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CEO Pay: How Much Is Too Much? It Depends On Your Job...

16 October 2017

CEO pay at multi-academy trusts varies wildly. The highest paid chief executive, Sir Dan Moynihan, receives over £400,000 per year for heading the Harris Federation. This puts his salary cost at around £15 per pupil in a good or outstanding school. Other trust leads earn less than £5 per pupil.

In response, some MPs have called for limits to academy chief pay.

So, what did the Teacher Tapp panel think should be the maximum salary of a CEO?

Overall, the most common answer was £100,000. But it varies depending on the respondent’s job.

Classroom teachers and middle leaders typically selected a cap of £100,000 or under. Only a tiny proportion – 10% or less – felt a salary of £300,000 upwards was acceptable.

Senior leaders suggested much higher limits. Over half of assistants and deputies said the salary cap should be £1 million, or none at all. Heads were slightly less likely to pick a salary of a £1,000,000 as a cap, but were much more likely to suggest no limits at all.

This difference in opinion may show why governing bodies are agreeing to high salaries even though teachers would not. Trustees of academy trusts are increasingly made up of people with senior leadership experience, either in academies, or in other business organisations. From our sample, it seems that people who have leadership positions also have more generous attitudes towards salaries. If this experience is replicated across governing body members we are likely to see them signing off on large salaries, even if teachers would not agree with them.

On the other hand, it is also worth pondering if an expectation of £100,000 or less is realistic. Third Sector, a trade magazine for charitable organisations, recently looked at pay across groups similar to trusts and found healthcare charities paying £850,000 to top executives. Across the top 100 charities in Britain, chief executive average pay was £210,000 — some way north of £100,000.

Senior leaders may be more liberal with ideas on chief executive pay, but perhaps they are also more realistic.


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