How-to: find out academy charity salaries

Here’s a lesson in how to investigate salaries surrounding academy schools: a Guardian report that “Charities that run chains of academy schools are using public funds to pay senior staff six-figure salaries, with some on £240,000 or more.”

It arrived at that figure by looking at the most recent annual reports of 5 major chains.

There is a distinction to be made between paying academy school staff and paying staff in the charities that run those schools, but the use of annual accounts – which charities must file with the Charity Commission – is a good way to look into the overall picture, particularly when you can compare across time and with wages in state schools:

“One member of staff at the Academies Enterprise Trust earned between £200,000 and £209,999. No member of staff had been in this pay bracket the previous year, the accounts show. The chain grew from three to six academies between August 2009 and the following year.

“The chains would not, with the exception of Liddington, reveal which senior staff had received the most generous packages. However, senior staff include finance and education directors of the chains, as well as academy headteachers. The packages tend to include salary, bonuses and, in some cases, pension contributions.

“Academies receive a similar amount from the Department for Education as state schools that work with local authorities do. However, academies are given extra for the services that councils would have otherwise provided and they do not have to adhere to strict rules governing the pay and conditions of senior staff, as state schools working with local authorities do.

“The maximum annual salary of a headteacher at a state school under local authority control is between £79,835 and £112,181. Only a headteacher in a large inner London secondary school would be eligible for the higher sum.

“The accounts also show that another member of staff at the United Learning Trust earned between £150,000 and £160,000, while three at Ark Schools were paid between £140,000 and £150,000. No staff at either chain were in these pay brackets the year before. Four employees of Harris Federation earned between £130,000 and £140,000, compared with just one the year before.”

If this makes you want to start investigating something similar, let us know how we can help.

UPDATE: From Jane in the comments:

Unfortunately, the Academies Act 2010 changed the charitable status of academy trusts. They are now exempt charities and all the major ones were very, very quick to deregister from the Charities Commission. was a route for getting previously filed accounts up to 2009 but, in checking, I have just been having trouble getting on to the site. I did do an FoI request to the Charity Commission and you can, that way, get previously filed accounts but still not current ones, which are available from Companies House for a fee.

About Paul Bradshaw

Founder of Help Me Investigate. I'm a visiting professor at City University London's School of Journalism, and run an MA in Online Journalism at Birmingham City University. I publish the Online Journalism Blog, and am the co-author of the Online Journalism Handbook and Magazine Editing (3rd edition). I have a particular interest in Freedom of Information and data journalism.
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