ONE of the Government’s first free schools has been found to require improvement again in its latest Ofsted inspection published on the same day that David Cameron vowed to turn schools stuck in this category into academies.
A report says that improvements are now being made at what was the Kings Science Academy, in Bradford, but that not enough was done in the first 12 months after its original critical inspection in 2013.
The school, which has been renamed Dixons Kings Academy after joining the Dixons academy chain, has been found to require improvement in all key inspection areas: leadership and management; behaviour and safety of pupils, quality of teaching and achievement of pupils.
The latest report was published this morning as the Prime Minister was about to announce plans for schools which remain in requires improvement category to be turned into academies.
The former Kings Science Academy was originally placed in this category in 2013 in a report which called for an external review of governance and suggested the school needed to improve leadership and management.
At the time the free school’s then principal Sajid Raza said that Ofsted “found it very difficult to understand the school’s education methods.”
Later that year the school became engulfed in financial scandal after a Department for Education audit investigation report was leaked. It contained allegations that the school had fabricated invoices to claim public money.
The matter was passed to West Yorkshire Police for criminal investigation but only after the DfE report was leaked in October 2013. At the time the school said there had been no misappropriation of funds and all expenditure had been academy related.
Mr Raza has since been arrested over allegations of fraud and is currently on bail. He was also dismissed following a disciplinary investigation last year. The school said at the time that this decision was not linked to the police investigation at the school.
This year it has joined the Dixons Academies Trust which runs a group of academies and free schools in the city.
Ofsted’s new report into the school says: “Actions taken to address the areas for improvement identified in the previous inspection are relatively recent. Too little was done to address the areas for improvement robustly in the twelve months following that inspection.”
It said that quality of teaching was inconsistent and that quality of marking and feedback was variable.
However it also said leadership at all levels was improving and it praised Jane Tiller who had worked as an executive principal on an interim basis until the end of the year. She was brought into the school following Mr Raza’s dismissal.
It also praised the school’s senior leaders and its chairman of governors John Bowers. It says areas of improvement are now being tackled rigorously.