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Bexley Academy boss hits back after Foster's designs condemned

The chief executive of Norman Foster's business academy in Bexley has hit back angrily at claims by the head of the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust (SAAT) that it should never have been built.

Furious Sam Price branded the comments from trust boss Cyril Taylor about the suitability of the 2004 Stirling-shortlisted academy building 'completely uninformed' and 'bemusing'.

In the article - published in today's Guardian ( http://education.guardian.co.uk/schools/story/0,,1703556,00.html) - Taylor mauls the design of the school because of its three-walled classrooms, open balconies and glass facades.

He also says the SAAT, which is charged with delivering the new academy programme, has demanded that the school 'fill in' a number of walls to help the staff teach.

However, speaking to the AJ this morning, school chief executive Price said the criticisms were ill-founded and damaging to pupil morale.

She said: 'As far as I know Taylor has never visited the academy, and the SAAT have had nothing to do with Bexley.

'So how he can make comments about our academy is beyond me.'

Price admits the school has added a few partitions, but maintains that it was designed to be flexible and that the changes were asked for by the new headteacher and not, as is implied, by the SAAT.

She added: 'We absolutely love our building and we are not filling in the open sides. We have never had any problems with the balconies either, such as children launching themselves off them.'

According to the article, if Taylor gets his way, Bexley could be the last of the 'glass palace' academies.

Taylor wants the next tranche of specialist schools to go out to developers who can take on 20 schools based on three or four standard designs.

by Richard Waite

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