THE DEPARTMENT for Education has insisted an investigation has shown there was no chairman of governors in place at the scandal-hit Kings Science Academy in its first year.
It follows calls by a Bradford MP for Education Secretary Nicky Morgan to make a statement over why the free school had repeatedly said a leading Conservative had been its chairman.
Parliamentary early day motions put down by Bradford East’s David Ward said that Alan Lewis had been referred to as the school’s chairman of governors on the Kings’s website, in its prospectus, on the Conservative Party website, in an email from the school to the DfE, in a draft of a DfE investigation report and in an application to open another Kings school in Sheffield.
Mr Lewis, who was appointed vice chairman of the Conservative Party for business by Prime Minister David Cameron, has consistently denied ever being the chairman of governors. His spokesman said records at Companies House show he has never been a director of the trust which runs Kings and therefore cannot have been chairman.
Mr Ward’s motion has called for an independent inquiry to examine events at the school. The DfE has not responded this. However, a spokeswoman said: “The DfE was explicitly informed by Kings Science Academy that Alan Lewis took over as chair from October 1 2011. We learnt in October 2012 that we had been misinformed.
“An investigation by the Education Funding Agency later confirmed there had been no chair in place for the first year of the school’s operation.”
She said that following this the DfE urgently required the school to deal with its management failings and was confident it was doing so. The free school has been built on land belonging to Mr Lewis’s company in a deal worth around £295,000-a-year in rent over a 20 year lease.
The Yorkshire Post has previously revealed that two separate DfE reports into the school give conflicting versions of events as to whether there was a chairman of governors.
A DfE review of financial management and governance in late 2012 found there had been no chairman in place at the school.
However, an internal audit investigation dated May 2013 says it understood there had been a chair of governors in the first year.
But a clarification on the DfE’s website now says the report should have said they had previously thought there was a chairman in place.