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Highest-earning academy chief’s annual pay nears £500k

England’s best-paid academy trust boss has been handed a £25,000 pay hike – taking his salary even closer to half a million pounds.

Harris Federation CEO Sir Dan Moynihan’s salary has risen by at least 6 per cent from a minimum of £460,000 to £485,000.

It is higher than the 5 per cent increase most teachers saw in 2022–23 – prompting concerns the disparity could impact “the morale and wellbeing of the lowest paid”.

Schools Week analysis of accounts for the last financial year, which trusts must publish on their websites by the end of January, show 15 chief executives across the 20 largest multi-academy trusts (MATs) have seen their pay packets grow.

Mike Short, UNISON’s head of education, said news of Moynihan’s pay rise “will be particularly disheartening for support staff who have critical roles working directly with pupils but are paid so little”.

“It’s no surprise many are having to rely on second jobs or leave the sector for better-paid jobs. Allowing such a disparity in pay rises can have a profound impact on the morale and wellbeing of the lowest paid. It’s crucial that fair rises are given to all staff.”

In November 2022, unions accepted an offer for school support staff, including teaching assistants, to be paid an extra £1,925 this year.

The offer meant a 10.5 per cent hike for the lowest-earners and just over 4 per cent for those on high wages covered by the agreement.

Trust hands out Christmas bonuses

It is Moynihan’s first pay rise since 2018–19. His salary is also an outlier – he is nearly £200,000 better paid than any other chief executive.

Latest accounts show there were also seven unnamed members of Harris staff earning more than £190,000.

However, its accounts also reveal those at the trust earning less than £35,000 were also given a £250 Christmas bonus to help with “alleviating the cost-of-living crisis”.

Rebecca Boomer Clark

This was funded through £1 million earmarked from “the annual cost savings generated [by the trust] through economies of scale”.

“This was well received,” the documents added, “and we will aim to go further in future years, in recognition of the financial pressures on many households.”

Of CEOs from the 20 largest MATs, three were given salary increases of 10 per cent or more. Bath and Wells Diocesan Academies Trust boss Nikki Edwards received between £165,000 and £170,000 last year, up 13.8 per cent from £145,000 to £150,000.

Meanwhile, Rebecca Boomer-Clark, Academies Enterprise Trust’s CEO, moved into the £220,000 to £225,000 pay banding, from £200,000 to £205,000.

Hugh Hegarty, the CEO of the Nicholas Postgate Catholic Academy Trust, was given the highest percentage rise of the top trust bosses. His salary rose 18.8 per cent from a minimum of £160,000 to £190,000.

A spokesperson for Hegarty’s trust said the MAT had grown from 27 to 37 schools in the time period, with a 38th joining last May.

‘Expanded remit’

It had also “commissioned an independent benchmarking exercise in respect of a salary banding for a CEO for a trust of this size” prior to the expansion.

“This pay band reflected the expanded remit for the new and much enlarged entity. The benchmarking exercise took account of regional and national trusts of similar size in respect of both schools and pupils.”

The other two trusts did not respond.

Our findings suggest 10 of the 15 MATs that paid their CEOs more in the last financial year took on more schools since July 2022. Harris took on four more academies over the period.

Department for Education academy accounts published last year revealed leaders earning significantly more than their peers at similar trusts would face new scrutiny from government.

The document said “executive pay based on 2021–22 data is currently under review to identify” outliers.

At the time, it was understood that no final decisions had been made or signed-off by ministers.

DfE did not respond to requests for an update on its pay crackdown.

Harris did not respond to numerous requests for comment.

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