The boss of an academies chain which runs schools across south London was given an "eye-watering" pay package totalling more than half a million pounds last year.

Harris Federation chief executive Sir Daniel Moynihan earned between £440,000 and £445,000 in 2016/17.

With employer pension and national insurance contributions of between £110,00 and £120,000 included, his overall remuneration package was between £550,000 and £565,000.

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Sir Daniel is understood to be the highest earning academy boss in the country.

In 2015/16, he was paid between £420,000 and £425,000, and received between £100,000 and £110,000 in pension and national insurance contributions.

It means that his pay alone, without benefits, has gone up by at least £15,000.

The figures were first reported by the Times Educational Supplement.

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The Harris Federation said its chief executive's salary is set by a remuneration committee, and linked to performance across the trust.

A Harris federation spokeswoman said: "The chief executive's salary is published each year in the Federation's accounts.

"It is set by the remuneration committee and is linked to performance measured across the federation.

"Sir Dan Moynihan leads a federation of 44 academies - which employs 4,400 people, educates 32,000 children in and around London, and trains hundreds of teachers every year."

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She added that the latest government performance tables show that the Harris Federation is the top-performing large multi-academy trust in England and that all of its academies inspected so far have been rated as good or outstanding by Ofsted.

"Many of these schools joined the federation as failing schools which had let down generations of families," she said.

But one union leader said the pay packet was "eye-watering" and that it did not send the right message at a time when school budgets are under pressure.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, told the Press Association: "I think these salaries are eye-watering.

"An increase of £15,000, when all schools, including Harris academies, are facing severe financial pressures is not the right message to be sending."

Harris Federation operates various schools in Bromley, Bexley, Greenwich, Croydon, Merton, Sutton and Wandsworth.