Lord Agnew calls on academies to justify 'excessive pay'

The academies minister, Lord Agnew, has called on 28 academy head to justify ‘excessive pay’

Academies minister, Lord Agnew, has written to 28 chairs of academy trustees as part of the government’s commitment to curb ‘excessive’ salaries based on the size, standards, and financial health of trusts.

The academies have been asked to provide more details on the pay of executives who earn more than £150,000 – and those earning £100,000 if two or more people in a school earn a six-figure salary.

Agnew’s request forms part of the government’s requirement for academy trusts to publish high salaries in their accounts, providing a far higher level of public scrutiny than local authority schools, who are not required to prepare individual statutory accounts.

In the letter, which has been sent to fewer than one per cent of academy trusts nationwide, Lord Agnew calls on the chairs to work with the government on the ‘divisive issue’ of high pay, asking them to justify salaries and reassure ministers that that they are not ‘diverting financial resources that could be more effectively deployed on the front line of education’.

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 exactly why I am insistent that the salaries of their executives are justifiable.

“And 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.

“The overwhelming majority of academies are behaving responsibly and by publicly challenging the minority of trusts that are not complying with this request, we will ensure that every pound of public money is spent as effectively as possible to continue improving the standard of education in our schools.”

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