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Academy chain to rebrand scandal-hit free school

A scandal-hit free school that was once endorsed by the prime minister is to be taken over by an academy chain and will be rebranded with a new name, it has emerged.

The government reported Kings Science Academy in Bradford to the police last year over allegations of tens of thousands of pounds of misspent taxpayers’ money.

The free school’s former headteacher and founder Sajid Raza was sacked this summer and remains on police bail following his arrest on suspicion of fraud in January.

Now governors at the secondary have revealed that it is to join the Dixons academy chain in the new year. Dixons, which already operates six other academies in the West Yorkshire city, hopes to draw a line under Kings Science Academy’s recent problems.

Dixons’ executive principal Nick Weller said: “I think the school needs a new identity and there will be a name change. It needs to move on from the past.”

Governors at the troubled school, which David Cameron visited in 2012, said they voted unanimously for the take-over following a recommendation by the Department for Education.

“The governing body believes this is the best long-term solution for the students of Kings Science Academy,” they said in a statement.

The free school is being run by an interim executive principal, Jane Tiller, who will stay until the end of December.

Dixons expects to receive government funding for the take-over consisting off about £20,000 to cover legal fees, and £30,000-40,000 to rebrand the school, but this has yet to be confirmed by the Department for Education.  

“The priority will be to bring stability to the school and to improve students’ progress,” Mr Weller said.

“Despite its recent problems, Kings has many strengths, with highly committed and aspirational students, staff and parents. Since Easter Mrs Tiller has done an excellent job and we aim to pick up on this work when her contract ends at Christmas.”

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