School wanted to expand but is now at heart of scandal

THE KINGS Science Academy had planned to set up two more free schools to open last year, before it became engulfed in a financial scandal, The Yorkshire Post can reveal.

David Cameron visits Kings Science Academy in 2012. Photo Anna Gowthorpe/PA Wire

During its first year the Bradford free school submitted two applications to open schools in the Darnall area of Sheffield and at Milner Fields, north of Bradford.

Neither application, which were sent in in early 2012, was successful.An application document to open a Kings school in Sheffield has now been raised in a Parliamentary early day motion by Bradford East MP David Ward.

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The document, seen by The Yorkshire Post, includes a mission statement said to have been written by Alan Lewis, describing him as “chairman of the Kings Trust.”

It says its vision is to “open schools of a similar profile with a minimum guarantee of at least 30 per cent of free school meal students through our admission policy.

The statement adds: “Our ambition is to achieve results similar to the best independent schools in the country. Our students are given an excellent academic curriculum as well as a character education programme to instill values of motivation, resilience, innovation , citizenship, the spirit of entrepreneurship and leadership.”

The document also highlights successes at the first Kings Science Academy. It said in 2012 it received 703 applications for 160 places and it expected to pass the 1,000 mark in 2013.

Although the Kings Science Academy has now become embroiled in a financial scandal and been highlighted as an example of the lack of Government oversight of the programme it had previously been seen as one of the leading lights in the free school movement. An article in a national newspaper before it opened in 2011 had observed that “Kings Science Academy in Bradford comes closest to David Cameron’s vision of what a free school should be.”

The Prime Minister visited Kings and sent a letter of praise to the school principal at the time Sajid Raza, during the build up to the Bradford West by-election in 2012. The school promised an academic education for inner city Bradford pupils. The school’s motto Mores et Scientia is Latin for character and knowledge. Its principal and founder Mr Raza was a Bradford-born teacher and an Oxford graduate who had been part of the Future Leaders programme. However, Kings has since become synonymous with problems facing the free school policy. A critical Ofsted in 2013 in which the school was judged to require improvement was followed by revelations that whistleblowers had prompted a financial investigation by the Department for Education which uncovered allegations of fraud.

Mr Raza has been arrested and bailed by West Yorkshire Police and has since been dismissed from his post although the school have said that this was not connected to the police investigation.