pound;38m for dearest school in country

10th February 2006 at 00:00
Haberdashers' Aske's Knights academy in Kent will cost more than pound;38 million to build, making it the most expensive school in the country.

Ministers have signed off a funding package for the new building, expected to cater for 1,300 pupils and due to be completed in May 2007. This is almost three times that devoted to other new state schools.

Haberdashers' Livery Company, the private sponsor running the academy, which is currently based in temporary buildings adjoining the site, is contributing only pound;295,500 to the overall costs. The Government's original prospectus said that "sponsors should pay 20 per cent towards the costs of new academies".

The Government has already said that it wants to scale back the cost of future academies following claims from teaching unions that they are a waste of money and in some cases unfit for pupils' needs.

This week Sir Cyril Taylor, chairman of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust, which runs the programme on behalf of the Department for Education and Skills, promised that no more "glass palaces" will be built.

In an interview in The Guardian, he criticised the pound;31m Bexley business academy, which was designed by Lord Foster but proved unpopular with teachers because it was too hot in the summer and freezing during winter.

West London academy, Ealing, has spent some pound;37m on building work. At City of London academy, south London, ministers originally agreed a pound;32m funding package, although final estimates were reportedly nearer Pounds 33.7m.

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