Council unable to clarify school cash

DONCASTER Council has shelled out over £500,000 on a private consultancy firm to improve the performance of one of the borough’s failing secondary schools.

But the authority has been unable to provide detailed clarification of exactly what it agreed to pay for.

The council paid £537,861 for specialist support to the failing North Doncaster Technology College after it went into special measures for the second time in a decade.

Education bosses agreed the contract with the consultancy, set up by high achieving Wakefield academy Outwood Grange, to turn around the fortunes of the ailing school.

Figures provided by the council showed it spent almost £17,000 a month on the salaries of an executive principal and headteacher. The council confirmed Outwood Grange principal Michael Wilkins was the executive principal at NDTC.

The school, in Windmill Balk Lane, Woodlands, became an academy run by Outwood Grange under the leadership of Mr Wilkins in September 2009.

But the council could not reveal why another £18,000 of taxpayers’ money, part of a year-long contract described as “intervention expenses”, was paid to the consultancy.

When asked the authority said it did not have “any information on the specifics of these expenses”.

Four separate monthly payments totalling £30,000, made to Outwood Grange, also appear in the figures.

Again, the council said it had no information about the reason for the payments.

Chris Pratt, Doncaster Council’s director of children and young people’s services, said the authority brokered support from Outwood after NDTC, now called the Outwood Academy Adwick, was placed in special measures again in June 2008.

He added: “With Outwood’s assistance NDTC exited the Ofsted special measures category within the year which is ahead of normal expectations and met all the challenging targets set by HM Inspectorate.

“Now results at Outwood Academy Adwick have improved rapidly securing a high quality and sustained standard of education for the children of the area.”

NDTC moved out of special measures in July 2009 following a much-improved report from Ofsted which previously labelled the school as “inadequate”.

The report said good quality leadership from current headteacher Anne Seneviratne, who joined the school in September 2008, helped NDTC to be removed from special measures quicker than usual.