Live updates

Free school's headteacher arrested in fraud case

The founder and principal of one of the Government's flagship free schools has been arrested by police investigating an alleged fraud.

David Cameron meeting headteacher Sajid Raza on a visit to Kings Science Academy, Bradford, in 2012. Credit: PA

West Yorkshire Police confirmed a 41-year-old man has been arrested in connection with their investigation into the Kings Science Academy in Bradford, which was visited by the Prime Minister in 2012.

The force has not named the arrested man but he is understood to be Sajid Raza, who set up the school in 2011.

He has been questioned in relation to suspected fraud offences at the free school and has now been released on bail, pending further enquiries.

Police are looking into the mismanagement of more than £86,000 of public money at the academy.

Advertisement

Government 'acted as soon as it received allegations'

The Department for Education has defended its free schools initiative following the arrest of a man in connection with alleged fraud at Kings Science Academy in Bradford, one of its flagship free schools.

A spokesman said the "vast majority" of free schools are performing well and "all free schools are held to rigorous account", adding that the department acted as soon as it received allegations of wrongdoing at the academy.

The department acted as soon as it received allegations of wrongdoing at Kings Science Academy.

We formally investigated and referred the case to Action Fraud. This resulted in a police investigation which is ongoing. Separately we are recovering appropriate funds.

All free schools are held to rigorous account. The vast majority are performing well with three-quarters rated good or outstanding. But where there is failure we will not hesitate to intervene.

– Department for Education spokesman

School had 'serious failings' in financial management

Kings Science Academy, where a man was arrested today in connection with alleged fraud at the free school, was last year found to have claimed tens of thousands of pounds in public money which was not used for its intended purposes amid claims of financial irregularities.

David Cameron meeting headteacher Sajid Raza on a visit to Kings Science Academy, Bradford, in 2012. Credit: PA

The flagship free school in Bradford, which was visited by David Cameron in 2012, was found by an Education Funding Agency (EFA) investigation to have "serious failings" in its financial management.

The academy was one of the first free schools to open in September 2011. It was set up by its current principal Sajid Raza and was praised by the prime minister on his visit.

  1. Calendar

Man bailed over fraud investigation at Bradford school

The Kings Science Academy has been under scrutiny for financial practices

The founder and principal of a flagship free school in Bradford has been arrested by police investigating an alleged fraud.

West Yorkshire Police confirmed a 41-year-old man has been arrested in connection with their investigation into the Kings Science Academy in Bradford, which was visited by the Prime Minister in 2012.

The force has not named the arrested man but he is understood to be Sajid Raza, who set up the school in 2011. **He's been questioned in relation to suspected fraud offences at the free school and has now been released on bail, pending further enquiries.

Police are looking into the mismanagement of more than £86,000 of public money there.

Advertisement

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. 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.

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. 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.

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 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
Load more updates