WIRRAL: Schools forum
Wallasey Town Hall, where Wirral Council meets in normal times
An education company is set to be propped up by two councils after it lost millions of pounds during the pandemic.
Edsential, which runs school holidays clubs and outdoor education centres, is jointly owned by Wirral Council and Cheshire West and Cheshire Council (CWAC).
At today’s meeting of Wirral Council’s Schools Forum, Ian McGrady, Edsential’s managing director, confirmed that the community interest company (CIC) is set to lose £3m across the two financial years the pandemic has impacted on.
Edsential has been able to secure around £1.3m in Covid-19 support grants through government funding.
But this still leaves the company with a £1.7m black hole, which Wirral Council and CWAC are jointly going to plug through a loan which Edsential will need to pay back.
Mr McGrady said this repayment means the company will have to “tighten our belts” and “do things differently”.
However, he was confident that the business was robust and could sell its services to schools across the North West, which it was already starting to do, and even more widely than that to help it raise more money and ensure it can continue to deliver the services schools in Wirral have been used to.
Mr McGrady also discussed the work being done at Edsential’s outdoor education centre in Anglesey and its holiday programmes, with the company’s summer programme supporting more than 4,400 children.
Adrian Whiteley, chair of the Schools Forum, said figures showing how many children Edsential’s work reaches were impressive and that he acknowledged the challenge the company faced due to the ‘Covid crisis’.
Mr Whiteley added that schools across Wirral recognise how important the services Edsential provides are.
Words: George Morgan, Local Democracy Reporter
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