Free school 'mismanaged' funds

A flagship Government free school has mismanaged £86,335 of public money, according to a report today by the Education Funding Agency.

Government gave 'false information' on free schools

Labour's shadow education minister Baroness Jones has accused the Government of misleading parliament over the performance of its free schools project.

Shadow education minister Baroness Jones has accused the Conservatives of 'misleading' parliament over Free Schools.
Shadow education minister Baroness Jones has accused the Conservatives of 'misleading' parliament over Free Schools. Credit: PA

Baroness Jones said her Tory counterpart Lord Nash should return to parliament "at the earliest opportunity" to correct what she said was "false information" he gave earlier this month that claimed free schools were performing better than other schools in the state sector, The Guardian reported.

A Department for Education spokeswoman said that Lord Nash had been referring only to inspections under Ofsted's more rigorous inspection process, introduced last year.

The charge follows a series of setbacks for the Government's flagship programme this month, including the mismanagement of funds at a high-profile free school in Bradford and the branding of a Derby free school as "dysfunctional" by Oftsed.

Read: Public poll 'backs Clegg' over qualified teachers at free schools

Public poll 'backs Clegg' over free schools

Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has the backing of the public over his free schools views, according to a new poll.
Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg has the backing of the public over his free schools views, according to a new poll. Credit: David Cheskin/PA Wire/Press Association Images

More than four fifths of the public (81%) agree with Nick Clegg that free schools should employ qualified teachers, according to a new poll.

Only a fifth (21%) felt that free schools should not have to follow the national curriculum, the survey for Channel 4 News found.

The programme revealed the poll results as it emerged that another free school, in Bradford, is in trouble.

While 81% of people agreed that it should be compulsory for free schools to employ qualified teachers, three quarters (75%) agreed that qualifications do not necessarily guarantee a good standard of teaching.

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Report: Free School 'run like family business'

The Kings Science Academy was being run like a family business, according to interviewees on Newsnight.

The Kings Science Academy was run 'like a family business' according to Newsnight interviewees
The Kings Science Academy was run 'like a family business' according to Newsnight interviewees Credit: Kings Science Academy

The Education Funding Agency draft report notes that Headteacher Sajid Raza employed many of his own family members at the school. His brother was on the board of governors, his sister was a senior teacher, his wife worked there and his father drove the school bus.

The report does not say whether or not the family members were appointed through the usual processes.

Free School acknowledges 'poor governance'

A spokesman for Kings Science Academy told Newsnight the school acknowledges it had suffered from "poor governance issues".

The matters which you raise relate to issues regarding finance and governance two years ago during the Academy set-up process.

We acknowledge there were poor governance issues during the start-up due to the pace of setting up the new school in two/three months.

These have since been addressed with the support of external auditors and accountants. All payments received from DfE have been fully accounted for by the Academy, and any sums incorrectly claimed have been repaid.

– Kings Science Academy spokesman

Labour 'deeply concerned' by Free School failing

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt described the case at King's Science Academy as the latest "deeply concerning" episode in a "string of failings" in the Government's Free School programme.

Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt described the King's Science Academy case 'deeply concerning'
Shadow education secretary Tristram Hunt described the King's Science Academy case 'deeply concerning' Credit: PA

"Labour has long warned of the dangers that a lack of financial oversight and allowing unqualified teachers to teach in our classrooms on a permanent basis would cause," he said.

"The case of KSA Free School further exposes David Cameron's weakness on school standards. It proves yet again that it is not possible for thousands of schools to be run directly from Whitehall and is further proof that this out-of-touch Government has no plan to deliver for all children."

Flagship free school 'mismanaged' £86k state funds

A flagship Government free school has mismanaged £86,335 of public money, according to a report today by the Education Funding Agency.

Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to Kings Science Academy, Bradford, last year.
Prime Minister David Cameron on a visit to Kings Science Academy, Bradford, last year. Credit: PA

King's Science Academy in Bradford, one of the Government first free schools to open in 2011, was given a £182,933 grant, but £86,335 of that money has not been used for its "intended purposes".

The Department for Education said that the police were informed of the allegations in April and no action was taken.

The school was issued with a warning notice in May and has since implemented an action plan to restructure its governing body, appoint an experienced finance director, overhaul its financial management systems, recruit new governors and pay back the money they owe.

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