Academy trust defends pay rise for CEO earning more than £210,000

MAT leader of 11 schools gets salary increase despite DfE crackdown on top earners

Sir John Townsley now earns more than £210,000

The chief executive of a multi academy trust which runs 11 schools had a pay rise taking his salary above £210,000 last year despite a Government crackdown on top pay.

Sir John Townsley, the chief executive of Gorse Academies Trust, was paid between £210,000 and £220,000, according to the trust accounts for the year ending in August 2018.

This was an increase from between £200,000 and 210,000 the previous year.

Gorse Academies Trust’s chair of the board Terry Eliott said Sir John’s pay had risen “as a consequence of him exceeding the very challenging targets that were set for him”.

But the increase comes at time when salaries of MAT leaders in some of the country’s largest trusts has fallen - amid pressure from the Department for Education.

The Education and Skills Funding Agency chief executive Eileen Milner has written to academy trusts paying more than £150,000 or paying more than one member of staff in excess of £100,000 asking them to explain the salaries they pay.

The Kreston Academies Benchmark Report published earlier this week said this appeared to have an influence on chief executive pay.

Its survey showed that the average salary for chief executives in trusts responsible for between 5,000 and 10,000 pupils had fallen from £140,000 to £114,000 in 2018.

Commenting on Sir John’s pay rise Mr Eliott said: “During the course of the time from July 2017 to July 2018, Sir John oversaw the inspection of five establishments within the trust. Four are academies all of which serve areas of significant disadvantage.” 

He said two free schools in Leeds: Ruth Gorse Academy and Elliott Hudson College had their first Ofsted inspections and both were judged to be outstanding overall and in all areas.

Morley Newlands Academy was also judged outstanding in all areas and Bruntcliffe Academy was rated as good with outstanding features.

Ofsted also inspected the trust’s teacher training provision Gorse SCITT and that was also given an outstanding judgement.

Gorse Academies Trust runs 11 schools around Leeds.

Mr Eliott added: “Under Sir John’s leadership performance table data shows that our Post-16, secondary and primary performance to be exceptionally strong include the progress made by our large number of disadvantaged students.

Several high profile multi academy trust leaders have also not had a pay rise this year, new accounts haved revealed this week.

England's highest-paid academy chief, Sir Dan Moynihan of the Harris Federation, did not see his salary increase. 

The trust's accounts show it remained in the £440,000 to £450,000 bracket.

Reach2 has said its chief executive Sir Steve Lancashire, who was paid between £240,000 and £250,000 in 2016-17, has not had a pay rise this year.

Outwood Grange Academies Trust accounts for 2017-18 show that the chief executive Martyn Oliver voluntarily rejected a pay rise for the second year running.

And Academies Enterprise Trust’s chief executive Julian Drinkall also did not take a pay rise this year.

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