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Single-school head becomes second boss to break £300k salary barrier

'I believe in leaders being paid well, but there has to be moderation'

'I believe in leaders being paid well, but there has to be moderation'

21 Mar 2022, 9:33

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The head of a single-school trust has become only the second academy chief executive to break the £300,000 salary barrier, while another well-paid boss secured a £19,000 pay rise.

The news comes as the National Governance Association (NGA) launches a salary benchmarking tool, saying many boards struggle to get hold of high-quality data when setting executive pay.

The Thomas Telford School in Shropshire and Brampton Manor Trust in east London were “named and shamed” by the government after receiving letters warning them over executive pay in 2017 and 2018 respectively.

But accounts show that the pay of Thomas Telford’s employee rose to between £300,001 and £310,000 in the year to last September. It makes head Sir Kevin Satchwell the second academy trust boss to pass the £300,000 mark. 

The pay of Dayo Olukoshi, executive principal at two-school Brampton Manor, rose from £252,136 to £271,360 in 2020-21. Olukoshi, who was the country’s fifth-best paid academy chief executive last year, has now had 8 per cent pay rises two years running.

Ministers have proposed pay rises for experienced teachers of 3 per cent next year.

Dr Mary Bousted, co-general secretary of the NEU, said: “For every charismatic, wonderful leader, it’s important to remember evidence shows it is good teachers who deliver excellent results.

“I believe in leaders being paid well, but there has to be moderation. You can’t have their [teachers’] pay held at 2 or 3 per cent and CEO pay go through the roof.”

Salary is second only to Harris boss

Satchwell’s salary is second only to Sir Dan Moynihan’s £450,000 a year at the Harris Federation, which was frozen in 2020-21. Another unnamed Harris employee earned at least £300,000.

Satchwell was one of only three of the 10 best-paid leaders running fewer than 20 schools in Schools Week’s CEO pay league table last year. The average was 31 schools. Harris has 51.

While leading a single-school trust, Satchwell does also oversee the five-school Thomas Telford Multi-Academy Trust as an “executive adviser” without extra pay.

The Thomas Telford School has previously topped national GCSE league tables. The City of London-backed school also has the highest reserves of any academy.

Brampton Manor Academy is also regularly praised for securing more Oxbridge offers than Eton in a deprived part of east London. Both trusts were approached for comment.

Holland Park School was the only other small trust with a chief executive among the 10 best-paid last year.

Colin Hall continued to earn between £280,001 and £290,000 in 2020-21, but he has now left after the “socialist Eton” was ordered to rein in executive pay last November.

NGA plans benchmarking tool

Geoff Barton, general secretary of school leaders’ union ASCL, said pay awards typically reflected trusts’ different sizes and challenges, with trustees considering fairness and affordability “very carefully”.

Sector leaders have previously warned that decision-makers lack detailed data to inform executive pay awards. Next week the NGA will unveil a partnership with data firm Pay in Education to offer benchmarking tools to members.

academy salary
Emma Knights

“A very small minority of outlier trusts paying excessive salaries have been distorting the public perception of how the sector uses public money for some time,” said NGA chief executive Emma Knights.

Data that lets governors compare pay for “similar-sized organisations working in a similar context” will help the sector to “manage executive pay responsibly”.

Meanwhile, the Department for Education’s wider crackdown on “excessive” trust pay remains under review. No trusts have received letters since 2020, when officials retracted them over data errors and announced a rethink.

Officials were awaiting 2021 accounts to confirm next steps, but they are yet to do so since the accounts deadline 52 days ago. The DfE was asked for comment.



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