This obsession with academy chiefs’ pay is a bit rich

31st March 2016 at 17:00
Over the coming months, the Secret CEO will be providing insight into the world of power, politics and presentations at the top of education’s pecking order

With an outbreak of academisation sweeping the land, as sure as night follows day, we can expect more pontificating and general chippiness about how much chief executives of multi-academy trusts (MATs) are paid. Don’t get me wrong, I think the high-altitude salaries of the likes of S’Dan and S’Greg are matched only by their own over-inflated sense of self-worth. But at some point – for the love of God – someone needs to have the cojones to call a halt to the endless comparisons with the pay packet of the prime minister.

Let’s get this straight. CEOs of academy chains do not perform the functions that our great leader, Dave, does. They do not lead detailed negotiations about Brexit. Nor do they make life-or-death decisions about whether to deploy troops to some far-flung country. Nor do they have to deal with bitchy spats and in-fighting between flouncing colleagues (hang on, scratch that). But neither do CEOs live in the lap of all-expenses-paid, no-bills luxury in the type of house I’ll never be able to afford. Nor do they go on to make their millions (and millions), once they have stepped down from office, through high-end consultancy, book tours and £50,000-a-pop talks.

And maybe, just maybe, the prime minister isn’t paid enough at the £140,000 mark. Perhaps we ought to say, “You know what, it’s a big job. It’s a hell of a lot of pressure. And, in reality, it’s probably the worst job in the country. Given all of that, maybe he should be paid a salary that is commensurate with the size of the task.” But whether you believe that or not, the tedious comparisons with how much CEOs of MATs are paid is frankly ridiculous.

And yet the self-acclaimed guardians of the profession’s moral compass – the edu-commentariat who are so free and easy with their pearls of wisdom on Twitter and in their columns but have not actually set foot in a classroom for some considerable time – will persist with their self-righteous sanctimony.

Yes, a few CEOs are paid way too much, and have no shame in awarding themselves nose-bleedingly high pay rises. And yes, there are one or two who brazenly take the money while watching their schools crumble further into the sea. But let’s get real about the size of the job that we do, and the number of lives that we touch. When it is done well, the job is more than a match for the salary.

And yes, I am among the top 20 highest paid CEOs – but where? Now that would be telling.

The Secret CEO is the chief executive of a multi-academy trust somewhere in England

This is an article from the 25 March edition of TES. 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

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