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Academy chains ordered to justify paying bosses more than £100k

Holland Park School, where the head earns more than £260,000, has been sent a letter

Eleanor Busby
Education Correspondent
Tuesday 05 February 2019 15:06 GMT
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Dozens of academy trusts have been contacted by the minister over pay
Dozens of academy trusts have been contacted by the minister over pay (PA)

Nearly 30 academy chains have been ordered to justify paying their chief executives or headteachers more than £100,000 as part a government drive to curb excessive salaries.

Academies minister Lord Agnew has written to 28 chairs of trustees asking for reassurance that financial resources were not being diverted from “the frontline of education” to pay for wages.

The academies must 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.

It comes after financial accounts revealed that the head of Holland Park School, an academy in Kensington in west London – once dubbed the “socialist Eton” – saw his pay rise to £260,000.

The single-school academy trust was among the chains that received the letter from the minister, which calls on trusts to work with the government on the "divisive issue" of high pay.

It comes after Eileen Milner, chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency, wrote to 213 academy trusts paying salaries of more than £150,000 asking trustees to justify them.

A report from the Public Accounts Committee last year said academy trusts that pay their bosses “unjustifiably” high salaries could spend taxpayers’ money better on improving children’s education.

The official annual report and accounts for academies in England showed there were 102 instances where trustees were paid salaries in excess of £150,000.

Lord Agnew, minister for the school system, said: "The best academies place freedom in the hands of school leaders but with that autonomy comes greater accountability and transparency, which is exactly why I am insistent that the salaries of their executives are justifiable.

"And just because we are advocates of the academies programme, doesn't mean we won't call a trust out where we believe they are not acting responsibly.”

He added: "By publicly challenging the minority of trusts that are not complying with this request, we will ensure that every pound of public money is spent as effectively as possible to continue improving the standard of education in our schools."

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