An MP has welcomed the appointment of a new interim head teacher at a scandal-hit Bradford free school.
Jane Tiller, the current head of Immanuel College in Thackley, has been parachuted in to work on an interim basis at Kings Science Academy, in Lidget Green, until September.
When Mrs Tiller was appointed at Immanuel in 2005, the school was in special measures, but she has overseen a turnaround which resulted in Ofsted rating it as ‘good’ after its most recent inspection.
Bradford East MP David Ward, who has led the criticism of Kings Science Academy, last night welcomed the appointment of Mrs Tiller as “a positive step.”
The Liberal Democrat MP said: “I have known Jane ever since she was appointed at Immanuel and it’s a good choice because she has a great track record of raising attainment in schools and introducing systems and governance arrangements.
“It’s a positive step in the right direction. Ofsted was very critical that over the last 12 months, Kings was not improving at the required rate. Jane arrived at Immanuel when it was a struggling school that had started from scratch after the schools reorganisation, and it has improved quite radically.”
Mr Ward said he hoped she could do the same at Kings, for the sake of pupils at the free school.
He said the process of bringing in an executive head to oversee struggling schools was “established practice” that had worked well in Bradford in the past.
The move follows a critical Ofsted inspection last month, which said Kings was not making improvements fast enough following an inspection last year that determined the school "needed improvement".
Among the criticisms were that the school had not employed enough experienced teaching staff.
Earlier this year, the school’s founder and principal Sajid Raza was arrested and bailed by police investigating allegations of fraud.
The free school has been at the centre of a scandal after a Department for Education investigation report alleged that it had submitted fabricated invoices to claim public money.
It is understood that Mrs Tiller, who has been involved in education in Bradford for more than 30 years, was appointed after the school’s governors approached the Bradford Partnership – a group representing the city’s secondary schools.
It appears likely that she will work from Kings for two days a week, while retaining her position at Immanuel.
Councillor Ralph Berry, executive member for children's services, said: “I welcome it. It’s very much needed. A well-respected head with a track record of school improvement is just what’s required.”
Coun Berry said that, despite Kings being a free school, it was “interesting” to note that a local partnership and the local authority were now leading the efforts to improve it. While I still have very serious concerns about the free school policy nationally, this shows that the system in Bradford is rising to the challenge again and we are working together irrespective of what category a school is in for the good of Bradford children,” said Coun Berry.
Mrs Tiller started her teaching career in Bradford at Queensbury School where she became a member of the management team before moving onto Feversham School which became Bradford's first state Muslim school in 2000.