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Fresh concern over ‘fat cat’ academy boss pay

PUBLISHED: 06:00 24 February 2018 | UPDATED: 06:57 24 February 2018

Felixstowe Academy. Picture: PETER A COOK/FELIXSTOWE ACADEMY

Felixstowe Academy. Picture: PETER A COOK/FELIXSTOWE ACADEMY

Peter A Cook/Felixstowe Academy

So-called ‘fat cat’ pay of some academy trust chiefs running schools in Suffolk has been called into question again amid calls for salaries to reflect performance.

Ian Cleland, who has resigned as chief executive of the Academy Transformation Trust (ATT) but currently remains employed by the ATT, which is seeking a replacement. Picture: IAN BURT Ian Cleland, who has resigned as chief executive of the Academy Transformation Trust (ATT) but currently remains employed by the ATT, which is seeking a replacement. Picture: IAN BURT

The chief executive of Suffolk’s best-performing trust for the GCSE Progress 8 measure – and second-best in the UK – receives almost half the salary of the trust which runs Felixstowe Academy, currently in special measures.

Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of Inspiration Trust, which runs East Point Academy in Lowestoft, receives an overall remuneration package worth £150,000-£155,000. The Norfolk-based trust runs 12 schools.

The trust was ranked second in England, out of 62 trusts, for the 2017 Progress 8 measure. It’s score of +0.55 meant each student achieved half-a-grade better in each subject than expected.

East Point Academy’s Progress 8 score was +0.66, Suffolk’s best. The school was run by Academies Enterprise Trust (AET) and put in special measures by Ofsted in March 2013. It was transferred by the government to the Inspiration Trust in December 2014 due to a lack of improvements. It was rated ‘good’ – with ‘outstanding’ leadership – in November 2016.

Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust. Picture: BILL SMITH Dame Rachel de Souza, chief executive of the Inspiration Trust. Picture: BILL SMITH

Calls have been made for the AET to be stripped of Felixstowe Academy, which it runs alongside 65 others. The AET insists rapid improvements will be made.

Julian Drinkall, appointed AET’s chief executive in January 2017, received when he joined a £264,000 remuneration package, “less than his predecessor”, an AET spokesman said. It was set by a remuneration committee and linked to performance across the trust. The spokesman added: “He has declined a pay rise for the current financial year, in recognition of the financial challenges that both AET and the wider sector face.”

It emerged last year that more than 100 chief executives of multi-academy trusts are earning more than the £150,000 salary paid to prime minister Theresa May.

Parliamentary Under Secretary of State of Schools Lord Agnew has warned not all boards are “rigorous enough on this issue” and warned that he would not expect the pay of chief executives to rise faster than teaching staff.

Graham White, executive member for Suffolk at the National Education Union (NUT section), said the figures appeared to show that some trusts are “rewarding failure”. He added: “Teachers and heads only received a 1% pay rise last year.”

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