Almost 100 multi academy trusts have been ordered to justify the six-figure salaries of head teachers or chief executives in another attempt by the government to curb “excessive pay.”
The Department for Education has written to 63 trusts for the first time after discovering they pay multiple members of staff more than £100,000.
It has also written again to another 31 academy trusts which have “have failed to provide adequate justification” for paying top salaries despite previous requests for them to do so by the Education and Skills Funding Agency chief executive Eileen Milner.
The ESFA has now written to 276 trusts over excessive pay but only 50 have agreed to reduce their salaries.
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Those trusts that have yet to respond to previous correspondence from Lord Agnew and Ms Milner, have been told to comply with this request.
The DfE has asked them to provide evidence on 12 different aspects of their pay policy, including “details of succession planning for highly-paid staff where trusts intend to reduce the level of salary in future.”
Academies Minister Lord Agnew said: “The overwhelming majority of trusts are following the rules, and it is encouraging that 50 trusts have responded to our request to justify and revise high salaries, but I am determined to continue publicly challenging the minority that are not complying.
“We are able to scrutinise academies much more closely than council-run schools, and this allows us to challenge trusts to use taxpayers’ money as effectively as possible so that the standard of education continues to rise in schools right across the country.”
The chairs of trustees at all 94 trusts just written to by Ms Milner have been asked to provide a rationale for paying six-figure salaries and offered advice on “setting and structuring pay to ensure it is commensurate with the education on offer and the number of pupils educated by the trust”.
The ESFA has made a series of attempts to curb top executive pay in multi academy trusts and highlight the issue.
Last July it gave 53 academy trusts two weeks to justify paying high salaries last year.
The ESFA published letters it this week sent to the trusts then.
It told them they were "one of a very small number of trusts" that had paid either at least one person a salary of £150,000 or more, or at least two salaries between £100,000 and £150,000 in 2016-17.
In November it named the 125 academy trusts that paid at least one salary of more than £150,000 last year.
The list is published in the Consolidate Annual Report and Accounts, which collates data from the more than 7,000 academies in England for the academic year 2016-17.
In the previous year, 121 trusts paid at least one salary of £150,000, representing 4.1 per cent of the sector.