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New DfE threat to academy chiefs' 'exponential' pay rises

Academy trusts, already under ministerial pressure to ensure CEO pay rises do not outstrip teachers', are told to take previous largesse into account

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Academy trusts, already under ministerial pressure to ensure CEO pay rises do not outstrip teachers', are told to take previous largesse into account

Large pay rises for academy chiefs could be consigned to history if trusts respond to increased pressure for restraint from the Department for Education.

Education minister Lord Agnew today said academy trusts should compare the pay rises of teachers and the pay rises of non teaching leaders over a number of years when setting senior pay.

Speaking at an Education Policy Institute’s conference, he echoed education secretary, Damian Hinds’ criticism of high CEO pay last month.

Lord Agnew said: “This is public money, and frankly if a MAT chief executive is being paid more than the prime minister, this should only be in circumstance of exceptional performance and leadership."

The peer had previously told MPs that percentage pay rises for academy leaders should not outstrip pay awards for teachers.

Today, he added that when academy trusts make this comparison, they should consider more than just one year's pay rise.

He said: "We want to be very clear about our expectations on the highest pay for all schools, not just academies.

"There’s no doubt that our school system has many, many great leaders and for large and complex organisations pay must reflect the scale of the task.

"However, pay needs to be proportionate. I’m clear that the pay rises for non-teaching management should not exceed those awarded to teaching staff.

"And when considering what’s fair, trusts and boards should not just compare pay rises over a single year but look and compare over a number of years."

His comments come after the Education and Skills Funding Agency sent a series of letters to academy trusts with highly-paid members of staff ordering them to justify these salaries.

Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: “It’s very good that the government has belatedly got concerned about MAT CEO pay. It’s taken a long time.

“In that time, we have seen in some MATs an exponential rise in CEO pay while teachers have had austerity pay rates of 1 per cent of 2 per cent at the most.”

However, she added: “What they haven’t got is any legal means to do anything about it. They can haul them in. They can tell them off, but they can’t make them do pay cuts.”

Lord Agnew added that the government wanted to be “very clear about our expectations about the highest paid in all schools, not just academies”.

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