Academy chains take £9m from Yorkshire schools’ budgets as chiefs cash in

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.

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.

More at:  Academy chains take £9m from schools’ budgets as chiefs cash in

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.

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Comments

  1. rrunsworth

    SchoolsImprove Numbers appear big but need comparable nos for LA retention of budgets and salaries 2 put into context yorkshirepost

  2. HeadteacherNunn

    SchoolsImprove need comparable figures of % retained from budget, services provided, improvements made and accountability of public money

  3. Chrysalis

    Well, as someone who works in a Local Authority, I find the suggestion that LA’s retain more money is just a joke.  The LA retained budget is around 1% (from memory) of the schools’ allocation, and funds all of the statutory services for hundreds of schools – mostly primary – as well as a few secondary, and the special school sector.  That funding is taken after the Academies have taken their money, so is not part of their funding.  The LA funds cover safeguarding, HR, EWO, EdPsych, school improvement, EY and so on – none of these are provided by the 30 or so Academies in our area.
    The very highest salary in the LA team is around £75k, for the Head of Service.

  4. inwte

    SchoolsImprove This will be the norm, then once they have taken what they want where will schools be left?

  5. ajjolley

    miconm wiganwilson at some point, there will be a major scandal about Academy funding
    Abuses so far haven’t really made the main news?

      • ajjolley

        miconm wiganwilson lots of local scandals & news for people interested in education, but no OMG front page spreads yet

        • ajjolley

          miconm wiganwilson not sure even priory got major coverage, no defining moment that shocks general public, as yet. Lots of “small” outrage

        • ajjolley

          miconm wiganwilson true, I suspect it is all reliant on something going to court and prison, before more general interest ?

        • Jan_Rush

          ajjolley miconm wiganwilson out wood grange has already had a scandal about overseas trips & fact finding jollies if I remember correctly

        • Jan_Rush

          ajjolley miconm wiganwilson SPTA uses the money it takes to provide all the local authority type services (HR, payroll, clerking, etc)

        • Jan_Rush

          ajjolley miconm wiganwilson so I’m not sure it is an entirely balanced article although think there are finance issues in academy prog

        • miconm

          Jan_Rush ajjolley wiganwilson that’s fine – but school choice/autonomy removed, as all this now must be delegated

        • miconm

          Jan_Rush ajjolley wiganwilson think it’s ok in small, locally run chain (3-5 schools) but not beyond that.

        • miconm

          Jan_Rush ajjolley wiganwilson I’m not opposed to academy programme. I am uncomfortable about large chains & restricted choice on spending

        • Jan_Rush

          miconm ajjolley wiganwilson one school I’m at declined to join SPTA group, so I’m not entirely unbiased

        • miconm

          Jan_Rush ajjolley wiganwilson it’s as well to be informed & opinionated on these issues I think. Not opposed to policy but…

    • miconm

      ajjolley wiganwilson & we have to remember a top slice isn’t necessarily abuse. Just odd that a chain isn’t required to passport all £

  6. dewiapwiliam

    SchoolsImprove So the head of an academy chain of schools is “being paid £280k p.a”? Has the DfE gone mad,or given up on due diligence?

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