Academy chain axed in head’s pay scandal

Ted Woodley, Birmingham Central Socialist Party

The poster boy for the ‘academy’ system has fallen from grace, in a scandal which exposes the dangers of Tory backdoor privatisation plans.

Birmingham’s most famous ‘super-head’, Liam Nolan, is rarely out of the news. But this latest scandal has rocked his firm, ‘Perry Beeches the Academy Trust’, which runs several schools in the city.

Perry Beeches had been due to open two more schools by 2017. Now, the Department for Education is going to strip the firm of five of its schools. But, having learned nothing, it will hand them over to yet another academy chain – this time run by a senior Coventry Labour councillor, Blairite David Kershaw.

Teachers and the Socialist Party have warned from the off that academies and ‘free schools’ hand our children’s education over to unaccountable profit-seekers.

There is no credible evidence that standards are higher than in council-run schools. Academies also place senior managers, often anti-union bullies, on a pedestal, and pay them bloated salaries.

One of Nolan’s free schools was placed in ‘special measures’ by schools inspector Ofsted – only 20 months after opening. Despite this, the Tories and wider political establishment continued to laud him as an educational crusader, single-handedly driving up standards.

Prime Minister David Cameron has praised him, and Birmingham Labour MP Jack Dromey described him on Twitter as “one of Britain’s finest heads”.

However, following an investigation, the government’s Education Funding Agency has revealed the lengths to which Nolan has gone to line his own pockets.

For his role as ‘executive headteacher’, Nolan gets £120,000 a year.

But he is also the chief executive officer of the multi-academy trust. Instead of drawing a salary for this role, during the last two years the trust made payments totalling £160,000 to a company called ‘Nexus’ to supply a CEO.

Nexus then subcontracted this ‘work’ to another company called Liam Nolan Ltd – whose sole director is… you guessed it!

It gets worse. The report goes on to reveal that the trust handed over £1.3 million to Nexus over two years “without a written contract or a formal procurement exercise to demonstrate value for money.”

How can all this be explained? You need to ask the trust’s accounting officer. However, this post is also held by the same Liam Nolan. How does he find the time to teach anything?


The stink continues as even the trust’s chair of governors had “joint business interests” with a director of Nexus. This was not disclosed in the register of interests.

Nolan defended himself by telling the BBC last week: “I’m a teacher not a businessman.” You’d be forgiven for thinking otherwise.

He has even stated in the past that he considers himself underpaid. “Compared to other industries whose bosses run similar budgets I would say the salary is low in comparison,” he told the Birmingham Mail in 2014.

In a separate case, the trust has been ordered to repay over £118,000 after wrongly claiming money for free school meals.

The Tories intend to scrap democratically elected governors and council oversight of schools entirely by 2022. The Socialist Party opposes this. We fight for schools to be publicly owned and run, under the democratic control and management of teachers, parents, students and the local community.