Academy CEO pay: Salaries soar for (some) academy bosses – while teachers inch up 1 per cent

The heads of some of the country’s largest academy chains have pocketed pay rises totalling more than £80,000 this year – despite a 1 per cent cap on pay increases for their teachers.

A Schools Week investigation reveals that four chief executives received salary increases of at least £20,000 in the past 12 months.

Professor Toby Salt of Ormiston Academies Trust got a £30,000 boost from £150,000 to £180,000, while Sir Daniel Moynihan (Harris Federation), Karen Roberts (TKAT) and John Murphy (Oasis Community Learning) received £20,000 each.

The pay of other chief executives of the 13 chains that operate more than 20 schools stayed on the same level, except David Moran of E-ACT who dropped by £8,500 after the chain lost 10 schools, and John Mannix of Plymouth CAST, who moved up by £1,000.

Click on the image for a larger version


Our analysis of the 2014/15 accounts of these 13 chains also shows a huge disparity in the salary of chief executives and the number of schools they run, leading to accusations from one union head that the academy system is “dysfunctional and completely unaccountable”.

After our analysis, we produced two tables, one showing the per-school cost and one showing the pay per good or outstanding school (right).

Sir Daniel was again the highest paid chief executive with a £395,000 salary, more than £10,000 per school.

That compares to just £2,429 per school for Mr Mannix, the lowest paid, who takes home £85,000.

Professor Salt’s pay rise works out at more than £6,000 per school.

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, who described the system as “dysfunctional and completely unaccountable”, said teachers would feel aggrieved at the “completely unjust state of affairs”.

She added: “Pay deregulation and the implementation of market reforms have predictably resulted in these massive disparities, with soaring salaries for some CEOs while teachers have suffered a
pay freeze.

“It is totally illogical given the crisis in teacher recruitment and retention.”

Sir Daniel now earns more than two-and-a-half times the salary of prime minister David Cameron.

A spokesperson said all 25 of Harris’s academies that have been inspected since the trust took over have been rated good or outstanding.

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“Just one of these joined the federation with a ‘good’ rating. Many of the others were very challenging schools but have, without exception, been transformed.”

Mr Mannix said there was “muddled thinking” about roles in education that were above headteachers.

He would not be drawn on specific examples, but said: “The current variation in senior pay is understandable while a new system and a new way of thinking about education responsibilities beds in.”

Only time would tell “what value society ought to put on this role”.

An Ormiston spokesperson said Professor Salt’s salary was increased after a review and market benchmarking to “take into account the excellent job he does as chief executive of a large academy trust that has never shied away from taking on some of the toughest challenges in education”.

Click on the image for a larger version


Schools Week found further disparities when the number of good or outstanding schools in each trust’s stable is taken into consideration.

Sir Steve Lancashire topped this table – earning nearly £25,000 for each of REAch2’s nine good or outstanding schools.

That compared to £5,769 for the 39 good or outstanding schools run by Ian Comfort’s Academies Enterprise Trust (AET).

But a REAch2 spokesperson said more than two-thirds of the trust’s schools have yet to be inspected, adding: “Of those that have, 80 per cent – which prior to joining
the REAch2 family were failing – are now good or outstanding.”

Mr Comfort remained on a minimum salary of £225,000 for the year. AET – England’s largest multi-academy trust with 67 schools – was criticised by Ofsted last month for failing too many
pupils and handed over eight schools last year after concerns about their “geographic isolation”.

A spokesperson said the number of good or outstanding academies in the trust had doubled to 64 per cent in two years and Mr Comfort had headed “significant improvements” since taking the role in 2013.

Malcolm Trobe, the interim general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said salary levels were set by factors including the value-for-money the chief executives provided, and could be offset by the saving an academy chain could bring, such as group discounts for contracts.

“It is important that individual trusts have autonomy over pay policies in order to take account of their specific circumstances.

“Strong and effective leadership of multi-academy trusts is essential and salaries have to be commensurate.”

 Credit: Ofsted inspection data from was used as part of this analysis

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    • Mark Watson

      Hmmmm, a quick look on the Guardian jobs website shows London Borough of Enfield is currently advertising for a new Director of Children’s Services. Base salary of £138,000 plus up to 10% performance related pay (which would come to a total of over £150,000). Not as much as the highest paid CEOs, but on a par with most of the salaries referred to in this article. With the exception of Daniel Moynihan, the maximum salary referred to in this article is £225,000 which is less than one and a half times what London Borough of Enfield is offering (and I can’t believe they are the highest paying local authority out there). Rather then hyberbole, why not find out some of the facts?

  1. Joseph Dunn

    No wonder teachers feel very angry.When will society come to realise that the REAL action in education is and always will be in the classroom.Teachers need a big boost in pay.Paying people at the top is fine but not at the expense of all teachers who shape the hearts and minds of the adults of tomorrow.This will only hasten the exodus of what is already a very serious problem in the UK.

  2. Tim Woodcock

    It is completely unacceptable and I would question the morals of any leader accepting pay rises when they fail to give the same rewards to the teachers and other school support staff. Success in a school is a team effort if you fail to reward the whole team you will ultimately suffer from a high turn over of staff and low moral which cannot be an indicator of success.

  3. Catherine

    Pity that the person writing this article failed to say “compared with” instead of “compared to”. Maybe that person needs to return to school for a basic grammar lesson!!!!

    • So what is your point Catherine? the article is about how public funds are being spent by uaccountable bodies. I’d rather have public money being spent appropriately by people who make grammatical mistakes rather than excellent grammar being used by people who are overpaid. Evidence shows that local authorities have a better record of helping schools improve than academy chains.

      • The pedant’s curse strikes again. It appears analysis of construction trumps the article’s message. Unfortunately, this strategy is often used by those who wish to draw attention away from what the author is saying (the ridiculous Bad Grammar Award given to the academics who said the new National Curriculum was ‘too much, too soon’ is an example).
        That said, the objection to ‘compared to’ is false. Oxford Dictionaries says ‘in general terms either preposition is correct’.
        Oliver Kamm’s excellent book ‘Accidence will Happen: The non-pedantic guide to English use’ is an excellent antidote to nitpicking pedantry. Summer reading, perhaps?

      • I totally agree with you, Jim, comments about faulty grammar are highly inappropriate, especially in this climate.
        I am wondering how people like academy CEOs can not be ashamed of themselves when they get these HUGE salaries while making decisions and putting things into place that take away badly needed funding from students and teachers.
        Could they decide to “just” earn an appropriate salary and let their schools benefit from the remaining money?

        Having just watched in “School” on the BBC iPlayer how the CEO of C set MAT tells staff at one of “his” schools that they have to cut £1,000,000 – I am wondering how much he is actually taking home each year?

        It’s appalling to see students and staff suffering while the people in charge get richer … and even mess up their jobs in many occasions. APPALLING1

  4. These people have huge accountabilities and run academies with budgets totalling many millions of pounds. They have often taken on the most damaged schools that LA’s have failed to move forward for 80+ years. If we want the very best in the profession to deliver then these salaries, commensurate with businesses running with the same budgets and accountabilities, aren’t disproportionate. Plus, unlike business leaders, these guys pay full tax and NI contributions as they’ll be PAYE and have their salaries published. The PMs salary published and always used as a comparator does not include benefits, expenses and the sponsorship/ book deals which make him/ her a millionaire.

    • Michael

      Matt is right the responsibility and accountability levels are very high. As is the risk! Comparisons with DCS at Local Authorities is totally unrealistic as they have no real responsibility as the legal responsibilities lie with Governors. Sound bites around the Prime Ministers salary create emotion but are not really relevant as many CEOs in the private and public sector earn much more.

      The important point is that salaries should be linked to added value and effectiveness. Sometimes this is not as clear as it should be.

      • Matt – isn’t it rather an exaggeration to say there are ‘damaged schools’ which LAs haven’t improved since 1936? Much has happened in English education during that time including the Education Act 1944, the move towards comprehensive schools, LA reorganisation, raising of the school leaving age, the introduction of GCSEs, opening, closure and reorganisation of schools, introduction of academies… It would be difficult to find any school which had remained unchanged in 80+ years never mind one which was ‘damaged’ for that period of time.

  5. A £30k boost for Ormiston’s CEO after ‘benchmarking’? But only one of the four Ormiston academies inspected in 2016 was Good, one requires improvement and two were Inadequate. One of the latter was Ormiston Six Villages. Its predecessor school, Westergate Community School, was Requires Improvement. Monitoring in September 2013 before Westergate was taken over by Ormiston said ‘swift’ action had been taken to address concerns, the LA had an accurate view of the school’s strengths and areas of improvement, and had provided some useful strategic support.
    To be fair to Ormiston, monitoring this month of Ormiston Six Villages says Ormiston has taken ‘swift and incisive action’ to address concerns. But swift action was being taken before the school became an academy. Rather than building on this it appears the school went backwards and swift action needs to be reapplied.
    This raises the question why Westergate needed to be converted – it was RI and taking action. A cynic might say any academy sponsor could build on this improvement and subsequently claim any rise in Ofsted judgement or results was solely down to them. This was what happened at Downhills, now Harris Primary Academy Philip Lane.

    • Mark Watson

      You ask why Westergate needed to be converted and say that “it was RI and taking action”. Having had a quick look on the Ofsted website this school was rated by Ofsted as RI (or the equivalent rating) in May 2013, November 2009, September 2006 and March 2003. That is as far back as the website shows the reports, but the 2003 report seems to say that the previous report in March 1997 wasn’t any better.
      So as a minimum, West Sussex County Council had over ten years to improve the school (more likely at least sixteen years) and according to Ofsted they hadn’t done so. How much longer would you have liked to give the Council to turn things around?
      I am not defending Ormiston (their salaries or the way they manage schools) in any way, and I agree that awarding pay increases when performance has dropped is not the right way to do things, but let’s not kid ourselves that everything was rosy when LAs ran all the schools.