Tuesday 2 August 2016

Another fraud scandal at a Tory flagship free school

In March 2016, just days after the (now departed) Tory education secretary Nicky Morgan announced her plan to force privatise every single school in England it was revealed that one of the flagship Tory academy chains was riddled with financial mismanagement and outright fraud. 

The outrageous scamming at the Perry Beeches academy chain in Birmingham should have served as a dire warning about the future of the English education system under Tory rule. In their haste to carve up the education system and distribute it (for free) to their private sector mates, the Tories have created an unaccountable free-for-all for some of the most greedy and unscrupulous people in society (including several millionaire Tory donors) to pilfer taxpayer funded education budgets to line their own pockets.

In August 2016 the former head of another Tory flagship school and two other staff members were found guilty of fraudulently siphoning public money into their own personal bank accounts. Sajid Hussain Raza, Shabana Hussain and Daud Khan were found guilty on all charges of pilfering money from Department of Education grants to the King Science Academy in Bradford.

Before this fraudulent pilfering of public funds even came to light the Kings Science Academy school was already mired in controversy for a rip-off deal to rent the land it was built on at a cost of almost £6 million over 20 years when the Local Authority used Compulsory Purchase Orders to buy a plot of land for another school (the Appleton Academy in Wyke) at a tiny fraction of the cost (£362,000 in total). 

It should come as no surprise at all that the landlord soaking up £296,000 per year in rent is a company operated by a millionaire Tory donor and former vice-chairman of the party Alan Lewis.

In a way it's astonishing that the staff at the school will likely go to jail for fraudulently pilfering a few tens of thousands of pounds of public money into their own bank accounts, while the Tory party bigwig who will continue siphoning almost £300,000 per year out of kids' education budgets for the next 15 years will get away with it scot free.

The scandals at the Perry Beeches academy chain and the Kings Science Academy are clearly just the tip of the iceberg in an unaccountable and increasingly fragmented education system.

Just a quick look into the scamming techniques used by multiple academy chains in order to top-slice education budgets is proof that the Tory reforms have turned our taxpayer funded schools into lucrative cash cows to be milked by some of the most unscrupulous people in society.

Of course all of these people who are busy raiding six figure salaries, plus expenses, plus gold plated pension contributions out of our childrens' education budgets will have some internal justification monologue for what they're doing. They'll sleep like babies at night without the faintest concern for the fact that the Bentley in the drive of their new mansion and their luxury holiday at the Taj Lake Palace have come as a direct consequence of raiding the taxpayer funded education budgets intended to provide a decent level of education to thousands of kids.

The greedy topslicing of education budgets and the numerous cases of outright fraud demonstrate that the Tory ideological agenda of privatising the state education system is an absolute disaster for all but the lucky few who get to milk the cash cow, but somehow only a small minority of people seem even remotely concerned about it.

I guess most people are just so complacent and apathetic that they think it's perfectly fine and natural that the Tories have been allowing some of the most unscrupulous people in society (including millionaire Tory donors and outright criminals) to raid taxpayer funded education budgets for their own personal enrichment. Perhaps most people just think that outrageous scamming like this is just the natural order of things and just shrug their shoulders about it before going off to rote learn tropes like "Theresa May is a safe pair of hands" from their favourite tax-dodging billionaire sociopath owned propaganda rag.

Theresa May has made her intentions towards the education system perfectly clear by appointing Justine Greening as her new education secretary. If May wanted to stop the outrageous scamming that went on under David Cameron's watch, the last thing she would have done is appoint a woman who as a governor of a local school oversaw the sale of school sports facilities to property developers and then supported the give-away of the school to ARK academies which was being run at the time by yet another millionaire Tory donor called Stanley Fink.

If we continue to allow a load of Tory donors and outright criminals to pilfer education budgets to line their own pockets then our kids are obviously going to get worse levels of education than they would have otherwise, and the UK is going to continue slipping further and further behind the more advanced societies where teachers are treated with the respect they deserve and their education systems are considered a vital component of society and the economy, rather than just an opportunity for a bunch of politically connected scammers to siphon as much taxpayers' cash into their own pockets as possible.

What we can do

The Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn opposes the ongoing Tory privatisation of the English education system and proposes to undo the damage by introducing a National Education Service to oversee the education system.

You can follow the work of the Anti-Academies Alliance and the education campaigner Michael Rosen.

 Another Angry Voice  is a "Pay As You Feel" website. You can have access to all of my work for free, or you can choose to make a small donation to help me keep writing. The choice is entirely yours.


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