Letter: Excessive pay at academies

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A few weeks ago, the WSCT kindly printed my letter on the ‘WorthLess’ Campaign. The campaign being promoted by all the headteachers in West Sussex to highlight the lack of funds that are crippling our local schools.

Last week, MPs on the public accounts committee (PAC) published a hard-hitting report that suggests that ‘unjustifiably high salaries in academy trusts were depriving cash-strapped schools of vital funds for children’s education’.

Academy accounts for 2015/16 have revealed more than 100 cases of CEOs being paid salaries in excess of £150,000, in one case £420,000.

The committee were also disturbed that in two-thirds of cases where the government challenged these salaries, the academy trusts were not able to provide satisfactory responses.

With the financial pressures on schools growing, the Public Accounts Committee accused the DfE of not doing enough to exercise a strict control over the amounts the CEOs of Academy Trusts are being paid.

Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “While most schools face brutal budget cuts, and teachers are experiencing real term pay cuts, this report confirms what we have long known; that some academy trusts appear to be using public money to pay excessive salaries.”

The rules governing the financial arrangements of Academy Trusts lack robustness and the Conservative Party’s obsession with Academisation has allowed this to happen.

In 2010 the Liberal Democrats lobbied against this key plank of government education policy and at the 2017 conference Howard Sykes, the vice-chair of the Liberal Democrat LGA group, told the event: “Academies in particular don’t have to co-operate at all with local authorities, or share any information. As bad as that was when [schools] first became academies, it has got worse since they joined federations of academies, because that’s where they look to and that’s where their loyalty is.”

We must help our local schools who are not in an Academy Trust to receive the funds that their pupils deserve.

Dr Lesley Hendy

Governor of a local Primary School, Comptons Lane, Horsham