One of the country’s largest providers of apprenticeships and vocational courses has come under fire for awarding its CEO a 60 percent increase in his pay package last year, at a time when funding for further education has been scaled back across the country.

Documents leaked to TES have revealed that Chris Jones, chief executive of the City and Guilds Group, received a salary of more than £690,000 last year – including a £277,000 lump sum bonus – making him the best paid executive in the education sector.

Founded in 1878 by the City of London and 16 livery companies, City and Guilds is a registered charity funded primarily by its six commercial businesses, which operate across the world.

Granted a Royal Charter by Queen Victoria in 1900, the presidency of the charity has been passed down among members of the Royal Family, and is currently held by Princess Anne. The Chairman of Council is Sir John Armitt, who took office in November 2012.

It is responsible for awarding funds to technical and further education colleges across the country, and currently runs 500 vocational qualifications in areas including construction, tourism and social care.

Following a successful career in communications after dropping out of an agricultural course as a student, Jones joined City and Guilds in 2008, and has recently been paid a salary which dwarfs that of the best paid academy heads and college executives.

According to the most recent figures, Susaina Mann, former head of North East Surrey College of Technology, was paid £363,000 prior to her departure last year, whilst Daniel Moynihan, CEO of the Harris Federation of schools, was paid more than £420,000.

It comes as executives across the education sector continue to enjoy larger pay packages year-on-year, whilst staff working in higher education and colleges have been forced to accept a  pay rise of just one percent.

A spokesman for the Group said that Mr Jones’s baseline salary remained unchanged since 2015, standing at £259,500, and that his additional emoluments had been paid through a long-term incentive scheme.

However, Janet Clark, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers education policy adviser, said that his salary increase had “concerned” union members, at a time when budgets for colleges were already “stretched”.

“Adult education budgets have already been cut by around 35 per cent over the last six years. To have this amount of money going from colleges to an awarding organisation is going to have a big impact,” she added.

Commenting, a spokesman for City & Guilds said that the increase had stemmed from a “successful delivery of performance-related targets”, adding that his salary was in line with market conditions.

He added:”The trustees believe that we need to be able to attract and retain senior executives with the right levels of experience and the right capabilities to enable the group’s future growth.

“Chris Jones is responsible for running a set of successful businesses across over 100 international markets. Over the past few years, our strategy has focused on diversifying away from publicly funded markets, and approximately a third of our revenue now comes from non-publicly funded markets, such as elearning and corporate training delivery.”