By Dan Moorhouse
Upon opening, The Kings Science Academy, Northside, was lauded as being a near perfect example of how a Free School could be established. Gaining praise from no less than David Cameron, the school was seen to be almost a mirror image of what the Government had in mind for it’s concept of Free Schools.
As has previously been reported, flaws in the management of the school soon emerged. A Department for Education investigation into the running of the school highlighted serious concerns in 2010 and a police investigation was conducted into the financial management of the schools funds.
Last week the Crown Prosecution Service reached a decision to press charges against two further members of staff from Kings Science Academy. In a statement, the reviewing lawyer, Julian Briggs, states:
“The Crown Prosecution Service has been working closely with West Yorkshire Police in connection with this case.
“Having carefully considered all of the evidence presented to us, we have concluded that there is sufficient evidence to charge Daud Khan (former Director of Finance) and Shabana Hussain (former Head of Department) with a range of offences relating to their involvement with the Kings Science Academy, Bradford, and that it is in the public interest to do so.”
Khan and Hussain will attend a hearing at Leeds Magistrate on a date that has yet to be fixed.
These latest charges follow an earlier decision to press charges against the founder of the Academy, Sajid Hussain Raja. Following a lengthy and complex investigation he has been charged with 3 counts of fraud by abuse of position; 3 of false accounting; 2 of obtaining a money transfer through means of deception and one offence of fraud through misrepresentation.
Following the initial investigations into financial affairs at the school, Raja was dismissed by the governing body. Raja maintains his innocence and is determined to clear his name. A statement released by his solicitors states:
“The investigation process has been a difficult period of time for Mr Raza. Now he has been charged, Mr Raza will be working with Rahman Ravelli to try and establish his innocence.”
What now then for Kings Science Academy?
The school has been criticised by Ofsted and HMI inspection reports since it first opened. Issues relating to management in general and the design of the curriculum were raised as being of concern, and a lack of progress was noted by follow up inspections. However it must be noted that the school have now become part of the Dixons Academy Group. This group have a wealth of experience in management of schools in and around Bradford and the shared leadership experience on offer from the Dixons group ought to be of benefit to the school.
David Green, Leader of Bradford Council also hopes for a quick resolution to the issues surrounding the Kings Science Academy, saying:
“For the good of the children attending the school and for the good of the education system in the district, we would hope this can be resolved as quickly as possible to allow the spotlight to fall on education rather than this unfortunate story.”
About Free Schools:
Free schools are public-private educational institutions.
They report directly to the Minister of State for Education, rather than to Local Education Authorities.
A Free School can design it’s own curriculum rather than following the National Curriculum.
Free schools are a key element of the Conservative party manifesto.
Some teaching unions have vehemently opposed the concept of Free Schools.