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 progress report to 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. 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. 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.
Immediately following their appointment the administrators secured the site. Although the school was not trading the head mistress was kept on by the administrators to help with the orderly conclusion of the administration of former pupils and maintain a presence on site to ensure the property and other tangible assets were not at risk. It has been necessary to continue with some services and utilities to the site.
Chattel agents, Lambert Smith Hampton have managed the sale and disposal of assets. There was a lot of interest generated from organised viewings of the assets prior to an online auction. A majority of the items sold at auction, realising a higher than anticipated value. Items not sold were donated to local charities.
There are a number of book debts outstanding. These are related to unpaid fees. Due to the age and complexity of many of these debts it is anticipated the process of recovery will be time consuming. As such we have instructed Portland Legal Debt Collection, an associated company, specialising in debt collection, to assist with this matter.
The administrators instructed agents, Vail Williams to prepare a full property report for marketing the freehold of the property for sale. Marketing commenced, previous interested parties were contacted as well as the agents database of clients. A number of successful open days have been conducted and we have now invited interested parties to make their offers.
We anticipate that all creditors will be paid in full together with statutory interest.