3aaa co-founders still own the company despite resignations

The co-founders of crisis-hit Aspire Achieve Advance have remained as the apprenticeship giant’s majority owners despite resigning as directors, FE Week can reveal.

Peter Marples and Di McEvoy-Robinson, who were the company’s chief executive and main director respectively until last week, had their terminations of directorships confirmed on Companies House this morning.

Since their resignations were announced questions have been asked as to who now actually owns and runs the business, better known as 3aaa.

Despite attempts to distance themselves from the troubled company, which is subject to an ongoing Education and Skills Funding Agency investigation, FE Week can reveal that Mr Marples and Ms McEvoy-Robinson remain major shareholders.

Combined they now own 85 per cent of 3aaa – split evenly between the pair.

The provider’s chair, Derek Mapp, owns 10 per cent and new managing director Richard Irons has 5 per cent. Given their majority control, Mr Marples and Ms McEvoy-Robinson can at any time choose to sell assets or controlling ownership.

A spokesperson for the provider confirmed the ownership details to FE Week today.

The ESFA’s investigation into 3aaa was sparked earlier this year when a whistleblower approached the agency with information about its business.

Owing to this, Ofsted declared its latest inspection of the provider, which was expected to result in another ‘outstanding’ rating, as incomplete in June.

A month later it was revealed that an independent auditor, Alyson Gerner, had been called in by the Department for Education to investigate its own funding agency over their contract management of 3aaa.

The provider was last week suspended from recruiting apprentices but FE Week later revealed that senior employees had been “instructed” to tell its staff to not date any paperwork for “planned enrolments”.

They were also been told not to tell current and prospective employers that the ban has been placed upon it. 3aaa had the largest allocation for non-levy apprenticeships last year at nearly £22 million.

Its overall ESFA allocations totalled more than £31 million. Mr Marples’ wife, Sarah, and Ms McEvoy-Robinson’s husband, Patrick, also resigned as directors at 3aaa today, according to Companies House.