The proliferation of academy trust bosses earning large sums is evidence that the "rot of greed" has taken root in the education system, a union conference has been told.
At the ATL-section conference of the NEU teaching union, delegates spoke about multi-academy trusts appointing chief executives without having any idea what job they would do, and people receiving promotion and pay rises thanks to opaque decisions taken by "tight-knit" groups of individuals.
Robin Bevan, a teacher from Essex, Southend and Thurrock, gave the example of a MAT where an individual who served as head and chief executive had recently decided to step down.
He said: "The advert was placed for a replacement headteacher and an advert was placed also for a CEO for that MAT. A job that once had been managed quite admirably by one individual.. suddenly being replaced by two.”
Mr Bevan said he asked the governors at the secondary school where the head had served "what exactly is the CEO going to do?"
"To which came the answer, 'well we’re not entirely sure – we’ll see who applies and then work out how they’re going to lead the academy trust'.”
Simon Clarkson, a teacher from Leicestershire, said he was aware of a MAT where the current boss had repeatedly been promoted without open recruitment.
“In her rise, to my knowledge, she only had one competitive interview," he said. "Every other change of role, every other promotion, every increase in her pay scale happened after what was termed ‘a professional conversation with the governing body'."
Mr Clarkson said that the staff at the MAT were only made aware of each promotion "when the chair of the trust board appeared in the staff briefing next to this teacher, with them both smiling".
"No open recruitment, no external independent oversight, no input from the local authority and certainly no meaningful right of challenge from the wider stakeholders of the school.
"Just a small tight-knit group of individuals – the trust board members – apportioning more and more power amongst themselves and this was done entirely within the rules as they exist now."
Mr Clarkson said that warnings about academy CEO largesse had gone unheeded.
“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," he said. "Events across the country have shown that we were right to be concerned.”
The conference passed a motion instructing the executive to lobby the government to produce guidance for CEO salaries.