

The directors appointed Nicola Layland and Carl Faulds as joint administrators.

Immediately following their appointment the administrators secured the site.  Although the school is not trading the head mistress has been kept on by the administrators to help with the orderly conclusion of the administration of former pupils, this included coordinating the exam results published in August.  It has been necessary to continue with some services and utilities to the site.

The administrators have instructed agents to prepare a full property report for marketing the freehold of the property for sale.  Chattel agents are also managing the sale and disposal of assets.  There has been some interest expressed.

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