£91k-a-year ‘super-head’ who swindled Dudley special school in huge scam handed £200k court bill – Birmingham Live

A former £91,000-a-year ‘super-head’ of a special needs school who cheated it out of thousands of pounds has been ordered to repay his ill-gotten gains. Grandad David Bishop-Rowe was locked up after he pocketed almost £120,000 from the Dudley school during his two-year scam.

The fraudster ‘abused’ his position to defraud Sutton School and Specialist College, splashing his cash on a Spanish villa and a £4,000 piano. The convict was one of six specially selected ‘super-heads’ who formed a nationwide taskforce responsible for improving school leadership across the UK.

Now, he has been ordered to settle a court bill of almost £200,000 or face extra time behind bars. Jurors at Wolverhampton Crown Court took just 24 minutes to find Bishop-Rowe unanimously guilty of three offences in October last year.

He was convicted after trial of two counts of fraud by abuse of position and one count of fraud by false representation – which took place between September 2011 and September 2013. The defendant was then jailed for two-and-a-half years last December.

Jurors heard how he carried out ‘lucrative work’, offering advice to other headteachers during school hours. Cash for the work should have been paid to the school as compensation for their absent headteacher.

The school was also left ‘believing’ it was receiving funds from The National College for work Bishop-Rowe was undertaking. But instead, he ‘diverted’ the money into his personal account.

Invoices were paid into the bank account of his limited company Education Development Consultancy Ltd. Bishop-Rowe – formerly of The Crescent, Cradley Heath – continued to receive his full salary of more than £91,000 a year despite being away from the school for up to three days a week.

He also convinced school governors to give him two bonus salary uplift payments of almost £50,000. Prosecutor Mark Jackson said there was a total financial loss of £119,589.25.

This included payments from The National College, a salary uplift, pension payments from Dudley Council, council costs to recover the lost money and a severance payment made when his employment was terminated. The homeowner was said to be ‘well-off’ at the time of his offending and had offered to repay the entire sum due to his ‘considerable savings’ and inheritance.

Catherine Ravenscroft, defending, said there were ‘no other complaints’ regarding his conduct as a headteacher. During a proceeds of crime act hearing at the court earlier this month, Bishop-Rowe was ordered to repay Dudley Council £140,810 within two months or face an extra two years in prison.

The 67-year-old must also pay the council’s investigation and court costs of £50,422. The school – now known as Sutton School – has since received a ‘good’ Ofsted rating and a new headteacher.

Councillor Patrick Harley, leader of Dudley Council, said: “I very much welcome the decision of the court. It means Bishop-Rowe must pay back every penny he took fraudulently from the school, or face a longer term in prison.

“He was a highly thought of ‘super-head’ with a long and distinguished career in education, who occupied a position of trust and respect within the school and local community. It is truly disappointing to see that he used this position of responsibility and influence for his own gain, rather than for the benefit of the school he was leading.

“I would like to thank the council team and governors of Sutton School for their relentless pursuit of the truth over so many years. The school is now being expertly led by Ian Curnow and holds a ‘good’ rating with Ofsted.

“The resilience of the governors, staff and students is to be praised as the students thrive in a safe, welcoming and enriching environment which meets their learning needs and prepares them for adulthood.” Bishop-Rowe – who had no previous convictions and was ‘held in high regard’ in the teaching profession – resigned from his position at the school in 2014 after 12 years in the job.

The National College for Teaching and Leadership banned Bishop-Rowe from teaching indefinitely in 2017.