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LONDON SCHOOL TO BUILD LOW-COST STAFF HOMES

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A London secondary school is planning to build its own low-rent housing development in an attempt to attract new st...
A London secondary school is planning to build its own low-rent housing development in an attempt to attract new staff and keep existing teachers, reported The Observer (p5).

The Bexley Business Academy, south east London, has already promised a series of innovations to motivate pupils, promising to scrap the national curriculum for one day a week and to install its own mini-stock exchange. But recruiting staff in London is so difficult the school has decided to build its own key-worker accommodation.

David Garrard, a property millionaire who is the main backer of the state-owned academy, hopes to offer at least 30 homes to teachers and support staff. They could even be built on the site of the school, which is still under construction - a return to the Victorian idea that the schoolmaster should have his house next to the classrooms.

Some London boroughs have already provided cheap flats for a range of key workers, but this is the first time an individual state school has taken the step.

Professor John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys, said: 'This takes us back to the public sector before Thatcher, an era when nurses lived in hostels and police lived in section houses. It makes sense for the public sector to do this rather than force people on to the open market'.

Mr Garrard has put more than£2m of his own money into the school, designed by architect Norman Foster. 'The key is to ensure that nobody is making money out of key workers', he said.

Thousands of prefabricated homes for nurses, teachers and police officers are also to be built on public land, housing, planning and regeneration minister Lord Falconer announced last week. In an interview with The Observer (Business, p16) he explains the challenge of meeting the runaway housing crisis and of the need to restore people's confidence, economically and socially, in the planning system.

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