Minister: Academy trustees ‘not rigorous enough’ on CEO pay

Academy trust boards are “not being rigorous enough” in curbing excessive pay of senior leaders, the academies minister Theodore Agnew has said.

Lord Agnew has written to chairs of academy trust boards urging them to take their financial responsibilities seriously, and not to over-reward trust bosses.

In particular he said the salaries of non-teaching senior leaders should not rise at a faster rate than for classroom staff.

“I would not expect the pay of a CEO or other non-teaching staff to increase faster than the pay award for teachers.”

Agnew, who formerly chaired the Inspiration multi-academy trust, warned that Eileen Milner, chief executive at the Education Skills and Funding Agency, would soon be writing to multi-academy trusts if an employee was earning more than £150,000.

Such a letter would go out to most of the larger multi-academy trusts, such as Harris Federation, whose chief executive Dan Moynihan got a £20,000 pay rise to at least £440,000.

Milner has already written to single academy trusts on the same issue, and will be following up with larger chains “shortly”, according to Agnew’s letter.

He added he did not believe enough boards were being rigorous enough on the issue of high CEO pay.

CEO pay should also be reduced if the performance of schools in a trust “declined over several years,” said Agnew.

“I want to emphasise the priority that I attached to the responsibility you and your boards have to ensure that your executive teams manage their budgets effectively, and deliver the best value for money.”


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  1. Mark Watson

    Whilst I agree completely that Boards should be challenged about why they are paying high salaries (whether £150k is the threshold or another figure) I think trying to tie salary increases of senior leaders in the MAT to teaching staff is wrong. If a MAT grows from 5 schools to 20 schools then the job of a teacher in an individual school doesn’t change, but the job of the CEO and Finance Director (and others) will change dramatically. It certainly doesn’t mean the salaries should increase fourfold, but measurable increase would be expected.
    The issue of linking CEO pay to performance is interesting. Are we talking about performance related pay – if pay decreases linked to poor performance, does it increase with good performance?

  2. Sir Theodore is still involved with Inspiration Trust. Accounts for year-ending 31 August 2017 list him as a ‘member’. Members employ the trustees.
    The accounts also show that one person at Inspiration earns more than £150k. It appears Sir Theodore will be sending a letter to a trust where he’s still involved.

    • Mark Watson

      I think the article makes very clear that it is Eileen Milner of the ESFA who will be writing to multi-academy trusts, not Theodore Agnew.
      Theodore Agnew is a Trustee as well as a Member of Inspiration Trust, so yes he will be being asked to justify why RDS is being paid £150-£155k.
      And why not? Would you prefer Inspiration Trust was not treated the same as other MATs?

      • Mark – it’s true Milner is to write to trusts – Agnew is warning about it. Sir Theodore resigned as chair of Inspiration but you’re right he’s still a director.
        I was pointing out the irony of ESFA sending a letter to Inspiration not suggesting it shouldn’t happen. Unfortunately, irony doesn’t appear to work in comments under articles. Perhaps we need an emoticon to denote such irony.