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Friday, 28 November 2014

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Top hotel treatment for head of Carlisle academy school

A Carlisle secondary school has been paying for its headteacher to stay in one of the area’s top hotels regularly over the last three years.

Russ Wallace photo
Russ Wallace

The Richard Rose Trust, which runs the Central Academy, has been putting up troubleshooter Russ Wallace in the three-star Crown Hotel at Wetheral since January 2009.

On the hotel’s website it says prices for a single room start at £120-a-night and £135 for a double room, but the school says it pays a “favourable” rate.

Mr Wallace, 63, was brought in to change round the fortunes of the former troubled school when it was plunged into special measures after failing a snap Ofsted inspection three months after opening in September 2008.

It came out of special measures in November 2010.

Last week, the academy announced that 50 jobs – a sixth of its workforce – were to go at its two sites on Lismore Place and at the Morton Academy on Wigton Road.

Staff were told that the academies must save a further £1.5m to help balance its books following a continued overspend since the schools opened in September 2008.

The workforce of about 300 was informed of the proposals at a series of meetings last week. A consultation period runs until April 3 and talks will be held with unions.

The news has angered some parents who say they may have been able to keep their jobs if the Richard Rose Trust hadn’t been forking out thousands of pounds for hotel accommodation.

In a letter to the News & Star, one parent said: “Maybe the staff at Richard Rose Academy would have been able to keep their jobs if the Federation hadn’t been paying for Mr Wallace’s hotel accommodation for the past three years.”

Mike Gibbons, chief executive of the Richard Rose Federation, said: “Mr Wallace’s family home is in the North East and he travels regularly backwards and forwards to there at his own expense and does not have a company car.

“On the occasions when meetings and other commitments prevent him from travelling home, the Richard Rose Trust pays a favourable rate for Mr Wallace to stay at the Crown Hotel in Wetheral.

“It is acknowledged by all at national and local level that without the experience and skills that Mr Wallace has brought to the Federation, the Academy in question would not be on the road to recovery now.”

Mr Wallace will retire in the summer. He will be replaced by co-head Jacky Kennedy.

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