Dozens of academy trusts have been ordered to justify salaries in excess of £100,000.
Academies Minister Lord Agnew wrote to 28 chairmen of trustees on Tuesday in a drive to ensure pay in schools matches individual responsibilities and the standard of education on offer.
The academies must provide detail about the pay of executives who earn more than £150,000, and those who earn £100,000 if two or more people in a school earn a six-figure salary.
Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for the Schools System, Lord Agnew, said: “The best academies place freedom in the hands of school leaders but with that autonomy comes greater accountability and transparency, which is exactly why I am insistent that the salaries of their executives are justifiable.
“And just because we are advocates of the academies programme, doesn’t mean we won’t call a trust out where we believe they are not acting responsibly.
“The overwhelming majority of academies are behaving responsibly and by publicly challenging the minority of trusts that are not complying with this request, we will ensure that every pound of public money is spent as effectively as possible to continue improving the standard of education in our schools.”
The letter was sent to fewer than 1% of academy trusts across England, and calls on the leaders to work with the Government on the “divisive issue” of high pay.
Lord Agnew asked for reassurances that financial resources which could be used on the frontline were not being diverted.
It comes after Eileen Milner, chief executive of the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) wrote to the chairmen of trustees at 213 academy trusts, 45 of which have reduced salaries.
A Public Accounts Committee (PAC) report last March said some academy trusts appeared to be using public money to pay excessive salaries.
The official annual report and accounts for academies in England showed there were 102 instances where trustees were paid salaries in excess of £150,000.
The 28 academies that have been written to are:
Alpha Academies Trust (Previously the College Academies Trust)
Ashmole Academy Trust Ltd
Carshalton Boys Sports College
Chingford Academies Trust
Cranford Community College
Gateway Learning Community
Guru Nanak Sikh Academy Limited
Hartismere Family of Schools
Hatton Academies Trust
Holland Park School
Inspirational Learning Academies Trust
Joseph Leckie Academy Trust
Knole Academy Trust
Lion Academy Trust
New River Trust
PA Community Trust
Southfields Multi Academy Trust (previously Southfields Academy)
Swakeleys School for Girls
The Boston Witham Academies Federation
The BRIT School Ltd
The Hoddesdon School Trust
The John Wallis Church of England Academy, Ashford
The Rosedale Hewens Academy Trust
The Sabden Multi Academy Trust
University Schools Trust, East London