High Court Judge places 3aaa into compulsory liquidation

Former apprenticeship provider Aspire Achieve Advance has been placed into compulsory liquidation, after a High Court Judge accepted a winding up petition brought before the court earlier today.

The directors of the company, better known as 3aaa, submitted a winding up petition against itself last week. It follows the training provider closing its doors earlier this month and saying it was going into administration.

Over 500 staff from 34 sites across England lost their jobs and around 4,500 apprentices had their training programmes affected.

The Derby Telegraph has reported that the official receiver, Anthony Hannon, has been appointed as liquidator. He now has the responsibility to establish what the company owes, and what assets 3aaa has to enable it to pay creditors.

The government’s Redundancy Payment Service has started to engage with affected staff regarding redundancy payments, according to the Derby Telegraph.

3aaa will aim to be wound up in the quickest time possible so that further costs can be avoided.

The training provider received over £31 million in government funding last year and had the largest allocation for non-levy apprenticeships – standing at nearly £22 million.

The Department for Education launched a second investigation into the company earlier this year following claims by a whistle-blower which prompted Ofsted to declare its inspection of the formerly ‘outstanding’ 3aaa in June “incomplete”.

The first ESFA investigation, carried out by auditing firm KPMG in 2016, found dozens of success rate “overclaims”.

Following a meeting with the ESFA on October 10 this month, the agency decided not to provide any more public money to the company and withdrew its contracts.

The findings of the new investigation, which have so far not been shared, have been passed on to the police through Action Fraud.

Derbyshire Constabulary is leading on enquiries.

3aaa was co-founded by Peter Marples and Di McEvoy-Robinson in 2008. They both resigned from the company in early September.

Mr Marples has since taken down his LinkedIn and Facebook pages last week. He has also resigned from his position as chair of the Spencer Academies Trust.

Despite withdrawing 3aaa’s funding, the DfE has agreed to pay the wages of around 40 affected staff until the end of October, to help with the transfer of the company’s apprentices to new training providers.