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News archive - March/April 2019

High-salary academy heads have knuckles rapped

Twenty eight academy trusts have been ordered to justify salaries over £100,000, as the Government continues its drive to ensure pay in schools matches individual responsibilities and the standard of education on offer.

Academies Minister Lord Agnew has written to 28 chairs of trustees as part of the Government’s commitment to curb ‘excessive’ salaries based on the size, standards, and financial health of trusts. The academies have been asked to provide more details on the pay of executives who earn more than £150,000 - and those earning £100,000 if two or more people in a school earn a six-figure salary.

In the letter, which has been sent to fewer than 1% of academy trusts nationwide, Lord Agnew calls on the chairs to work with the Government on the “divisive issue” of high pay, asking them to justify salaries and reassure ministers that that they are not “diverting financial resources that could be more effectively deployed on the front line of education”.

Although fewer than 4% of trusts pay two or more salaries between £100k-£150k, Eileen Milner, the new CEO of the ESFA, says she believes “that not all boards are being rigorous enough on this issue. CEO and senior pay should reflect the improvements they make to schools’ performance and how efficiently they run their trusts. I would not expect the pay of a CEO or other non-teaching staff to increase faster than the pay award for teachers.”

The letter follows the news that more than 50% of pupils in state-funded schools in England are now studying in an academy or free school. The Government says new research shows that, in the majority of cases, standards have risen more quickly in sponsored academies than similar council-run schools. Just over 8,300 schools in the country have now become an academy or opened as a free school.