The “superhead” of an academy school, who was praised by education secretary Michael Gove, drained more than £100,000 in consultancy fees that were “not legitimate”, a report has found.
Michael Wilkins, head of the Outwood Grange College academy in Wakefield, West Yorkshire, grabbed around £147,000 in consultancy fees over two years and was effectively “paid for travelling from home to work”.
Gove had praised Wilkins as a “great school leader”. But a shocking audit report by Wakefield council found that he drained more than £100,000 from the school.
The report, made public after a freedom of information request, found “a significant breakdown in appropriate standards of governance and accountability”.
Wilkins was paid £500 a day for work he undertook as part of the National Leaders of Education initiative—a body of “outstanding” headteachers.
The payments were made to a limited company, Challenge Leadership Ltd, which the audit report describes as “reportedly set up by Mr Wilkins for tax purposes”.
The extra money supplemented his regular earnings of £236,000 over the two-year period. Wilkins also got around £7,000 in mileage expenses, some of which was not legitimate, says the report.
Wakefield council’s solicitor advised in 2010 that Wilkins had been overpaid in fees by around £90,000 plus travel expenses. Wilkins denies this.
The school may also have kept money raised for charity.
Between 2004 and 2009 around £21,500 was held in the academy’s charity account. Some £18,700 was due to charities but only £3,600 was paid in this period.
Some funds appeared to go to the school’s general fund instead.