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Last Updated: Thursday, 25 March, 2004, 06:39 GMT
Madejski to help transform school
John Madejski
Mr Madejski has put forward 2m to help create the new academy
A millionaire football club chairman has agreed to help transform a failing school into a top academy.

A total of 10m is to be invested to turn Thamesbridge College in Reading, Berkshire, into the first specialist academy in the county.

It has been announced that 2m of that funding will come from chairman of Reading Football Club John Madejski.

Education chiefs hope the public-private partnership will see a new sports college opened by 2005.

Failing school

Mr Madejski, who was approached by the government to support the scheme, told the BBC: "By giving children somewhere nice to attend, I think it will cut down truancy, I think it will attract better teachers to some of these areas that perhaps are not as good as other areas and I think it's a worthwhile experiment."

The National Union of Teachers said staff at the Northumberland Avenue college were anxious over their future.

But Reading Borough Council said creating a new academy was the best way forward.

Councillor Jo Lovelock said: "Rather than just saying that we'll throw in the towel...we are saying we are going give our best shot at developing something that will work for these young people and will deliver for them."

The college has faced an uncertain future since being declared a failing school in 1998, when it was Ashmead Secondary Modern School.

Its name was changed in 2000 when it was taken off special measures but it has continued to struggle ever since.

Under the government's specialist academy scheme, private sponsors put up a share of the start-up costs and run the academies, while the state pays the ongoing costs.

Academy to replace failing school
23 Mar 04  |  Berkshire


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