School’s backing for education boss

A SCARBOROUGH secondary school has vigorously defended a trouble-shooting education leader who received more than £1 million of taxpayers’ cash.

Bosses at Scalby School have backed Outwood Grange Academy chief executive Michael Wilkins after an investigation was launched into payments dating back four years.

Mr Wilkins was employed by North Yorkshire County Council at a cost of £533,619 to build a foundation of specialist support and resurrect the school after Ofsted inspectors placed it in special measures in 2008.

He was responsible for employing new headteacher Paul Tarn whose disciplinary structure and regime which culminated in the education watchdog rating the school as good in its latest inspection last year.

The school was labelled as one of the first in the country to achieve such a remarkable turnaround.

However, he now faces a probe into payments including a salary of £182,000 for his at Outwood Grange in Wakefield - £40,000 more than Prime Minister David Cameron - and £497,400 for his role as a National Leader in Education.

The latter was paid into a private consultancy company set up at Outwood Grange with two governors, Mr Wilkins, and two other members of staff.

However, £148,637 was paid into Mr Wilkin’s private company, Leadership Challenge Ltd, and the payments are now being looked into.

Despite the investigation, the school’s new headteacher David Read said Mr Wilkins’ tenure - which ended in August 2010 after his contract finished - had initiated a renaissance period.

Mr Read, who took over his role in September last year, said: “During the time when Mr Wilkins Scalby School experienced a dramatic turnaround.

“The school achieved record breaking results in both 2009 and 2010, doubling the number of students achieving five GCSEs or equivalent including English and Mathematics in comparison to 2008.

“These impressive results led to national recognition as one of the most improved schools in the country for two years running and left the school placed the best in Yorkshire and the 18th best in the country in terms of the progress students there make.

“The school also came out of special measures in April 2010 and was one of only three schools to achieve a good rating in doing so.”

A spokeswoman for Mr Wilkins also defended the payments and said he had made more than £1 million for the Outwood Grange set-up.

She added: “His remuneration package reflects the extensive responsibilities he carries.

“The year-on-year efficiency savings achieved covers his annual salary several times over.

“If you calculate annual earnings over four years for any headteacher with the responsibility for a large school or several schools, the figure would be significant.”

Mr Wilkins has also worked at schools in Harrogate, Doncaster and two in Stockton-on-Tees.