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News - 28 October 2013

Education Funding Agency report allegations of financial irregularities

An Education Funding Agency (EFA) report reveals allegations of financial irregularities and even possible fraud at Kings Science Academy in Bradford. As a free school it is state funded but not under local authority control.

The school was set up by Bradford-born teacher Sajid Raza, also known as Sajid Hussain, who is now the school's headteacher. Mr Raza said he wanted to provide a first class education to some of the city's most deprived children.

The school has been praised by Prime Minister David Cameron and Education Secretary Michael Gove, both of whom have visited it. However, in a statement to the BBC programme Newsnight the school admitted there were problems in the few months after the school was set up, but said those problems had been addressed.

A draft EFA report was leaked to the BBC's Newsnight programme and the Department for Education (DfE) has now published a redacted final version of it on its website.

In a statement attached to the redacted report the DfE said: "We found serious failings in financial management at the Kings Science Academy (KSA). We required KSA to address these failings urgently. A plan is in place to recover funds and the school is undertaking its own investigation. Any necessary disciplinary action is a matter for the school."

The DfE said that concerns about governance arrangements at the school had been flagged up to them by a whistle-blower in late 2012, and that they had examined the allegations on
an already scheduled visit, arranged to look at the school's financial management.

The findings of that visit combined with the school's own review of its accounting triggered a forensic investigation in early 2013, the DfE added.

The school was paid a £182,933 grant when it opened in September 2011. The EFA investigation found that there was a total of £86,335 which had not been used for its intended purpose.

A statement issued on behalf of Mr Raza and the school said that the issues raised by Newsnight related to a period two years ago.
"These have since been addressed with the support of external auditors and accountants. All payments received from the DfE have been fully accounted for by the academy and any sums incorrectly claimed have been repaid."

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