Academy bosses salaries – ‘verging on criminality!’ – while poorly paid teachers are being driven out

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Demonstration against forced academisation and 'fat cat' academy heads

THE NEW NASUWT president is to tell this weekend’s annual conference that trust bosses’ salaries are ‘verging on criminality’.

The NASUWT will call for a national pay scale for all school staff to be reintroduced to curb excessive pay.

Academy trust bosses in England are being paid ‘eye-watering’ salaries that are ‘verging on criminality’, according to the incoming president of one of the country’s leading teaching unions.

Phil Kemp, the new national president of the NASUWT, will accuse some academy leaders of taking advantage of the increasing deregulation of the education system to pay themselves excessive sums of money from the public purse.

In a speech on Friday, on the first day of the union’s annual conference, which is being held virtually this year because of the Covid pandemic, Kemp is expected to criticise academy governance, saying: ‘Increasingly we hear of corrupt or nepotistic practices.’

He will say: ‘The salaries being paid to individuals in some of these academy trusts is not just eye-watering, it’s verging on criminality in my view.

‘So many salaries, paid for from the public purse, rise over the £200,000 mark, and some are well publicised, almost reaching half a million pounds.’

Kemp, who manages a programme of alternative provision in North Tyneside for children who have been or are in danger of being excluded from mainstream education, will call for a national pay scale for all teachers and leaders to be reintroduced to curb excessive pay.

‘The snouts have to come out of the trough and the public purse protected from those who will take advantage of the increasing deregulation of our education system,’ he will tell members. ‘Those taking these huge salaries should hang their heads in shame.’

Multi-academy trusts are charities that run chains of state schools that have converted into academies and have been taken out of local authority control.

In 2019, the Department for Education (DfE) wrote to 94 trust leaders whose pay was regarded as excessively high to ask them to justify their inflated salaries, but excessive pay continues to be a concern and unions say the government’s powers to intervene are ‘utterly feeble’.

Research by the Times Educational Supplement last month found that at least seven senior leaders within academy trusts were earning more than £250,000, while Sir Dan Moynihan, the chief executive of the Harris Federation, remains the top earner with his salary increasing to between £455,000 and £460,000 in 2019-20.

While the focus over the last year has been on the challenges of the pandemic to education, last month the education secretary, Gavin Williamson, revealed the government was pursuing its academies agenda and wanted to see more schools in multi-academy trusts by 2025. The DfE has been approached for comment.

The NASUWT has also released figures showing that members were paid almost £12m in compensation last year, among them a primary school teacher from Cheshire who was awarded more than £150,000 after she was assaulted by one of her pupils.

In another case, a whistleblower was dismissed after raising concerns about bullying and intimidation of staff, as well as child protection issues, at her school. The deputy headteacher in the school in the north-west of England was awarded £60,000 for unfair and wrongful dismissal. Separately, more than £8,000 was paid out for three cases involving breaches of maternity rights.

Dr Patrick Roach, the NASUWT general secretary, said the cases were just the tip of the iceberg: ‘There is no doubt that many other teachers will have been driven out of the profession without proper redress for poor, discriminatory or unfair treatment because they were too fearful to come forward or believed nothing could be done.’