Head of Sunderland academy trust denies claims of staff earning up to £150,000

Bosses at a Sunderland academy trust have denied anyone earns £150,000 following Department of Education accusations.

Tuesday, 5th February 2019, 15:28 pm
Updated Thursday, 7th February 2019, 16:45 pm
Southmoor Academy.

The Department of Education said today it had ordered 28 academy trusts, including Southmoor Academy, to justify salaries of more than £100,000.

It said the move was part of the Government's drive to ensure pay in schools matches individual responsibilities and the standard of education on offer.

Dr Phil Ingram, CEO of the Southmoor Academy Trust.

Academies Minister Lord Agnew has written to 28 chairmen of trustees today as part of the Government’s commitment to curb ‘excessive’ salaries based on the size, standards, and financial health of trusts.

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This includes Southmoor Academy, in Sunderland, which has 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.

But, Dr Phil Ingram, CEO of the Southmoor Multi-Academy Trust, which also operates Sandhill View Academy, said the figures are wrong and no-one earns anywhere near those figures.

He said: "No employee of Southmoor Academy Trust is currently paid anywhere near £150,000 per year.

"We informed the DfE of this fact some time ago, but they seem to be continuing to use outdated information."

Lord 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 1% of academy trusts nationwide, Lord Agnew calls on the trusts 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”.

This is the latest step taken by the Department for Education to bear down on academy trusts that pay excessive salaries and ensure they are more accountable for the money they spend, bringing them in line with the overwhelming majority of academy trusts – fewer than 4% of trusts pay two or more salaries between £100k-£150k.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Schools System 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 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."