Sunday, July 10, 2016

New Cross Academy finance officer jailed in 'biggest ever education fraud'

Surprized that amongst UK newspapers, only The Daily Mail seems to have picked up on the jailing of an accountant for nine years for the 'biggest ever education fraud' seen in the UK. Sam Kayade was found guilty of obtaining £150,000 by theft and £3.95 million by fraud, and was sentenced at Woolwich Crown Court on 24 June.

Kayade worked for Haberdashers' Aske's school, based at two sites in Jerningham Road and Pepys Road SE14, from 1997. He continued as a finance officer during a period in which it expanded to become the Haberdashers' Aske's Academy Federation taking over other schools including Malory school in Downham (which became Knights Academy), Monson Primary School (which became Hatcham Temple Grove) and Crayford Academy in Bexley.

The court heard that Kayade began transferring money into a bank account he controlled from 2006 and continued until the fraud was discovered in 2012. It became public knowledge in 2014 when the school took civil action against Kayade which resulted in the court ordering him to pay back funds to the school. However only £800,000 has been recovered. Parents were told in 2014 that the fraud amounted to £2m, with the federation's accounts filed in March 2013 stating that £1,047,788 had been lost through "unauthorised transfers" in 2011 and £924,316 in 2012 (Guardian, 12 July 2014). Now it appears that the full amount may have been twice that. 

£4m over seven years is £570,000 a year - an amount that would comfortably pay the salaries of at least 12 teachers at the top of the salary scale. You have to wonder how any school could fail to notice such a gap in its finances, and at the irony of the Government's Academisation programme premised on the need to bring in private sector business know how to education. Haberdashers academies have been very popular with Ministers - Michael Gove famously sent students off to sleep during a visit in 2012 -  and the schools have one of the oldest business sponsors in the country - the City of London Haberdashers livery company. While sophisticated fraud can be difficult to detect,  a hole in the finances that large would put most schools in a cash flow crisis that would be impossible to ignore. Questions too for the Government's Education Funding Agency which funds academy schools and presumably monitors what they do with the money.

The Haberdashers' Aske's girls school in Jerningham Road in 1905
- the buildings remain much the same today, though there are a few more cars and buses!

No comments: