Exclusive: Top-earning academy bosses revealed

More than £21 million is spent on salaries of top-paid academy employees, Tes analysis reveals

Jonathan Owen

News article image

England’s highest earning academy bosses are revealed today in a Tes analysis of 121 trusts identified by the Department of Education (DfE) as paying salaries of more than £150,000.

The DfE last week named the academy trusts that paid at least one individual trustee or staff member more than £150,000 a year in 2015-16. However, it declined to name the individuals or reveal their salaries, despite saying last year that it would do so. 

But Tes has used the list of trusts named by the DfE to compile a full list of the highest-paid employees, and their salaries, based on information in academy trust accounts.

Their combined salaries come to more than £21 million, with almost one in five (19 per cent) of the individuals paid at least £200,000 a year, before their pensions are taken into account.

Salaries range from at least £150,000 a year to the £420,000-£425,000 that Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation, is paid.

Sir Dan’s overall package is approaching half a million pounds a year once his pension contributions of £50,000-55,000 are taken into account.

However, many of the academy bosses now earning more than the prime minister are from far smaller trusts, some of which run just one school.

Simon Barber, the principal of Carshalton Boys Sports College, who earns at least £195,000 a year, is one example. Another is Michael McKenzie, headteacher of Alexandra Park School in London, who earns at least £155,000, according to trust accounts.

The extent to which academy trusts are paying large six figure salaries comes amid mounting concern over the levels of remuneration of academy bosses.

Earlier this year national schools commissioner Sir David Carter told Tes that having “challenging conversations” about chief executive pay is a “very important” part of the work of the eight regional schools commissioners he oversees.

And in July this year Lord Adonis, who developed the academies policy under New Labour, told Tes“If I had realised that academy principals or trust chief executives were going to be paid sums in excess of £150,000 when I was a minister then I would have intervened to stop it”.

One of the lower paying trusts is the Inspiration Trust, which had education minister Sir Theodore Agnew as its chair of trustees until September this year. The trust runs five primary schools, seven secondary schools and one sixth form in Norfolk and Suffolk.

Its chief executive, Dame Rachel de Souza, is at the bottom end of the top earners, on between £150,000 and £155,000 a year.

There has been a 70 per cent rise in the number of trusts paying at least one person in excess of £150,000 a year, with 121 academy trusts listed as doing so in 2015-16, up from 71 in 2014-15.


1 St Matthew Academy: Academy trust accounts list one individual, who is not identified, in the “£210,001 to £220,000” band. The trustees’ remuneration and expenses section of the accounts states that executive headteacher Michael Barry had remuneration of £120,000-£125,000 and an “additional £90,000 - £95,000”.
2 Ark Schools: Lucy Heller is also managing director of Ark Academies Projects Ltd, Ark UK Programmes, and chief executive of Ark. 50 per cent of her salary is charged to Ark Schools.
3 Ashlawn School Academy Trust (now known as Transforming Lives Educational Trust): Lists one individual (not identified) “in the band £80,001 - £220,000”.
4 Prospect Education (Technology) Trust Limited: Does not disclose identities of "higher paid staff" but states there were “two employees earned in excess of £80,000”. It adds “for reasons of both confidentiality and business sensitivity, the trustees have determined that the actual salary band for these two individuals will not be disclosed”.
5 United Learning Trust: Chief executive Jon Coles is paid by the parent company, United Church Schools Foundation Limited. The parent company's latest accounts do not disclose his salary but lists one individual in the £230,000-240,000 pay bracket.

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

Latest stories