top of page

CASE Report
May 2023

Systems Matter: the Cost to Classrooms of the Academies Programme

A report for the Campaign for State Education

by Warwick Mansell

“Unjustifiably high salaries use public money that could be better spent on improving children’s education and supporting frontline teaching staff.”


Public Accounts Committee, 2018

Key Findings

Organising English schools through multi-academy trusts is costing millions of pounds in extra management overheads, when compared to schools run by local authorities - taking money from classrooms.


More than 10,000 schools, about half of all of England’s state-funded institutions, are academies, arranged in over 2,400 academy trusts.


The 50 largest academy trusts have around 850k learners.


The 10 largest local authorities are responsible for around 870k learners.​

  • Academies do not provide better quality education than local authority schools, with no evidence that forced academisation guarantees improvement. 

  • The DfE claims all schools are funded at the same level, so extra spending on management means lower classroom spending.

  • The chief executives of the largest trusts earn more than directors of education in even the biggest local authorities.

  • In 2021-22 the 10 largest local authorities spent £3.7 million on the salaries of employees on more than £130,000. The 50 largest academy trusts spent £27.8 million.

  • Since 2010, the leaders of the 10 largest academy trusts have seen salary increases four times that of experienced classroom teachers.

  • Between 2017 and 2022 top pay at the 20 largest trusts rose 12 per cent, whilst teachers saw their salaries rise 7.6 per cent.

  • Government rhetoric on restraining high pay among academy trusts has com to nothing.

  • The introduction of Regional Schools Directors to oversee the academies sector has created an additional 500 civil servants at a cost of more than £30 million a year.

  • As trusts get larger, their per-pupil costs on highly-paid managers increase, negating economies of scale.

  • Smaller trusts do not spend as much per pupil on highly paid managers, but they still easily outrstip local authorities.

  • Academies pay heads more and teachers less than local authority maintained schools.

bottom of page