Disgraced headteacher who used school funds to build 'sex dungeon' left school in 'serious financial difficulty' MP tells education minister

A Sawtry school has been left in "serious financial difficulty" by the actions of a disgraced headteacher who used funds to build a "sex dungeon".

Monday, 11th December 2017, 4:32 pm
Updated Tuesday, 12th December 2017, 12:09 am
Ex Sawtry Headteacher James Stewart arriving at court earlier this year

Tory former minister Shailesh Vara raised the case of Sawtry Village Academy head James Stewart during education questions today, Monday December 11.

The North West Cambridgeshire MP requested Government intervention to help the school with lost funds.

He said: "Sawtry Village Academy in my constituency is in serious financial difficulty, not least because of the activities of its former head which included building a sex dungeon alongside his office for his private use.

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TROUBLED: Sawtry Village Academy

"That head teacher is now in prison, but the financial difficulties for the school remain.

"Would the minister kindly agree to meet with me and representatives of the school to discuss the way forward?"

Education minister Nick Gibb said: "I'd be very happy to meet him to discuss the financial and economic future of that school."

Stewart, 72, was executive principal at Sawtry Village Academy until 2014 when the Department for Education launched an investigation into his running of the school.

TROUBLED: Sawtry Village Academy

Following a DfE investigation and subsequent police investigation Stewart was jailed for four years in October for misconduct and fraud amounting to £100,000.

Cambridgeshire County Council’s children and young persons committee voted in favour of proposals to invest £2million towards redevelopment of Sawtry Village Academy at a meeting last Tuesday.

In September, Sawtry Village Academy launched its New Building Strong Future campaign to put right the crimes of the past following the sentencing of the college’s former headteacher James Stewart and give the Sawtry community the school they deserve.

The money will see the most affected buildings in the school being demolished and replaced by a purpose-built new school building, which will include about 18 classrooms. These plans have already received planning permission.

Sarah Wilson, principal of Sawtry Village Academy, said: “We are delighted by the support the community and the county council has given the school. The decision to contribute £2million towards the first phase of rebuilding the school will have a significant impact on the students and the community now and in the future.

“We still need to refurbish the other buildings in the school to rectify the mistakes of the previous leadership and we are calling on the community to help us present our exceptional circumstances to the decision makers within the Department for Education. However, this is an excellent first step to help us put the past behind us and move forward with optimism and positivity.”