Cash row over super head pay

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A ‘SUPER-head’ who was involved in running a Doncaster school has been asked to repay more than £90,000 apparently paid to his private consultancy without permission.

Michael Wilkins was headhunted to provide specialist support for struggling schools including North Doncaster Technology College, in Adwick, and as a result his annual salary rocketed from £102,000 to £130,000.

But an audit ordered by Wakefield Council, found £91,692 was paid to his company, Challenge Leadership Ltd, without proper authorisation.

Mr Wilkins was called in to aid Outwood Grange Academy in Wakefield, where he was paid £182,000 a year for his job as principal, as well as North Doncaster Technology College, which is now Outwood Academy (Adwick).

Outwood Grange, which employs him as chief executive, disputed the audit findings.

The council audit covered when Outwood Grange was still council controlled, before it became an academy in September 2009.

The college and its own associated consultancy received £1.3 million for the work, and auditors traced more than £140,000 paid to Mr Wilkins’ own company.

Wakefield Council’s legal director Bernadette Livesey sent Outwood Grange a letter explaining that Wilkins should have received just a third of the total fee they received for his services and details a calculation of payments, amounting to £91,692 pounds, which the council states should be repaid.

A council spokesman said: “We had concerns that some payments to Mr Wilkins were not properly authorised and have seen no evidence to suggest they were, which is why we asked him to repay just over £91,000. Having written to Mr Wilkins to request this money, and having recently gone through mediation proceedings, no repayments have been made.”

The council is referring its findings to the District Auditor.

The Trust insists the payments to Challenge Leadership were temporary, reflecting him taking on greater responsibilities and extra hours, and claims they were approved by Outwood Grange’s governing body.

The statement said: “Steps are being taken across the Trust structure to review the financial policies, controls and monitoring procedures. A thorough review of authorisation processes, including in relation to payments and expenses, is under way.”