Headteacher spent £150,000 of  struggling school’s money on designer headphones and Michelin star meal 

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A headteacher was allowed to spend £150,000 of a struggling faculty’s cash, together with on a pair of designer headphones and a Michelin star meal.

Stella Mbubaegbu, the principal of Highbury Faculty in Portsmouth, travelled in luxurious “executive chauffeur” pushed automobiles together with a Cadillac, and took first-class flights to remain at five-star motels all over the world, it has emerged.

Over the previous 5 years, she spent over £60,500 on lodging, over £72,800 on journey and an additional £2,300 on foods and drinks, in accordance with company bank card receipts obtained below Freedom of Info (FOI) legal guidelines by the journal FE Week.

Ministers have ordered a assessment into the varsity’s spending, saying they’re “deeply concerned” by the revelations.

Earlier this yr, Highbury Faculty introduced plans to shut its sixthform amid deteriorating funds. Minutes from a governors’ assembly reveal that Ms Mbubaegbu warned the 2019/20 finances can be the “hardest for many years”, including that “there was a very limited safety net if cash ran out”.  

Such had been the monetary pressures that the chair of governors, Tim Mason, mentioned he “wished to explore” merging with the neighbouring Portsmouth Faculty.  

Ms Mbubaegbu, who was awarded a CBE within the 2008 New Yr Honours for companies to additional schooling, denied being a “flagrant spend-thrift” who makes use of Faculty funds for “private achieve”.

Her purchases included £434.86 Bang & Olufsen Beoplay H8 headphones and a meal on the Michaelin starred restaurant Quilon in London for herself and three different friends for £356. Receipts from the principal’s travels additionally present taxi rides together with using “executive chauffeurs”.

One exhibits that after touchdown in London Heathrow,  she paid £175 for a taxi take her to the Hilton Birmingham Metropole lodge, whereas one other taxi picked up her baggage and took it again to her residence handle in Hampshire.

Between 2013/14 and 2017/18, Ms Mbubaegbu stayed at dozens of 4 or 5 star motels in America, Canada, Germany, South Africa, Dubai, China and Saudi Arabia, in addition to 4 separate nights on the Portsmouth Marriott Resort which is a 20 minute drive from her residence handle.

Ms Mbubaegbu mentioned: “The only function for my worldwide work has at all times been with the goal of accelerating the Faculty’s fame abroad with a purpose to create extra sources of revenue.

“Over the past 4 years the Faculty has earned within the area of £2.5 million kilos of extra revenue from worldwide enterprise improvement actions, revenue that has been very important in defending each pupil companies and the standard of schooling afforded to our college students in a time of great and unprecedented cuts to Authorities sponsored programmes.

“In its entirety, the expenditure incurred furthered the operational and strategic goals of the College.”

She added that each one the bills that had been launched below FOI legal guidelines had been “approved and authorised correctly and are also subject to independent audit in accordance with College procedures”.

The Faculty, which was beforehand had an “outstanding” ranking, was final yr downgraded to “requires improvement” by Ofsted. Inspectors famous that “leaders and governors have been slow to reverse the college’s decline in performance.”

Lord Agnew, the colleges minister, mentioned: “I’ve already requested the FE Commissioner to urgently look into this matter.

“School and college leaders must treat taxpayers’ money with the utmost care and in a way that benefits their students. Where this does not happen we take the strongest possible action.”

He added that the school’s makes an attempt to dam the publication of the bank card data had been “shocking”, and that he welcomed the Info Commissioner’s ruling that it should launch the receipts.

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