Uncertainty surrounds Alfreton skills centre amid flurry of complaints

The Genesis Academy was based at the Genesis Business Centre on King Street in Alfreton, as a separate enterprise from other businesses on site.
The Genesis Academy was based at the Genesis Business Centre on King Street in Alfreton, as a separate enterprise from other businesses on site.

Former students of an education and skills centre in Alfreton have been left with unanswered complaints amid fears the business has gone into administration.

An online petition was set up last month by two former trainee teaching assistants calling for an investigation into the Genesis Academy, on King Street — but the problems may run much deeper.

Former trainee teaching assistant Ben Shinfield alleges that he never received his qualification from the Genesis Academy in Alfreton despite completing the course.

Former trainee teaching assistant Ben Shinfield alleges that he never received his qualification from the Genesis Academy in Alfreton despite completing the course.

Ben Shinfield, 27, and Jack Bales, 22, were left waiting more than 18 months for qualification certificates which would allow them to work in their chosen profession, with no explanation for the delay.

Ben said: “I was told it would be a couple of months before I got the certificates. That passed, I chased it up and then kept getting told that it would be sorted.

“I was unemployed when I first took the course, and still am. I thought it would be good to develop those skills, and having been through school with ADHD myself, I wanted to share the benefit of that experience with young people going through it now.”

Jack said: “I originally signed up to do a computer game design apprenticeship at the academy. When I got there I was told it wasn’t running, but I could do the teaching assistant course instead.

“I’ve been turned down for about 15 teaching assistant jobs since I finished the course, just because I didn’t have the proof I needed. I currently work in a food factory.”

Since the petition appeared on Facebook, other former students have been sharing similarly bad experiences with the academy, which ran free adult skills courses alongside provision for secondary-age students.

While there has been much speculation about funding sources for adult courses, it is understood the academy had contracts with local schools to take on students judged to need education pathways outside of mainstream settings.

In response to the complaints, a representative for the academy released a statement to the Spotted Alfreton 2 page on Facebook, having first told the administrators of the page the petitioners were lying.

It said: “We are sorry to read any individual complaints from previous users, and take complaints or constructive criticism seriously with a view to improving our services and addressing individual issues.”

In private correspondence, an academy director offered to resolve the issue with Ben and Jack in person, but gave no further explanation.

The academy’s listed directors, Jared Holmes and Luke Whiting, have not responded to requests for comment.

However, a source close to the business told the Derbyshire Times the academy went into administration weeks ago and at least one director has left the country.

According to the business’s Companies House listing, its accounts were not filed by the due date of July 31.

The academy’s website no longer functions. The most recent post on its Facebook page, on August 2, said: “We are moving premises from September 2019. We will contact all schools and students over the summer period to inform you of our new location.”

On the same day, a post warned that another business ‘Genesis Academy East Midlands’ had been misrepresenting itself as the Alfreton organisation.