The so-called ‘Free’ schools were Michael Gove’s pet project during his time as Secretary of State for Education. Now that he has left frontline politics, they should also pass into history.
They have done far more harm than good – not just to the education of our children but to the image of British education.
Only days ago, we learned of a ‘Free School’ where pupils were put into “lunch isolation”, on starvation rations, if parents were late paying up for meals – and where pupils were “forced” to join extra-curricular activities.
Other ‘Free’ schools have failed altogether or those involved in their organisation have been convicted of criminal offences.
Now the founder of what has become Dixons Kings Academy – along with two staff members – has joined the ever-growing ranks of those who thought they could make a fast buck out of Mr Gove’s vanity project.
It isn’t working and it never will. Theresa May should pull the plug and either close these schools or put them under full state control.
The founder of a flagship free school and two staff members have been told they could be jailed after being found guilty of fraudulently obtaining about £150,000 from government grants.
Sajid Hussain Raza, 43, Shabana Hussain, 40, and Daud Khan, 44, were convicted by a jury at Leeds crown court of making payments into their bank accounts from Department for Education grants given to help set up the Kings science academy in Bradford in 2011.
The defendants showed no emotion as the jury foreman returned unanimous guilty verdicts on all charges. The jury of five men and seven women had been deliberating for just over a day after hearing evidence in the six-week trial.
Judge Christopher Batty told the defendants: “You have been convicted of serious offences and I am very much considering custody in each of your cases.”
The academy was praised by the then prime minister, David Cameron, during a high-profile visit in March 2012. It has since become part of Dixons Academies Charitable Trust and has been renamed Dixons Kings academy.
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