Our thanks to Retired Hack for this latest update on former CEO of Isle of Wight council, Steve Beynon. Ed
Today OnTheWight can reveal the answer to one of the Island’s most enduring mysteries, something which has kept inquiring minds awake at night for well-nigh a year now.
It’s right up there with “why do we need a second mortgage to cross the Solent?” and “who on earth designed Coppins Bridge and left it like that?”.
It’s this. Whatever happened to Steve Beynon?
Steve, you’ll recall, left his post as chief executive at County Hall last spring with quite a few unanswered questions ringing in his ears about the state into which our schools had descended on his watch.
No sooner were the May elections out of the way than local Conservatives – first MP Andrew Turner and then council education spokesman Chris Whitehouse – turned their guns on him, demanding answers surrounding a chaotic schools reorganisation programme, plunging exam results, and a cascade into special measures of school after school, leading the government to insist that outside help – from Hampshire County Council – be brought in.
No time for gardening
The erstwhile chief, however, wasn’t in the business of answering questions. Nor was he inclined to sit back and enjoy his substantial local authority pension, topped up with a controversial redundancy payment.
Instead, he was busy setting up a consultancy firm, apEynon, in the apparent hope of selling himself as a “strong strategic leader with proven track record of addressing under-performance” amongst other things.
Then he wrote to an Islander bemoaning various ways in which, in his opinion, he was being unfairly blamed. But for months, it looked as if apEynon’s list of clients could be counted on the fingers of no hands.
That all changed, we can reveal, following the recent sudden departure of the head teacher of a primary school just off the M25 after Ofsted put it in special measures.
Steve Beynon is now educating Essex.
Made of the stuff of superheroes?
When staff returned to Waltham Holy Cross Junior School, at Waltham Abbey, at the start of this half term (24th Feb) they found that Essex County Council had put in place a four-strong management team from a company called Lilac Sky Schools. LSS runs an Academy Trust, but also specialises in management contracts of the type Steve is involved in.
Hit the “Vacancies” tab on their website, as perhaps Steve did, and you’re greeted by a banner reading “only Superheroes need apply”, illustrated by a Superman graphic. For a man like Steve it must have been a no-brainer.
Part of the hit squad
The LSS hit squad is led by an executive head teacher, and includes “Mr Steve Beynon who is a former Primary Head”.
The Waltham Holy Cross Website features Steve’s mugshot – he still has the beard – along with some ambitious LSS pledges, including getting the school out of special measures within 15 months. Steve’s role is believed to include “curriculum matters”.
Did LSS ask for an IWC reference?
It is many years since Steve Beynon was “a Primary Head”.
His current LinkedIn page confirms a career away from the classroom since at least 1995, when he began a two-year stint – for Essex County Council – as a “principal adviser”.
So we think it legitimate to enquire of LSS, and Essex County Council, whether a reference was sought and received from his most recent employer, the Isle of Wight Council. It was here, after all, where Steve’s seven-year stint, first as director of education and then as chief executive with director responsibility for education, ended with Ofsted identifying the Island as Britain’s very worst area on a measure of children attending “good” schools.
We will update with their response.