Monday, June 12, 2006

The problems at St Paul's

Back in May, we mentioned an article in the News Shopper about the funding crisis at St Paul's Academy. We're sad to say that the crisis continues, but this is hardly a surprise given the document we've seen about the foundation upon which the project was started.

As some may know, "City Academies" are one of the Government's flagship policies. The scheme is a Public-Private-Partnership type scheme where individuals or groups can sponsor a new school build with a donation of £2m (whether this money also buys you a peerage remains to be seen).

In the case of St Paul's Academy, the Archdiocese of Southwark is the sponsor. It agreed to pay £2m toward the Academy whilst the Department for Education and Skills (DfES) would pay the other £29.5m. However, according to this document released under the Freedom of Information Act, the Archdiocese was "not in a position to meet this [£2m] donation in full". We've found out that the Archdiocese has only actually provided £200,000, and Greenwich Council agreed to pay the outstanding £1.8m upon the sale of the original St Paul's Comprehensive site in 2007.

Just to clarify, the St Paul's Academy project began on the basis that £1.8m of the completion cost would not be available until after completion. The Council says that they're in the hands of the DfES, but from what we can tell they may in fact be the ones responsible for the shortfall in funds.


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