Fraud at Kings Science Academy
The powerful House of Commons Public Accounts Committee will be investigating the lack of oversight by the Department of Education that created the conditions for fraud at the Kings Science Academy (KSA) in Bradford.
An internal audit at the free school highlighted large sums of missing money and allegations of mismanagement, and possible fraud, including fabricated invoices in order to claim thousands of pounds of public money.
Kings Science Academy was one of the first free schools approved by the Department for Education (DfE), and opened in September 2011, as a science focused secondary school for up to 800 pupils between ages 11 and 16. It moved to a new £10m building in the Lidget Green area last year.
Bradford MP, David Ward met with Rt Hon Margaret Hodge MP, Chair of the House of Commons Public Accounts Committee, earlier this week to discuss the recent revelations that fraud occurred at the Kings Science Academy.
David also raised the possibility of whether the Public Accounts Committee would undertake an investigation into the wider concerns that the DfE lacked fundamental oversight over the free school programme.
At the meeting, Margaret Hodge MP confirmed that the National Audit Office are aware of the background of events at Kings Science Academy and will be publishing a report into the establishment of the Free School programme in December. The report will also consider the current DfE’s arrangements for overseeing the financial and academic performance of open Free Schools.
The House of Commons Public Accounts Committee will then be holding an oral session in January next year. This session will also discuss this report which will also be used as an opportunity for the committee to further scrutinise Civil Servants at the DfE over their lacklustre oversight of Kings Science Academy.
Commenting David Ward MP said: “I welcome the news that Margaret Hodge MP and the Public Accounts Committee are showing leadership and undertaking an investigation into an ideological pet project that has neither shown value for money nor proof that it raises educational attainment.
“What happened at Kings Science Academy raises some very worrying questions about the whole Free Schools programme not only about how efficiently public money is used but how millionaires making a profit is sanctioned and how those running a school can defraud, free of the knowledge that no action will be taken.”