Exclusive: The super head, six schools and payments of over £1m

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PAYMENTS for the services of a “super headteacher” feted by the Government have cost the taxpayer in excess of £1m over the last four years, the Yorkshire Post can reveal today.

Michael Wilkins, one of a select group of headteachers providing specialist support for struggling schools, has been working for five secondaries in the region – as well as being an academy principal – with his services being paid for separately each time.

Mr Wilkins currently receives £182,000 for his primary job as principal at Outwood Grange in Wakefield – £40,000 more than the Prime Minister.

But as a National Leader in Education (NLE), his services as an executive principal parachuted into troubled schools in South and North Yorkshire and Stockton-on-Tees have also attracted payments totalling £497,400 from April 2007 to the present day.

The money has not been paid to him personally in the first place and has largely been paid into a private consultancy company set up at Outwood Grange comprising two governors, Mr Wilkins, and two other members of staff.

But a substantial proportion – £148,637 – has then been forwarded to Mr Wilkins’s own private company, Leadership Challenge Ltd.

The circumstances surrounding payments to Mr Wilkins – praised by Education Secretary Michael Gove as an outstanding schools leader – are now under investigation by Wakefield Council.

A spokesman for Mr Wilkins said: “His remuneration package reflects the extensive responsibility he carries. It should be noted that he has generated over £1m for Outwood and 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.”

Outwood Grange Academies Trust, which employs Mr Wilkins, defended the payments and pointed to the level of success its principal has had restoring the fortunes of failing schools.

Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post show that Outwood Grange Consultancy Ltd has been paid a total of £2.4m since September 2008 to provide leadership expertise and staff to deliver improvements at schools in Doncaster, Scarborough and two in Stockton-on-Tees.

• More details and full background in Saturday’s Yorkshire Post, with new glossy colour magazine.