A school headmistress has come under fire for making an educational visit to California with an assistant during term-time.
Catherine Jenkinson-Dix, 51, and assistant Damien Whales jetted to San Diego despite there still being one week left of term at Ely College in Cambridgeshire.
The academy school claims the £2,500 trip to a High Tech High (HTH) teaching facility was aimed at learning about ‘project-based learning’.
But one anonymous staff member said the week-long trip was a “scandalous waste” of school funds and claimed the research could have been carried out online.
In a letter to the local newspaper the whistleblower wrote: “Staff at Ely College are outraged that the principal and one of her assistant principals went to San Diego during the last week of term – costing thousands out of the school budget.
“The trip was to investigate project-based learning – information which can be gained from the internet.
“A scandalous waste of the school’s money.”
School governors however said the trip “provided a great return on its investment” and more similar ones would be arranged in future.
Assistant principal Mr Whales, 35, said the journey was well worth the money.
He said: “The visit completely changed our view of how best to adopt project-based learning at Ely College, and clarified which aspects we need to focus on to ensure our students gain as much as theirs do.
“It was an incredible experience that has had a significant impact on my professional development, not least because of the students we met.
“If we can help our young people become as self aware, motivated and ambitious as those we met at HTH, we will have succeeded.”
Chair of governors Ben Gibbs said: “Having seen how inspired both Catherine and Damien are after their trip, I am completely satisfied that the visit has provided a great return on our investment.
“I am encouraging the college to arrange further visits to other leading schools and to develop partnerships which broaden our horizons and improve our students’ experience.”
In 2011 Ely College was dubbed “Britain’s strictest school” after Ms Jenkinson-Dix handed out 717 detentions in four days.
Students were punished for wearing excessive make-up, eating between lessons and carrying mobile phones.
At the time she said: “This is fundamental in preparing them for their future careers, where they certainly would not get away with being rude, dressing inappropriately and chewing gum.”