'Because he's worth it,' Harris founder defends Sir Dan Moynihan's £420k salary

Lord Harris says chief executive of Harris academy chain, Sir Dan Moynihan, has saved the taxpayer £12 million in the last three years

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The highest paid multi-academy trust (MAT) chief executive in the country deserves his £420,000-plus pay packet, according to the founder of his academy chain. 

Lord Harris of Peckham said that Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation,  was a “great man” who “works very hard” and had saved the public purse millions of pounds.

Speaking on the BBC’s Today programme this morning, Lord Harris – who made millions by founding the Carpetright chain before setting up the Harris Federation – defended Sir Dan’s salary, which was between £420,000 and £425,000 in 2015-16.

“He’s done a great job, he’s a great man,” the Conservative peer said.

When pressed on Sir Dan’s salary he said: “But he earns it.”

Lord Harris said that when pupils arrive at the MAT’s schools “they’re normally failing, they are at the bottom levels”, but the federation’s Progress 8 scores were the best in the country.

Pay review

The pay of academy chief executives has come under increasing scrutiny in recent months. Last month Lord Adonis, a former Labour schools minister who was an architect of the academies programme, called for curbs on the pay of MAT CEOs.

The Department for Education has also recently tightened the rules surrounding executive pay.

Sir Dan earned £395,000-£400,000 in 2014-15, meaning his salary rose by a minimum of 5 per cent in 2015-16, compared to the overall 1 per cent pay rise awarded to teachers by the government.

Lord Harris argued that under Sir Dan’s management, the Harris Federation was able to invest more public money directly in frontline education compared to when its schools were run by councils.

“When they are a state school, and they are run by the local authority, 10-15 per cent of their budget is taken by the local authority,” he said.

“We only take 4.5 per cent away from the schools, so that leaves the school with more money, roughly 8-10 per cent, to spend on more teachers, more books and of course more computers – and we still live within our budget.”

“If you don’t have someone like [Sir Dan] that won’t happen.”

He claimed that in the last three years Sir Dan had saved the taxpayer £12 million by “buying better”. He also said the Harris Federation’s strong performance – with 84 per cent of its schools rated "outstanding" – was directly dependent on the chief executive.

“It’s all done from the centre, with Sir Dan giving expert advice, teaching these principals, putting discipline into the schools. He works very hard. I speak to him four or five times a day and I really mean that – I know exactly what’s happening.”

“He’s one of the best people I have ever worked with.”

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