Revealed – the Suffolk academy trusts paying salaries over £150,000
- Credit: Peter A Cook/Felixstowe Academy
Academy leaders have come under fire as new figures reveal seven trusts with schools in Suffolk pay salaries in excess of £150,000.
The data from the Department for Education (DfE) shows four of the trusts paid one employee over £200,000 in 2016/17, while the highest recorded pay packet was roughly 10 times the typical salary of a young teacher – at between £240,000 and £250,000.
Meanwhile, nearly half of academies managed by the trusts have Ofsted ratings of ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’ – suggesting they are struggling to meet demands.
While the DfE data does not distinguish between salaries in 2016 and 2017, financial records published by the trusts themselves indicate the number of staff in each pay bracket per calendar year.
Academies Enterprise Trust, which runs two ‘inadequate’ schools in Felixstowe – Langer Primary and Felixstowe Academy, paid one staff member more than £200,000 in 2017, while two further employees took home salaries between £150,000 and £200,000.
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REACH2 Academy Trust also forked out more than £200,000 for just one pay packet in 2017 – despite four of its six Suffolk schools receiving an Oftsed rating of either ‘requires improvement’ or ‘inadequate’.
The other trusts paying salaries of more than £150,000 in 2016/17 were Academy Transformation Trust, Hartismere Family of Schools, Inspiration Trust and Ormiston Academies Trust. Academy Transformation Trust and Ormiston Academies Trust control struggling academies such as Westbourne Academy, Ormiston Denes, and Stoke High School.
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Graham White, spokesman for the Suffolk division of the National Education Union, called the figures “totally unacceptable”.
“I am an outspoken critic of academies,” he said. “It is a really poor use of money and at the same time they are not improving schools at all.”
Speaking about the salaries at the top end of the scale, he added: “They can pay themselves virtually whatever they want. £240,000 – you can get 10 teachers for that. How many teaching assistants could you get for £240,000? I know what most parents would rather have.”
Mr White also claimed that Felixstowe Academy, one of the two ‘inadequate’ schools in Suffolk managed by the Academies Enterprise Trust, had “gone downhill” since becoming an academy.
“It is worse performing now than it was when it was a local authority school,” he said. “Academies were supposed to improve standards – clearly they are not.”
Felixstowe Academy was rated ‘requires improvement’ by Ofsted in both 2013 and 2015. Earlier this year it was revealed the school had been deemed ‘inadequate’ and put into special measures.
With just a handful of secondary schools still controlled by the council, Mr White said he envisaged a “bleak” future for education in Suffolk.
“I really despair for schools that are left,” he said. “We have to reverse the trend. We have to change this thinking that academies are the right way forward – we have to stop academisation. We need local authority schools and local authority control and responsibility.
“I will remain a fierce critic of Suffolk County Council but by the same token they are in a really difficult position because the central government is not funding them properly.
“Every child matters, so let’s actually deliver on that.”
Which trusts pay £150,000-plus salaries?
• Academies Enterprise Trust
Langer Primary Academy, Felixstowe (Inadequate)
Felixstowe Academy, Felixstowe (Inadequate)
• Academy Transformation Trust
Beck Row Primary Academy, Beck Row (No current report; Pre-academy: Inadequate)
Great Heath Academy, Mildenhall (Good)
Mildenhall College Academy, Mildenhall (Good)
Westbourne Academy, Ipswich (Requires Improvement)
• Hartismere Family of Schools
Woods Loke Primary School, Lowestoft (No current report; Pre-academy: Good)
Benjamin Britten Academy of Music and Mathematics, Lowestoft (No current report; Pre-academy: Inadequate)
Hartismere School, Eye (Outstanding)
• Inspiration Trust
East Point Academy, Lowestoft (Good)
• Ormiston Academies Trust
Ormiston Denes Academy, Lowestoft (Requires Improvement)
Ormiston Endeavour Academy, Ipswich (Good)
Ormiston Sudbury Academy, Sudbury (Good)
Stoke High School - Ormiston Academy, Ipswich (Requires Improvement)
• Paradigm Multi-Academy Trust
Ipswich Academy, Ipswich (Requires Improvement)
Murrayfield Primary Academy, Ipswich (No current report; Pre-academy: Inadequate)
Piper’s Vale Primary Academy, Ipswich (No current report; Pre-academy: Requires Improvement)
• REACH2 Academy Trust
Beccles Primary Academy, Beccles (Requires Improvement)
Gunton Primary Academy, Lowestoft (Good)
Martlesham Primary Academy, Martlesham (Good)
Northfield St Nicholas Primary Academy, Lowestoft (Requires Improvement)
Phoenix St Peter Academy, Lowestoft (Requires Improvement)
Sprites Primary Academy, Ipswich (Inadequate)
What do the trusts have to say?
Many of the trusts defended their pay records on the grounds they had significant boosted the quality of education at their respective academies.
James Goffin, spokesman for Inspiration Trust said: “The Inspiration Trust has twice been ranked the country’s top comprehensive schools group for pupil progress to GCSE, and in Suffolk we have taken East Point Academy in Lowestoft from special measures to being a leader in the county and in the top 6% of schools nationally.
“We think it is right to recognise the work of school leaders in helping children receive an excellent education whilst being careful with public funds, and our senior pay remains considerably below that of many other much smaller academy trusts.”
A spokesman for Academy Transformation Trust said: “We are a national provider of education, working in 22 academies, and are incredibly proud of the work we do every day to transform the life chances of the 11,000 students in our schools, while being committed to raising standards even higher.
“Overall, more than 80% of our schools that have been inspected are rated ‘Good’ or better by Ofsted, above the national average, and in Suffolk, 80% are rated ‘Good’ or better, also above the national average.”
A spokeswoman for Ormiston Academies added: “More than three quarters of OAT’s schools are rated ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’. Our primary academies are ranked among the best in the country, our secondaries are improving, and we are proud to have been delivering a high-quality education to students in Suffolk, and East Anglia more widely, for many years.
“In Suffolk, Ormiston Sudbury Academy was again confirmed as a ‘Good’ school in April following an Ofsted inspection, while Ormiston Endeavour Academy is also rated ‘Good’.
“Ormiston Denes Academy celebrated record GCSE results last year, achieving one of the highest rates of improvement in English and mathematics in the country, and maintained its good performance this year. Earlier this year, Ofsted rated leadership and management at Stoke High School as ‘Good’, and praised the academy for raising standards.”
A spokeswoman for Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) said: “When the current senior team joined the organisation, AET was facing significant challenges both educationally and financially. Since then – under new leadership – virtually everything about the organisation has changed: leadership, governance, financial controls, school improvement and curriculum support.
“These changes are now starting to make a tangible difference on the ground: three-quarters of AET’s academies are now rated as ‘Good’ or ‘Outstanding’ by Ofsted, which compares to just a quarter when these schools joined AET.
“As a whole, the trust’s primary schools have seen an impressive leap in their results for the second year running, and the secondary schools are seeing some strong performances at GCSE, A Level and BTECs.
“Whilst the school improvement journey is by no means complete, the progress made over just two years is considerable.”
The spokeswoman also clarified that senior staff pay is determined by the board’s remuneration committee.
This was reiterated by the spokespeople for both Academy Transformation Trust and Ormiston Academies.
The spokesman for Academy Transformation Trust said: “All pay and remuneration across the trust is set by the trust board after benchmarking and taking into account DfE guidance. We are an organisation which takes transparency very seriously and we publish pay of senior staff.”
The spokeswoman for Ormiston Academies added: “Pay of our senior staff is set by the board following a review and market benchmarking, and takes into account their performance as leaders of a large academy trust operating 37 academies educating 28,000 students in deprived areas across the country.”
Despite official government records showing that it had employed at least one person with a salary in excess of £150,000 in 2016/17, the CEO of Hartismere Family of Schools denied that this had ever been the case.
Mr McAtear said: “No member of staff received a salary in excess of £150,000 in either 2016 or 2017. No member of staff currently receives a salary in excess of £150,000.”
REACH2 Academy Trust did not respond to a request for comment.
Paradigm Multi-Academy Trust also features in the list of organisations which have paid staff in excess of £150,000 – however in this case the salary refers to the former CEO Amanda Phillips, who died in May 2017.
Mrs Phillips, who had been made a CBE, was the chief executive of the trust which runs three academies across the county.
She died after suffering a fall while on holiday in France.
A spokesman for the trust said: “Amanda performed a unique role as CEO of Paradigm Multi-Academy Trust. At the time of her death, this included directly supervising the principals of four schools to deliver effective and excellent education for pupils.
“She was also principal of Murrayfield Primary Academy, where she ensured that the quality of teaching and overall provision at the school reflected the standards expected of a Paradigm Trust school and enabled pupils to make exceptional progress.”