Trusts need to do more to curb the salaries of MAT CEOs

18 Apr

On 15 December 2016, the government launched the second-stage consultation on a National Funding Formula – the same day on which the National Audit Office warned that schools in England were facing a cut of 8% per pupil in real terms by 2019/20 which translates into £3 billion.

The proposed formula – for which consultations have now closed – will result in over 9,000 schools/academies losing out.  Money will disappear from London and other urban areas and moving to schools/academies – mainly in the shire counties – which currently receive less.  However, 11,000 (circa) schools/academies will gain, albeit they will see much lower increases than they had been made to believe because at the 9,000+ schools/academies the reductions will be phased in.

Education has enjoyed more than seven years of plenty with those in the profession drinking deeply from the financial well of generous governments.   Schools/academies that have been spendthrifts will suffer. Those who have been over-careful had been severely berated by their local authorities and the government for not giving their (current) pupils their just financial desserts.   Those that had been judicious and saved enough for a rainy day, will postpone suffering for a few years.

In the long-term, most schools/academies will have to provide more with less simply to survive, if not flourish.

It is, therefore, not with a little surprise and angst that I read the piece written by The Secret CEO (in The Times Educational Supplement of 31 March 2017).  The poor guy (his silhouette at the end of the article suggests that it is a “he”), who leads a multi-academy trust “somewhere in England” is “fed up” (the unfortunate devil) with reading “article after article about the ‘shocking’ salaries CEOs of MATs receive”.  He spends the entire article criticising critics for criticising the Chief Education Officers of Multi-Academy Trusts over the salaries they receive.

What surprises me is his “alarm”.  What else does he expect at a time when education is heading for some very, very lean years.  Posts will be left vacant to enable schools/academies make ends meet, spending on the curriculum and continuing professional development will be cut to the bone and, in some institutions, staff members (like Cressida Dick, the new Chief of the Metropolitan Police in London, who has taken a pay cut of £40,000 annually) will volunteer to lower their salaries?

The annual salaries of 11 Chief Education Officers (CEOs) – ranging from that of Sir Daniel Moynihan of the Harris Federation (£400,000) to Mr Mike Ramsay (£190,000) – were listed else in that issue of the TES. Each of them is earning substantially more than Prime Minister Theresa May, who draws a very modest £143,462.

Our unfortunate, secret CEO describes all his onerous duties, i.e. dealing with people working in different tiers of government, having to be accountable to a multitude of bodies and leading his academies.

He goes on to recognise that CEOs – like him – are well paid “but not outrageously”.  I would like to add – “just excessive”.   However, most teachers, teaching assistants, nurses and a host of others who also, like him, “don’t swan around breathing rarefied air”, work long, arduous hours and earn a fraction of the salaries that he and his colleagues draw.

Many, many years ago, I chose teaching as a vocation (in India).  My parents were appalled because there was so little money in education.   When I arrived on these shores, I earned a lot more as a teacher (after studying further) than I would ever have done on the sub-continent.  However, those at the top of the educational ladder today are drawing in ‘Monopoly’ money.   Such hikes in salaries can no longer be sustained.  It is at the expense of providing fairly for our children.

The nation cannot afford to continue spending as it did in the past and haemorrhage money that it does not have. We are (already) leaving our children, our children’s children and the generations that will follow a huge national debt – £1.65 trillion (and this is rising).

Enough said.   Before closing, however, I have two questions to ask our Secret CEO.

(1)        Why is it that so many in and out of the education world have been calling for the “secrecy” surrounding decisions to award academy chains chief executives percentage pay rises to 10 times higher than the average teacher’s to be lifted? Even the Chair of the Public Accounts Committee, Meg Hillier, is gobsmacked.

(2)        Why is it that the Secret CEO is so reluctant to disclose who he is?  Is there something to hide and if so, what?   The Education Funding Agency (EFA) is concerned about a rocketing increase in the financial mismanagement of academies.  It issued 25 financial notices to improve (FNTIs) in 2016.  (Only seven notices were issued in 2015.)  If one were to add the exorbitant salaries of MATs’ CEOs to the FNTIs it would have been a lot more.

Writing in the March/April 2017 issue of the National Governors’ Association organ, Governing Matters, Sam Henson, the Head of Information at the NGA, said: “Combining the basic underlying principles of effective yet ethical governance with a transparent culture and a well-informed board will go a long way to identifying issues.”  This will not only highlight but also tackle the issues plaguing some schools and academies, one of which are the salaries of their leaders.

So, Secret CEO, reveal yourself and do let us know who you are.

 

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