Academy chains are wasting money on high executive salaries, smart cars, and branding at a time when teachers are being denied pay rises, a union conference has heard.
Delegates at the NASUWT teaching union’s annual conference today passed a motion supporting campaigning to ensure education funding is used to support teaching and learning, and “not syphoned off for other purposes”.
Proposing the motion, Wendy Exton, a union executive member for the South West, said: “In my own district, for example, there are CEOs earning in excess of the prime minister whilst teachers are being denied any pay rise, and teacher and support staff numbers are being cut.
Quick read: 'No academy CEO should be paid over £250,000'
“I can think of one MAT where staff had not had a pay award since 2014, and when I challenged the CEO about why he was earning a huge salary while his teachers were denied any pay increases, I was told by him ‘because I’m worth it’.”
She also said criticised “the endless branding of everything” in academy trusts, with leaders at one academy trust “all branded out in expensive jackets that all matched”, branded biscuits, and “visits to foreign countries that, paid out of school budgets, where only the CEO attends”.
Alan Jones, a teacher from Birmingham, told the conference: “I was representing a colleague at a MAT and we went to the offices of the MAT and I stood in the car park and said ‘if you want to know where the money in education is going, look around you – look at the cars’.
“I do believe that a lot of the time that’s the place to look, because if you want to find the Jags and BMWs, you need to go to the offices of the MAT and there is where a lot of the money appears to be going.”
The motion also called for the union to continue to campaign for extra money for schools in the government’s upcoming spending review.
However, Luke Akhurst, from Leicestershire, spoke against the call for more money for schools, saying the priority should be to stop existing funding being “misspent” by academy trusts.
He said: “Despite the supposed shortage of money I have seen in Leicestershire in the last year alone chief executives appointed on £250,000, school improvement officers on £100,000. Well, they can’t be that short of money if they can spend that kind of money not on teaching.
“My question is: will the increase be spent on students or more profiteers making money out of the system?”
The motion, entitled "Education funding and austerity", was passed.