The Yorkshire Post is reporting results of an investigation it has undertaken into academy chains in Yorkshire claiming they have ‘taken millions of pounds from Yorkshire schools’ budgets while paying their own top bosses higher salaries than the Prime Minister’. This is an extract from the Yorkshire Post…
Figures obtained by the Yorkshire Post show that around £9m has been top-sliced in the past three years from primary and secondary academies in the region in order to pay for chains’ central services – which include wages of several chief executives who earned more than £150,000 and a director-general whose take home pay was around £280,000 a year.
Four of the biggest chains operating in Yorkshire – Academies Enterprise Trust (AET), E-ACT, School Partnership Trust Academies (SPTA) and Outwood Grange Academies Trust – have all paid their most senior figures salaries greater than the £142,500 earned by David Cameron.
Since the coalition Government expanded the programme in 2010, both the number of academies run outside of council control and the number run by academy chains has increased sharply in Yorkshire. There are now almost 300 academies in the region, with more than 60 schools operating within larger chains.
AET and E-ACT are both national multi-academy chains operating in Yorkshire while Outwood and SPTA are organisations which have grown from two successful secondary schools in Wakefield and Garforth.
A Yorkshire Post investigation shows E-ACT has taken £2.9m out of its four schools in the region while paying its former director general Sir Bruce Liddington almost double the Prime Minister as well as six-figure salaries to 15 members of staff.
Outwood has taken £3.8m from six schools while paying four members of its team six-figure salaries – including chief executive Michael Wilkins, who earns £182,094.
AET is the biggest sponsor nationally and has just taken on eight schools in Yorkshire. It has retained £296,000 from its schools in the region while paying 19 staff six-figure salaries, including a top wage of between £240,000 and £249,999.
The SPTA did not provide exact figures to the Yorkshire Post but its latest annual accounts suggest it will have retained around £2m from 23 schools last year – by taking a 3.9 per cent slice of each academy’s grant funding from the Government. However, SPTA said not all of the grant money for schools published in its accounts was included in the calculation when taking out a 3.9 per cent share. Its chief executive, Sir Paul Edwards, was paid between £160,000 and £165,000.
Academy chiefs say the money they take from their institutions is less than local councils retain from their schools.
Thoughts on this story? Whilst some of the numbers seem eye-watering, it does seem to present only one side of the story. Surely a comparison with the amounts that would be diverted to local authorities (and salaries of their relevant employees) along with an assessment of the quality of services delivered is required to understand whether these academies offer value for money or not? Please let us know what you think.