Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Academy That Demolished a New Gym to Build ... Another One; [Pounds Sterling]1m SPORTS HALL BUILT WITH LOTTERY FUNDS IS SACRIFICED TO AVOID PAYING VAT

Newspaper article The Evening Standard (London, England)

The Academy That Demolished a New Gym to Build ... Another One; [Pounds Sterling]1m SPORTS HALL BUILT WITH LOTTERY FUNDS IS SACRIFICED TO AVOID PAYING VAT

Article excerpt

Byline: ROBERT MENDICK;DOMINIC HAYES

THE Government's flagship city academies programme lurched into fresh controversy today.

In a bizarre twist to the political row over academies, the Evening Standard has learned that a new sports hall at a London comprehensive being rebuilt as an academy has been demolished to make way for an identical [pounds sterling]1 million facility - to save VAT.

The strange affair of the construction, destruction and reconstruction of the school sports hall has been called a "scandalous" waste of public money.

A senior source involved in the project admitted the demolition was "crazy".

It has all been done to avoid paying [pounds sterling]4 million VAT. The Lottery-funded sports hall at Malory School in Lewisham was knocked down along with the rest of the school in the summer to make way for a [pounds sterling]25million academy sponsored by the Haberdashers' Company, one of the City livery companies, which runs several leading state and private schools.

Ironically, the new 1,300-pupil school - called Haberdashers' Aske's Knights Academy - will specialise in sporting excellence.

The revelations over the Knights Academy are the latest to dog Tony Blair's favourite schools policy.

The Prime Minister has pledged to build 200 academies at a cost of [pounds sterling]5billion by 2010 in an attempt to improve inner city schooling, with 60 planned for London.

But academies have suffered a series of blows. Yesterday the Labour-dominated Commons Education Select Committee demanded the programme be halted until existing academies show they are improving results enough to justify the huge investment.

The committee's report was published as national league tables of results achieved by 14-year-olds in English, maths and science showed nine of the 11 academies that supplied figures were in the bottom 200 schools in England.

Last week the Standard reported on a new academy planned for Islington which has been criticised by parents as being too big. …

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