Leading educationalist Peter Lampl says city academies are twice as expensive to build as comprehensive schools.

The government’s city academy programme, designed to provide new state-of-the-art secondary schools, has been slammed by an education expert as a waste of public money.

The government has so far spent £42m on building 17 academies, costing on average £25m. Millionaire philanthropist Sir Peter Lampl, writing in today’s (Monday's) Education Guardian, criticised the cost-effectiveness of the scheme, which is more than twice as expensive as building standard comprehensives.

Lampl doubted the wisdom of channelling such huge sums of money into a project that has so far achieved ‘mixed results’, and where the sponsors who own the schools often have little experience in education. He added: ‘The average £25m cost for each school excludes land costs, which in many cases are as much again’.

The government aims to have 200 academies open or under construction by 2010, fuelling its drive to transform failing secondary schools. Sponsors contributing £2m towards starting costs can appoint most governors and influence the direction of schools. The remainder of costs are funded by public taxes.