Most of the money raised by a private leisure centre on the grounds of a controversial academy is being spent on an £850,000 severance package for its former head, MPs have heard.
It has also emerged that academy trusts were offered nearly £1 million to take over the same school.
The Commons Public Accounts Committee this afternoon questioned John Wentworth, a trustee of the Durand Education Trust, as part of its inquiry into academy accounts and performance.
Durand Education Trust had owned the land and buildings of Durand Academy in Stockwell, south London.
When the school was transferred to a new sponsor, the Dunraven Educational Trust, in September, the land the school sits on was transferred to Lambeth Council and leased to the renamed Van Gogh Primary.
But the Durand Education Trust retained ownership of a private leisure centre and two accommodation blocks on the school’s grounds, which had been used to provide additional income for the school.
Mr Wentworth told MPs that Durand Education Trust’s assets were generating about £400,000 a year.
However, when asked what that money was being used for, he said most of it was going to Sir Greg Martin, the controversial former headteacher of Durand.
He said: “At the moment, we have a considerable liability to the previous executive headteacher of Durand Academy, and he has a contractual…I suppose it’s a break in his contract, which entitles him to a lump sum payment, and so most of the money is going to paying the previous headteacher.”
As Mr Wentworth spoke, David Boyle, the chief executive of Dunraven Educational Trust, closed his eyes and shook his head.
Mr Wentworth told MPs that Sir Greg’s severance payment was worth £850,000.
When asked how the figure was arrived at, Mr Wentworth said: “Through an investigation, an inquiry from the Charity Commission, a statutory inquiry, which DET went along with.
“Originally it was considerably higher and, as the numbers grew, an arrangement was made between Sir Greg Martin and DET with the Charity Commission authorising that figure.”
Meg Hillier, chair of the committee, described the liability as “big, expensive handcuffs for a charity to have”.
Mr Wentworth told the MPs that “Durand Education Trust maintains that they are the legitimate trustees of that land”, but there were “ongoing discussions” with the Education and Skills Funding Agency about what would happen to these assets.
Earlier today, Tes reported that, in future, money generated from Durand Education Trust’s assets may no longer be solely used to support the school on whose grounds it sits.
Mr Wentworth this afternoon told MPs that if DET remained in control of the leisure centre and accommodation blocks, they would be used in line with its charitable objectives “to support the wider education objectives of children in Lambeth and to support the children at the Van Gogh Primary School”.
Mr Boyle told the committee that Dunraven had been offered £918,000 to take on Durand to deal with boiler and asbestos issues. Harris Federation had also been offered this amount to sponsor the academy before it declined the offer, he said.