Academy trust behind four East Anglian schools ordered to justify six-figure salaries
PUBLISHED: 16:56 05 February 2019 | UPDATED: 21:31 05 February 2019
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A north Suffolk academy trust has been ordered to justify the high salaries of its top-paid staff.
The Hartismere Family of Schools, based in Eye, is one of 28 academy trusts which will be compelled to justify salaries over £100,000 in a crackdown on “excessive” pay in schools.
Academies minister Lord Agnew has written to the trusts’ chairs of trustees as part of a government commitment to curb salaries seen as excessive in relation to the size, standards and financial health of the trusts.
Lord Agnew, who helped found the Norwich-based academies group the Inspiration Trust, said the government was not afraid to “call out” schools it believed were overpaying staff.
Hartismere Family of Schools includes Hartismere School, a secondary school and sixth form college in Eye, as well as the Benjamin Britten Academy of Music and Mathematics in Lowestoft, Woods Loke Primary School in Oulton Broad and Somerleyton Primary School.
The trust’s accounts for the year to August 31, 2018 show it had one member of staff paid between £100,001 and £200,000, and a further five paid between £60,001 and £100,000.
It and the other 27 trusts in question have been asked to provide details on the pay of executives who earn more than £150,000, and those earning £100,000 if two or more people in the trust are paid a six-figure salary.
The government requires academy trusts to publish high salaries in their accounts to allow a higher level of public scrutiny, as part of efforts to make academy trusts more accountable for the money they spend.
According to the Department for Education, fewer than one in 25 of trusts pay two or more salaries between £100,000 and £150,000.
More than 50pc of pupils in state-funded education in England are now studying at an academy or free school.
Lord Agnew said: “Academies are raising standards in schools across the country – replacing underperforming council-run schools in some of the most disadvantaged areas and helping young people to raise their aspirations through a better standard of education.
“The best academies place freedom in the hands of school leaders but with that autonomy comes greater accountability and transparency, which is why I am insistent that the salaries of their executives are justifiable.
“Just because we are advocates of the academies programme doesn’t mean we won’t call a trust out where we believe they are not acting responsibly.”
In the push for fairer senior pay at academy trusts, the Education and Skills Funding Agency has so far written to the chairs of 213 academy trusts – 45 of which have since reduced salaries