That was the headline of an article by Rosemary Bennett, Education Editor of The Times, March 30th.
Here are two extracts:
School academies that pay their executives and head teachers fat-cat salaries are depriving the front line of vital funds, MPs say.
The lack of accountability is "alarming" and in most cases pay packages of more than £150,000 have not been adequately explained, a Commons committee has said.
Meg Hillier, chairwoman of the public accounts committee, told The Times that just as university vice-chancellors were being held to account for their high salaries, so should academy chain executives. "It is not clear why these salaries are justified, especially in a time of pay restraint for teachers. Schools are not a business, they are taxpayer-funded and must be transparent and accountable," she said.
Academies had created a "gilded staircase", with boards offering higher and higher salaries to keep up with one another, she added.
The government has started to address the issue of high pay at academies in the past year. Its first move involved examining single academy trusts where a member of staff was paid in excess of £150,000. It wrote to 29 requesting a justification and all responded, but in two thirds of cases the government was not satisfied with the response, the MPs' report said.
The committee added: "More than two million pupils are taught by academies in England. The governance and financial management of these schools is fundamentally important to pupils' educational outcomes and future life prospects." It called for transparent and detailed information so that parents, parliament and other interested parties could hold the academies to account.
Ms Hillier said that high pay diverted cash from the classroom. "Excessive trustee salaries deprive the front line of vital funds," she added.
Meg Hillier is a Labour & Co-op Party Member of Parliament for Hackney South & Shoreditch in London. She is Chair of the Public Accounts Committee.
Perhaps the wider pertinence of this issue is with the intrusion of corporatisation even into the charity sector (as Academies notionally are).