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Report raises concerns over cost of academies

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A new report has praised the improving exam records of academy schools, but sounded alarm bells

A new report has praised the improving exam records of academy schools, but sounded alarm bells over the fact that the majority of new academies came in at least £3 million over budget.

The report by the Commons Public Accounts Committee said that 17 of the first 26 new academies had cost £3.2 million per school ‘more than expected’.

It concluded: ‘Some of these overruns occurred because cost control was not sufficiently robust.

‘The department should disseminate lessons learnt in project management from the early academy projects, such as cost benchmarks, to the people running projects to build new academies’.

The average cost of an academy is around £27 million compared with secondary schools, which come in at around £20 million-£22 million.

The report also found that although the ‘literacy and numeracy of academy pupils has been rising,’ results were still at only ‘half the level of attainment in all secondary schools’.

In 2006, 22 per cent of pupils in academies achieved five or more A*-C grades including English and Maths, compared with 45 per cent in all schools.

Foster + Partners’ Business Academy in Bexley, which opened in 2002, was the first academy and by September 2007 there will be 83 providing secondary education across the UK.

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