Head Paid PS200k as Money Ran out for Pens

Liverpool Echo (Liverpool, England), July 19, 2018 | Go to article overview

Head Paid PS200k as Money Ran out for Pens


Byline: JONATHAN HUMPHRIES ECHO Reporter jonathan.humphries@trinitymirror.com @JHUMPHRIESECHO

A FORMER "super-head" was paid in excess of PS200,000 at a cash-strapped Academy Trust - while teachers claimed they had to buy their own pens and textbooks to teach kids.

An ECHO investigation found millions had been lost after a catastrophic failure to budget, at an Academy Trust responsible for schools in some of the most deprived areas in Britain.

The Heath Family North West Multi-Academy Trust (MAT), which runs schools in Litherland, Prescot, Runcorn and Cheshire, has since been propped up by emergency funding from the Government.

As the Trust's grip on its finances disintegrated, now-retired executive principal Heather Mullaney received increases of up to PS60,000 between 2013 and 2017, according to company accounts.

Current bosses say they are "not aware" of teachers paying for their own resources, but admit the Trust paid Mrs Mullaney "too much."

The stark admission comes after an independent auditor questioned whether her eye-watering salary was "an appropriate use of public funds."

The audit, by Howard Worth accountants, based in Northwich, said: "Given the financial position of the company as disclosed in the Trustees report, we question whether the remuneration of the executive principal, now retired ... is appropriate use of public funds."

In a response to questions from the ECHO, Craig Parkinson, chief operating officer at the Heath Family MAT, said: "The former Executive Principal did receive significant increases as she transitioned from the head of the Heath School to Executive Principal of the Trust.

"These were agreed by the board as part of the original business plan of the Trust. It is now acknowledged that these increases were too large and made too quickly. The board addressed this issue during the process of appointing our new CEO, in September, 2017."

Mrs Mullaney retired in September but had received a salary of between PS185,000 and PS190,000, in addition to between PS25,000 and PS30,000 in pension contributions.

Since the crisis came to light two further directors, Kris Billington and Timothy Cook, have resigned.

But Mr Parkinson said the pay of the new CEO, David Donnelly, is now "significantly lower" than Mrs Mullaney's final salary. He said: "The salary determined by the board as a result of these actions is one of the lowest of similarly-sized Trusts across the country."

The ECHO has attempted to contact Heather Mullaney for a response.

What is the Heath Family Trust? The Heath Family Trust runs eight schools in the North West, including Litherland High School, The Prescot School, The Heath School, in Runcorn, and Sir William Stanier Community School, in Crewe.

The trust is funded directly from central government, and is independent of local authority control. Academies are run as charitable, non-profit trusts and are exempt from taxation, but must publish accounts for public scrutiny.

But, in recent years, criticism has emerged over executive pay.

Concerned officials from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA), part of the Department for Education, wrote to 87 Academy trusts asking them to justify salaries of over PS150,000 to CEOs. The Heath Family (NW) was on that list.

Whistleblower The failure to properly oversee spending at its individual schools has led to claims teachers struggled to do their jobs.

A whistleblower contacted the ECHO to report on their experiences as the financial crisis came to light.

The teacher said: "The budget is non-existent and some departments have run out of the most basic supplies like exercise books and pens. "I have been buying my own equipment, as have many of my colleagues.

"It has not always been like this.

Staff noticed a financial change when we joined The Heath Academy. …

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