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Thursday, 24 September 2020 19:13

School Leaders in Kent and Medway on salaries of over £150,000, and others


Updates: The entries on the third page, Other Trusts, are still being updated and extended, following enquiries, as this article is attracting considerable interest  (from headteachers?). I am now surveying all single academy Trust non-selective and primary academies,  with further details below.  

The website Education Uncovered has identified the full list of 183 English Academy Trust leaders receiving (earning?) more than £150,000 in salary for the school year 2018-19. This includes eight leaders who were working in Trusts running mainly Kent schools, including the scandalous increase of 33% for one leader up from £150,000 to £200,000 in twelve months and who then took early retirement at the end of the year. The Trusts are Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust, The John Wallis Church of England Academy; Kent Catholic Schools' Partnership; Leigh Academies Trust; Swale Academy Trust (2); Valley Invicta Trust (2).

I also look below at staff in five other Trusts which have academies in Kent or Medway, and several other Trusts of interest, including cases where well-paid leaders have now retired. 

The Education and Skills Funding Agency has been sending letters to academy trusts who have an executive salary above £150,000 or multiple salaries between £100,000 and £150,000 since 2017, asking them for justification of these payments. The website Schools Week has found few signs of any practical response to this attempt to hold pay back, certainly not amongst the Kent Trusts listed below.

Browsers can decide, from the descriptions below, whether the school leaders concerned provide value for money for their schools. 

This article is divided into three sections on separate pages: (1) below-Trusts based mainly in Kent and Medway; (2) other Trusts with schools in Kent and Medway; (3) Other Trusts where school leaders have retired or otherwise departed. You will find a full list of every Multi Academy Trust operating on Kent or Medway here, along with some details about them. 

One stand out feature is that in general there appears little correlation between the salaries of academy headteachers, in any sector, grammar, non-selective or primary, and the size or performance of the school. I also look, at the foot of this article, an issue relating to CEOs promoted up from headteachers within the Trust. 

Leigh Academies Trust
The highest-paid leader of an Academy Trust primarily based in Kent in 2018-19 is Simon Beamish who earned £225,000 in 2018-19 having been CEO of Leigh Academies Trust since 2012. He was previously co-head of Longfield Academy in the Trust. Still only 43 years old, Simon began his career at Fort Pitt Grammar, where he was described as an outstanding teacher and, unsurprisingly described as being very ambitious. He then rose rapidly via a number of schools of different character to his current position. Leigh is the second largest Trust based in Kent with 23 academies, including grammar, non-selective and special schools, four of which are in Bexley. It continues to expand, recently taking over the failed Williamson Trust and is about to open the new Leigh Academy Rainham. Interestingly, Paul Carter, who retired as Leader of KCC last October, has been appointed as a Director of the Trust this month, for the second time. He succeeds Jeremy Kite, the long term Leader of Dartford Council who has regularly promoted the interests of the Trust, and indeed education in Dartford, for many years.  Simon is also Chairman of Kent and Medway Training,  a valuable partnership of at least a hundred Kent schools offering training opportunities for new teachers.
Valley Invicta Academy Trust (VIAT)
Next came Vic Ashdown, who was co-CEO of Valley Invicta Academy Trust on £200,000 in 2018-19, exceptionally also keeping the headship of Valley Park School This followed an enormous hike in his income of one third from £150,000 the previous year and £140,000 in 2016-17, as can be seen in the Trust accounts here, page 36. Vic very quietly took early retirement from the Trust and Valley Park in August last year with a very healthy pension, and is now an Education Consultant. The nature of his departure suggests an issue, but VIAT never apologises, never explains. His co-CEO Julie Derrick who is on a salary of £160,000 and has retained her headship of Invicta Grammar School, ‘only’ saw her salary rise form £150,000 in 2017-18. VIAT has seen a period of rapid expansion from its base of two schools over the past five years, and now runs four secondary academies and five primaries all in the Maidstone area, listed here.  These include the previously failed Lenham School, and the new School of Science and Technology, Maidstone opened this month, which has had a very difficult incubation as explained here. Three of the primary academies were opened in 2015. I exposed the mass Invicta Grammar sixth form exclusions in 2016 at a period when the school was obsessed with high performance, although no one ever apologised for unlawfully curtailing the school careers of 22 students. Valley Park has been one of the most oversubscribed schools in Kent for many years, with an Outstanding Ofsted record until this January, when it was reclassified as Good. 
Swale Academies Trust
Third is Jon Whitcombe on £195,000, CEO of Swale Academies Trust for the last ten years, and before that head of Westlands School from 1998. This is another expansive Trust, now moving into East Sussex, currently with eighteen academies headed up by Westlands School. Seven of these are secondary schools, and eight are in Sussex. Jon rightly has a reputation for being a robust negotiator, and has frequently featured in these pages as such, most recently driving the issues here.  I have previously written  ‘The Trust has a bruising reputation for achieving its aims but, as a result has the best Ofsted profile of any Academy group in the county’, as explained here. The Trust also had the second highest paid leader in Kent on £200,000, but strangely this person is not identifiable and I understand is no longer in this position.  
John Wallis Church of England Academy Trust
John McParland was on £173,000 for running the single school John Wallis Church of England Academy Trust in Ashford, but retired in August, after a very successful ten years in which he turned the school round and combined it with a previously failed primary school, to become only Kent’s third all through school (but see below). He was previously a very successful head at St Simon Stock Catholic School in Maidstone. He was the highest-paid of the three leaders of Christian Trusts which conclude this list. The second highest-paid head of a non-selective single school was paid £110,000 in 2018-19.
Kent Catholic Schools Partnership
Clive Wester presumably still draws his £155,000 salary, although he has been absent from his role of CEO at the Kent Catholic Schools Partnership since around May, probably on suspension, although no explanation has been forthcoming from the Trust. Whilst Clive has had a high profile career, as explained here, his centralising leadership of KCSP, amongst other controversial decisions since becoming founding CEO in 2014 has been very controversial as explained in my article. The Trust is the largest in Kent, running 24 schools, including five secondaries, a number of which are now gathered together in clusters and one controversial primary attracting the highest visitor rate to this website for a single school ever, with 22,500 hits to the first article. Most of its schools are academically high performing.
Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust
Steve Carey is Executive Headteacher of St George’s Church of England School in Gravesend, regularly one of the most oversubscribed secondary schools in the county and now expanded to take in primary aged children. He is also CEO of the  Aletheia Anglican Academies Trust, including St George’s, together with six local primary schools and the new all-age Alkerden School, to be opened in Ebbsfleet next year. Steve has been head of St George’s for nearly six years, the Trust being formed five years ago, and is the only new Kent arrival on this list with an annual salary of £150,000.

By contrast with the three church academy trusts above, Annie Wiles, CEO of the highly successful Diocese of Canterbury Academies Trust (Aquila) had an annual salary of £85,000 in 2018-19. The Trust runs 13 CofE primary schools, many taken over and turned around after failing as Local Authority Schools.

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Last modified on Friday, 12 March 2021 06:01

1 comment

  • Comment Link Sunday, 27 September 2020 23:39 posted by James Richards

    What a fascinating article, full of new gems as usual. However many hours do you put in on researching such matters Peter, to show that actually for many academy Trusts, the CEO's salary bears little relation to responsibilityand performance. I exclude Leigh and Swale from the inevitable criticism you have generally and politely not laid at the doors of governing bodies who have been blinded by articulate,, inadequate and grossly overpaid leaders.

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