Academy trust bosses paid £200k as schools face funding cuts and redundancies

Lack of funding forcing education ‘into an absolute straitjacket with a tight focus on English, maths and science’, teachers told

Individual schools face severe funding cuts as academy trust bosses receive pay rises
Individual schools face severe funding cuts as academy trust bosses receive pay rises

Academy trusts are paying bosses more than £150,000 at a time when individual schools face funding cuts and staff redundancies, it has been revealed.

Vital resources and funding needs to be focused on teaching and learning rather than on the salaries of multi-academy trust chief executives, delegates at the ATL section of the National Education Union were told.

Anne Barker, a teacher from West Sussex, told the conference that Thomas Bennett Community College, in Crawley, part of The Kemnal Academies Trust (TKAT), was facing £1m of cuts to its school budget.

Thirty-five jobs could be lost and 78 members of staff are facing cuts to pay or hours, Ms Barker claimed.

And yet, Karen Roberts, the chief executive of TKAT, which runs the secondary school in Crawley, was given a 7 per cent pay rise last year – increasing her salary from £154,000 to £165,000.

“If the cuts are carried through they will hit most heavily pupils with the greatest need,” Ms Barker said.

More than 2,400 people have signed a petition calling on the academy trust to withdraw the “dramatic cuts”, which they argue could lead to cuts to the support of children with special educational needs.

Speaking to the motion – which called for the learning and wellbeing of pupils to be prioritised over a rise in senior positions and “inflated salaries” – Ms Barker added that guidelines for CEO pay was “essential”.

Simon Clarkson, a teacher from Leicestershire, told delegates at the annual conference: “Three years ago, this conference warned that a lack of transparency could lead to a rot of greed taking root in parts of our education system. Events across the country have shown that we were right to be concerned.”

Robin Bevan, a teacher from Essex, Southend and Thurrock, said he knew of a trust that employed someone working as both a headteacher and chief executive. When that person stepped down, the trust split the role into two jobs and advertised for a chief executive on £100,000 and a headteacher separately – but it could not explain why the new position had been created.

And he told the conference that he knew of another academy trust chief executive who was being paid £200,000.

“This resolution does raise a profound question about whether these expanding and increasing number of CEO roles are necessary [and] whether they represent an appropriate use of limited educational resources,” Mr Bevan said.

Delegates at the annual conference in Liverpool on Monday also raised concerns about more school leaders being forced into “unethical decisions” for pupils and staff as a result of funding cuts.

Josie Whiteley, president of AMiE – the union’s school leaders’ section, said budget cuts has led to education being “forced into an absolute straitjacket with a tight focus on English, maths and science”.

She said: “Schoolchildren are so stressed as a result that the levels of depression, self-harm and other mental health issues are increasing. The idea of having an Easter holiday in year 11 is just a dream.”

Even the “most ethical” of school leaders are having to make decisions to the detriment of their students, she added, such as increasing class sizes, narrowing the curriculum and cutting staff.

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