The programme aims to identify school leaders who have the ability to be able to raise standards elsewhere. Once they join the scheme they are expected to work with education bosses of councils in charge of struggling schools.
There are 49 NLEs across Yorkshire and around 500 across the country. The programme was set up in 2006 and is managed by the publicly-funded National College of School Leadership.
Education Secretary Michael Gove wants to double the number of NLEs by 2015 and has publicly praised both the programme and Mr Wilkins for the impact they have had in raising standards.
Speaking at the National Conference of Directors of Children and Adults Services in November last year, he said: “The success of the work of National Leaders of Education, the National College of School Leadership, and trusts led by great school leaders such as Mike Wilkins... demonstrates that school-to-school improvement generates great results. I expect that local authorities will want to make more use of NLEs.”
Outwood Grange is the only school in Yorkshire that has more than one NLE within it. As well as Mr Wilkins, The National College lists Paul Tarn and Julie Slater as NLEs.
Once NLEs have joined the programme they are expected to work to raise standards in at least one struggling school, but there is no upper limit on how many schools they are allowed to work with.
The National College recruits headteachers onto the programme, but a spokesman said it was not responsible for monitoring the payments made in individual NLE contracts.
He added: “Levels of funding are agreed between the NLE and relevant local authority and these vary according to the scale of intervention, complexity of challenge and level of support required.”
In addition to the £3.2m which Outwood Grange has received from three local authorities for NLE work, it has also been given an annual payment of around £10,000 for each of the last five years from the National College to support its work.
The Yorkshire Post asked the Department for Education for a response from Mr Gove to the level of public funding which Outwood Grange has been able to receive and to the fact that the majority of this cash has been paid to a private company set up by the school.
However, the department declined to comment.
To become a National Leader in Education, headteachers need to have a proven track record of outstanding leadership and management and be leading a school or academy that achieves outstanding results for the community it serves, with staff that have the capacity and skills to support another school.