Fifty-year-old charity the Advisory Centre for Education closes after loss of central grant

But a community interest company has risen from the ashes to replicate some of its services - co-founder Chris East says it hopes to advise as many parents as possible

Chris East
Chris East

A 52-year-old education advice charity closed on Friday after losing £500,000 of government funding.

The Advisory Centre for Education shut down after it failed to attract funding to replace a £500,000 Department for Education grant that expired in April 2011.

The charity has gradually been slimming down its workforce of 25 since losing the grant and had just four employees by the time it closed.

Founded in 1960, ACE helped parents to navigate the complex changing landscape of education law surrounding exclusion, admissions and special educational needs.

Its telephone advice service took up to 14,000 calls a year from parents who needed specialist support. The charity also campaigned on such issues as the banning of corporal punishment.

The four remaining employees have formed a new community interest company called ACE Education Advice and Training, which will replicate many of the functions of the charity. It will provide online advice to parents and downloadable materials on education issues.

Parents can also write to the new company but, initially, it will have only enough resources to contact those parents in the greatest need. It will also provide training and advice to educational professionals such as head teachers and local authorities.

"There are people with complex needs out there, and parents came to us when they had nowhere else to go, so I think it was short-sighted of the government to end funding," said Chris East, co-founder of the CIC. "We hope to get back to a place where we can advise as many parents as possible."

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