Downfall of school that ticked all the right boxes

WHEN IT first opened just under five years ago the Kings Science Academy was one of the flagship projects of the new coalition Government's education reforms.

Sajid Hussain Raza.

In its first year the free school in Bradford was visited by the then Prime Minister David Cameron who sent a signed note to the head Sajid Hussain Raza saying how impressed he had been.

Its opening was hailed in the national media as the closest thing to Mr Cameron’s vision of what a free school should be.

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Free schools were to be new state funded projects started by teachers, parents, charities or faith organisations.

Former education secretary Michael Gove said they would give all children access to the kind of education that currently only the rich could afford through private schools or expensive houses.

From the outset the Kings Science Academy ticked all the policy’s boxes. Sajid Hussain Raza, its founder and principal, was a Bradford-born Oxford graduate committed to improving the life chances of children growing up in his home city.

The school promised an academic education for inner city pupils. Its motto Mores et Scientia is Latin for character and knowledge.

But if the Kings Science Academy was once seen as a flagship of the free schools movement it soon become synonymous with the problems being faced by the policy.

The first public sign of problems came early in 2013 when the school had its first Ofsted inspection and was found to require improvement. In the Autumn of the same year the Department for Education published a report from its own audit investigation into the school’s finances.

A heavily redacted version of the report revealed that £10,800 of rent had been claimed by the school with invoices that had been fabricated, and more than £86,000 of a start-up grant had been misspent. The findings led to an investigation by West Yorkshire Police.