Education & Family

Call to publish head teachers' salaries

Michael Gove with a pupil in London
Image caption Michael Gove says head teachers' salaries should be capped at £142,500

Head teachers should have to publish their salaries as increasing numbers are thought to be earning six figure sums, a teachers' leader says.

Head of the Nasuwt teaching union, Chris Keates, says many of the higher wages are paid in academy schools.

They have more freedom than other state schools to set pay and conditions.

The education secretary wants head teachers' pay in England to be capped at below the prime minister's salary - a handful are thought to earn £180,000.

The call comes after the union debated a motion at its conference in Glasgow calling for more clarity on head teachers' pay.

It said too many heads had secured inflated pay and benefit packages, although it acknowledged they were the minority.

The top of the pay scale is £109,000, but governors can offer much more. It is thought that about 100 head teachers earn more than £150,000, with a handful earning as much as £180,000.

There was criticism of pay levels when the GMB union revealed that 11 head teachers in London alone were earning more than £150,000.

'Executive heads'

However, with pay being set by school governing bodies, there are no records kept on how many heads earn above the top of their pay scale.

Education Secretary Michael Gove has written to the body which advises the government on teachers' pay to say they should not earn more than £142,500.

Ms Keates suggested some heads were converting to academy status partly because they knew they could expect higher wages.

"Some of the motivation to go is more flexibility on pay and terms of rewards for senior leaders.

"We have called for the publication of head teachers' pay. Why should they be exempt from chief executives in the public sector that have to have their salaries published?"

"We've heard of a number of these, head teachers taking schools through to academy conversion calling themselves executive heads and saying now they've got more responsibility they should get more pay. There's no rationale or debate about it."

She added: "One school became an academy and the head teacher was then taken on on a part time contract. But he was being paid the equivalent of what he was paid full time to be described as a consultant."

"That head had gone on to a three-day week, and another head teacher was taken on and described as the head teacher. That's clearly an abuse of public money. My understanding is that he was earning £100,000."

Rigour needed

Ms Keates said that the more autonomy given to schools then the more these "abuses" were likely to increase.

She added that some heads were getting huge increases in pay just because they had changed their job titles.

She gave the example of heads in small primary schools in south-west England who became executive heads increased they pay to around £100,000 and £160,000.

Ms Keates said high salaries were becoming more common because the government had created a culture in which schools did not have to stick to the national pay framework.

Increasingly there was a culture in which "anything goes", particularly for leadership pay, she added.

"One academy in Staffordshire had 32% of its staff on the leadership pay spine".

This means that they are all paid more than the highest paid teacher, and the minimum they could get is in excess of £45,000.

"Imagine that pay bill," she said.

"There's no rigour, the responsibility has to be taken by government and governing bodies. They have to limit these pay levels."

There is often no evidence for high pay levels, Ms Keates said.

"Often it's just on the nod rather than on production of rigorous evidence to identify why this is. It's quite despicable," she added.

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