Great Britain

Head of 'socialist Eton' gets another pay rise to up to £275,000 despite government warnings

One of the best paid state school headteachers in the country has received a pay rise that could take his salary as high as £275,000 per year – despite government calls for salary restraint. 

Colin Hall, head of Holland Park School – dubbed the “socialist Eton” – has seen his salary rocket by up to £95,000 in five years. In the same period many state schools have struggled to make ends meet and teachers have had pay rises capped at 1 per cent.

The largest teaching union in the UK has accused the government of “staggering irresponsibility” with taxpayers’ money, adding that their efforts to crackdown on high academy pay have been “ineffective”.  

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The financial accounts for the west London school, revealed by trade magazine Schools Week, show that Mr Hall’s pay bracket rose from £260,000-£265,000 in 2017 to £270,000-£275,000 last year. 

Holland Park, which has educated the children of a number of high-profile politicians, has been asked twice by ministers to justify the high salaries of senior staff at the academy trust – which only runs one school.

The secondary school has another three employees on more than £100,000 – including academy head David Chappell who also saw his salary rise to between £185,000 and £190,000.

Last month, academy chief Sir Dan Moynihan, whose salary and benefits package amount to £550,000 a year, called for greater scrutiny of the pay of leaders who run only one or two schools. 

Sir Dan Moynihan, chief executive of the Harris Federation, which runs more than 40 schools, said it was “different” when there is a large number of schools in an academy trust.

Holland Park, which has around 1,400 pupils, became a flagship school for comprehensive education when it opened in 1958. It became known as “the socialist Eton” after a number of left-wing politicians, including former Labour cabinet minister Tony Benn, sent their children to the school.

More recently, Michael Gove and John Bercow have sent their children to the school.

In December 2017, Holland Park was one of the first academy trusts to receive a letter from the government asking for justification of high executive salaries.

In February this year, it received a second warning from academies minister Lord Agnew as part of a government drive to curb excessive salaries. 

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union (NEU), said: “For all their tough talk on academy pay, it is quite clear that the government is ineffective at best and powerless at worst. 

“Their election pledge to continue with the discredited academies and free schools programme, flying in the face of all the evidence against it, demonstrates a staggering irresponsibility with taxpayers’ money. 

“The academies project has always been in the interests of the few, not the many. It is certainly not in the best interests of parents and children.”

Chris Keates, acting general secretary of teaching union NASUWT, said: “There is an increasing number of revelations of headteachers being paid a salary more than the prime minister receives. 

“The public has a right to know about these decisions and how they are justified in practice, especially at a time when teachers have seen their pay fall by around 20 per cent in real-terms and when many schools and academies are reporting cutting back on support for pupils due to financial pressures.”

The Department for Education said 278 academy trusts that pay a salary of more than £150,000, or trusts that pay two or more staff members over £100,000, have been “challenged” since 2017. 

A spokesperson for the DfE said: “It is essential that we have the best people to lead our schools if we are to raise standards, but academy trust salaries should reflect the individual responsibility alongside local retention and recruitment needs. 

“Pay must be justifiable and expectation is clearly set out in the 2019 Academies Financial Handbook.”

Holland Park School has been approached for comment by The Independent. 

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