Mace raises £5,700 for steel drum band from Wyvil Primary School

19 August 2016 Consultancy.uk

Mace, in a joint effort with developers and other stakeholders, recently celebrated a project milestone at the new Vauxhall Sky Gardens in London for the completion of its exterior. The celebration included a performance by Wyvil Primary School’s steel drum band ‘Wings of Steel’. The firm, as part of its wider community support efforts, raised £5,700 for the school, a part of which has seen the addition of new steel pans for the band.

Four of the major construction firms working on the exterior of the new Vauxhall Sky Gardens development in London – Mace, Fraser Property, YOO Design and Caddick Developments – recently celebrated the completion of the exterior. The new building, situated on 143 to 161 Wandsworth Road in London, is set for completion in 2017. Upon delivery it will offer a mixture of commercial and residential spaces – across an 8 storey tower and 36 storey tower block.

To mark the milestone, the firms celebrated with a number of invited guests, among which the steel drum band from Wyvil Primary School. The school neighbours the new development and is a stakeholder within the wider development. As part of their community activity, Mace sponsored the equipment for the band by raising £5,700 for the school. The raised funds have gone towards the purchase of new steel pans as well as expanding the number of pupils in the band.

Mace raises 5,700 for steel drum band from Wyvil Primary School

Head of School at Wyvil Primary School, Rachel Pereira da Silva, says, “After many years of pan playing, the old steel pans were looking battered and slightly worse for wear. The donation from the Mace project team at Vauxhall Sky Gardens meant that the Wings of Steel band was given a new lease of life with new pans and more members joining. It’s therefore been a fantastic opportunity for the children to show their appreciation and play for the audience at last week’s event.”

Chris Harrison, Mace Project Director at Vauxhall Sky Gardens, comments, “This is a key milestone for us on the project and a chance to thank the team for getting us this far – ahead of programme. It’s also wonderful to have Wings of Steel here to celebrate with us and show off their amazing skills on the steel pans! We have now just nine months to completion so it’s the final push before residents and businesses can move in and enjoy such a fantastic development.”

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Deloitte gagged by Government over academy insolvency

20 March 2019 Consultancy.uk

Big Four firm Deloitte is subject to a so-called gagging clause with relation to its work to close the multi-academy trust WCAT. According to reports from the UK media, the clause prevents Deloitte from saying anything that would “embarrass” the Department for Education.

The UK Government initiated its flagship policy of pushing for the academisation of state schools in 2010. An academy trust is an exempt charity regulated by the Department for Education. The belief of the Conservative-led coalition at the time was that by bringing in an outside source to oversee the financial side of the school – such as a business as a sponsor, or a larger academy chain – the pressure of keeping a school afloat as well as increasing results is lessened, and the existing school body can focus on education standards, whilst the sponsor keeps an eye on the budget.

Since then, the number of children in state-funded schools in England taught in an academy or free school has risen to more than 50%. The incumbent Conservative-led Government has made it a policy to see all schools in England become academies in the next two years. Education Secretary Damian Hinds has cited standards rising faster in many sponsored academies than in similar council-run schools as a reason why state schools should consider the switch.

Deloitte gagged by Government over academy insolvency

However, while the Government remains keen to extoll the supposed economic virtues of becoming an academy, 2017 saw one of its keystone academy trusts collapse into administration. Wakefield City Academies Trust (WCAT) was a multi-academy trust that managed 21 schools across West Yorkshire, South Yorkshire, and East Yorkshire. The board of the trust of seven secondary and 14 primary schools announced that, just days into the new school term, it did not have “the capacity to facilitate the rapid improvement our academies need and our students deserve”. Deloitte was installed to oversee the insolvency process.

Over the course of the following year, Deloitte was paid £198,570 to support the Department for Education (DfE) for 12 months to shut WCAT, according to a freedom of information request obtained by Schools Week. The department needed financial and insolvency expertise to put the trust into insolvency and transfer its schools to other trusts, a process which concluded in November 2018. However, in order to undertake that work, Deloitte was required to agree to a contract banning it from saying anything that would “embarrass” the Government or any other crown bodies, including the office of the Prime Minister.

This is of particular interest, as it has also emerged that the DfE gave the beleaguered academy trust £500,000 in 2015, despite serious concerns about its finances. Education news platform Schools Week found that at the time, then-Education Secretary Nicky Morgan had announced WCAT as one of five “outstanding” sponsors to share in £5 million under the government’s Northern Powerhouse scheme. This occurred despite Government officials' awareness of concerns at the trust, including potential irregular payments and poor financial management and governance.

A copy of Deloitte’s contract to oversee the winding up of WCAT reportedly included a clause preventing the Big Four firm from distributing facts which could “cause, permit, contribute or is in any way connected to material adverse publicity” relating to the DfE. Under the header “publicity, media and official enquiries”, the contract stated that it could not bring the DfE into “disrepute by engaging in any act or omission which is reasonably likely to diminish the trust” which the public has in the department.

In 2018, UK broadsheet The Times revealed that about 40 charities and 300 companies similarly leveraged such “gagging clauses” in Government contracts, totalling £25 billion. The DfE has since told the press that it puts publicity clauses in place to “protect commercially sensitive information”, and that these do not stop organisations from fairly criticising government departments or policies. While this was echoed by Theresa May, however, the Prime Minister also promised to review the wording in such contracts – something which suggests that the gagging details may be more comprehensive than the DfE might admit.

Related: Quantuma appointed administrator for Manor House School.