The leader of the largest primary academy chain in the country has insisted he provides value for money for his salary.
REAch2's chief executive officer Sir Steve Lancashire was paid £240,000 to £250,000 in 2016-17, according to the most recent financial accounts, including a one-off bonus from the previous year.
In an interview with Tes, he said: “You have got to be able to look at yourself in the mirror and say, ‘Do I give value for money for what I earn?’
“I can look myself in the mirror and I can think to myself, ‘You are responsible for 20,000 children, you have taken 60 schools, 17 per cent of which were ‘good’, and now towards 80 per cent of them are ‘good’. REAch2 has a £120 million turnover, it has an estate worth £0.5 billion’.
“I do it to the absolute best of my ability and I can look myself in the face in the morning and say, ‘Yes, you give value for money.’”
Sir Steve founded the REAch2 academy trust in 2012 after building a reputation for turning around troubled schools.
He said England’s academy sponsors need to recognise their moral duty to help schools in dire straits, including the so-called “untouchable” schools.
He said: “This is where, as some of the country’s largest sponsors, we need to do more. There is no doubt about that,” he said.
He added: “Our board is very clear that we have got a moral responsibility, and while the due diligence might say [certain schools] shouldn't be in our trust, it’s about the 64 kids in that school and they should be in our trust, so they are in our trust.”
For him, some of the responsibility lies with the Department for Education, by recognising that it is more costly to support schools in remote locations or with entrenched problems.
He said: “We’ll play our bit, but actually you do need to be sensible about that and say, ‘That’s going to cost a lot of money and we need to find, from the public purse, some way to do that.’”
This is an edited article from the 22 June edition of Tes. Subscribers can read the full article here. To subscribe, click here. This week's Tes magazine is available in all good newsagents. To download the digital edition, Android users can click here and iOS users can click here.