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DfE publishes scandal-hit free school bid... 8 years after it opened

Delay in publishing application by controversial free school fuels call for greater transparency

Sajid Hussain Raza and David Cameron in 2012

Delay in publishing application by controversial free school fuels call for greater transparency

The government is facing questions over why it has only just published the application document from a scandal-hit free school – almost eight years after it opened.

A heavily redacted form from the Kings Science Academy in Bradford, has been published by the Department for Education this afternoon.

The National Education Union’s joint general secretary Kevin Courtney has questions why it has taken the DfE so long to publish it.

The Kings Science Academy, which was one of the first free schools in the country when it opened in 2011, became engulfed in a fraud scandal two years later.

Its founding principal Sajid Hussain Raza was jailed for five years in 2016 for defrauding the Department for Education of thousands of pounds from government grants.

Former academy staff members Daud Khan and Shabana Hussain were sentenced to 14 months and six months respectively.

The school was rebrokered after the fraud scandal broke and is now Dixons Kings Academy, part of the Dixons Academies trust in Bradford.

The application form for Kings Science Academy, published today by the DfE, outlines the original bidders' plans for small-sized academies with a “focus on both character development and academia".

The bid document says the school intends to open in September 2011, and invites then education secretary Michael Gove or the Prime Minister to open their first school.

The school did open in 2011 and was visited and praised by former PM David Cameron in March 2012.

Mr Courtney said: “It shows how swayed they were by the original application that David Cameron did go to visit the school, and yet it went on to collapse.

“It shows too how weak the application process was and how false the idea of openness around free schools is when the Kings Science Academy application form is only being published now seven years after the school opened and two years after the headteacher was jailed.”

The DfE declined to state why the Kings Science Academy document has only been published now.

Instead, it provided Tes with a statement about "its free school transparency publications".

A spokesman said: “The number of free schools that fail to meet the required standards represents a tiny fraction of the sector – a stark contrast to the previous local authority-led system – but we always act quickly to tackle underperformance and build the capability of trusts to drive further improvements.”

 

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