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More academy trusts told to justify paying leaders over £100k

DfE sends letters to academies paying two or more salaries between £100,000 and £150,000

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DfE sends letters to academies paying two or more salaries between £100,000 and £150,000

The government has written to more academy trusts asking them to justify the large salaries they pay their employees.

In the latest of a string of letters sent to trusts, the chairs of academies paying two or more salaries between £100,000 and £150,000 in 2015-16 have been contacted.

The letter from Eileen Milner, Education and Skills Funding Agency chief executive, says: "You are one of a very small number of trusts in this position – fewer than 3 per cent of all trusts pay more than one salary in this bracket. I am writing to you in your capacity as chair of trustees to request further information on your process and rationale for setting these levels of salaries."

It adds: "You will be aware that there has been considerable scrutiny over taxpayer-funded executive salaries in recent months. Whilst I recognise the excellent work that is carried out in many trusts to deliver high-quality education to children, trusts have a responsibility to ensure value for money and that salary payments are transparent, proportionate, reasonable and justifiable."

'Depriving the frontline of vital funds'

The letter asks for information on the roles and responsibilities of the individuals concerned, including the "level of challenge" they face; for example, whether their schools are in the government's "opportunity areas".

In February the Education and Skills Funding Agency wrote to the chairs of 87 multi-academy trusts employing individuals earning more than £150,000, asking them to explain their rationale for doing so. 

And in December it wrote to single-academy trusts paying leaders more than £150,000.

The latest intervention follows a report published by the Commons Public Accounts Committee last month, which urged the Department for Education to act over "excessive" academy salaries that "deprive the frontline of vital funds".

The committee found that too many academies were falling short on financial and governance standards, and said the DfE was often "too slow to react" to these failings.

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