Pay and pensions has been in the media an awful lot lately, what with strikes happening just about every month and achieving nothing apart from annoying families who have to work and those outside of the profession with it constantly rearing it’s ugly head in the news. You’ll be pleased to know this isn’t another one of my rants about striking.
Instead this one is about news that nearly 1000 head teachers are earning 6 figure salaries (over £100,000) according to figures published by the Department for Education, which immediately makes the thought of ‘more transparency needed’ come to mind.
This figure has risen more than a quarter (29%) of the number earning such salaries in comparison to 2 years ago. The question has to be asked in some people’s mind: Are schools abusing public money bit like the banks?
I will be honest here, the figures do show that around a third of these high earners are heads of Academies, which have considerably more freedom over pay than schools controlled by the state.
The Department for Education suggested the increase reflected a rise in the number of successful heads now enlisted to run more than one school. Ministers have actively encouraged the model to ensure more schools benefit from the experience of senior teachers with a proven track record.
But classroom unions criticised the disclosure, warning that pay is often set in “secrecy” with little requirement to publish full details of salary levels. For example, Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said many top heads had “benefit packages” including private health care, company cars and additional holiday with “no requirement to make any of it public”.
“Head teachers should have their annual salaries published in a clear and transparent way like every other person in senior public service positions,” she said. “It’s scandalous that schools in receipt of millions of pounds of public money do not have a requirement show exactly what they pay their heads.”
An annual census published by the DfE showed the state of the state school workforce in England. According to data, 900 heads are earning six-figure salaries in the current 2013/14 academic year. This includes 300 taking home over £110,000 and the rest paid between £100,000 and £109,999. The number of six-figure salaries was up on 700 in 2011/12 and 800 in 2012/13.
It is thought that the number of large pay awards could be much higher because another 600 senior leadership salaries were declared as “misreported”.
Overall, the average salary of a school leader at any type of state school now stands at £56,100 – compared with £55,700 in 2012 – although this includes assistant and deputy heads. The average classroom teacher in England takes home annual pay of £34,600 – up by 1.3 per cent, or £500, on last year.
I’m a mathematician, so I love a good few stats, so here come some more …. Other figures show:
• A record total of 451,100 full-time teachers are working in English state schools – up 9,100 up on the previous year;
• Some 17,000 teachers are officially registered as “unqualified” – an increase of 16 per cent in a year following the introduction of Coalition rules allowing schools to employ staff without proper teaching qualifications – prompting claims from Labour that the Coalition risked “damaging school standards”;
• A total of 750 posts – 0.2 per cent – were vacant in November 2013 when the census was completed, compared with 0.1 per cent a year earlier;
• More than 288,000 teachers – 57 per cent – took sick leave last year, up from 55 per cent a year earlier, with the average absent teacher missing eight days.
So what do these statistics tell us? Well it would appear to tell us that more people are entering the profession as the number of people working is rising, but these people are not necessarily qualified in their role and are pulling a few sickies. What the stats also show that yes more people are entering the profession, but the percentage of vacancies is on the rise at a faster rate, calling into question whether enough teachers are entering the profession to plug the gap.
Last year, the Government’s independent review body on teachers’ pay announced plans to give all schools more flexibility over senior leaders’ pay.
A DfE spokesman said: “It’s essential we have the best people in place to lead our schools if we are to raise standards. That’s why decisions on pay are down to schools – so they can recruit and retain the highest calibre of school leaders. As the nature of school leadership changes, these reforms will give schools greater flexibility to help schools ensure the most talented leaders are attracted to the teaching profession and are properly rewarded for taking on multiple or challenging schools.”
Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: “The average pay of a head teacher in England is £56,000 – far below the headline grabbing paychecks and far less than their skills would earn in the private sector. Those on six figure salaries are often responsible for leading several schools and all heads have high levels of scrutiny and accountability, work every hour available and care for the futures of thousands of children. Their leadership matters and if you want the best, you need to pay for it.”
As if you haven’t had enough stats, I’m gonna finish with some more. Here we go …
Thousands of schoolchildren are being taught by teachers who fail to hold to a university degree their specialist subject, new figures show. Lessons in core disciplines such as maths, English, history, geography, languages and the sciences are routinely being led by teachers with qualifications no higher than an A-level in their chosen area, it emerged.
Figures show 22.4 per cent of maths teachers and 20.1 per cent of those teaching English have “no relevant post-A-level qualification”. The proportion rises to 53.2 per cent in religious education, 49.9 per cent in Spanish, 33.5 per cent in physics, 33.4 per cent in geography, 27.2 per cent in history, 24.1 per cent in French, 23.9 per cent in chemistry.
Figures also showed that a total of 17,100 teachers were registered as “unqualified” – those without full qualified teacher status – this year. It was up by 16 per cent compared with 2012/13.
Labour said the introduction of Coalition rules allowing unqualified teachers to work permanently in English state schools risked “damaging school standards”. But the figures also include trainee teachers who are working towards full teaching qualifications. The Coalition has actively encouraged more students to train as teachers “on the job” rather than in universities.
The DfE also said a record 96 per cent of teachers now had degree-level qualifications or higher – 43,000 more than in 2010. A spokesman said: “More top graduates are coming into teaching than ever before and a record 96 per cent of teachers now hold a degree. Our reforms are putting teachers in the driving seat. Through academies and free schools, we are giving heads and teachers more power over what happens in the classroom and freeing them from interference by politicians. That’s good news for teachers, who can get on with their jobs, and good news for parents, who can be confident that teachers are solely focused on ensuring the best possible outcomes for their children.”
For me personally, letting all these unqualified teachers in can be a dangerous game with our education system, but I don’t buy the argument that teachers are not good enough at their subject if they don’t have a degree in it. Unless you actually teach that degree, in which case you will almost certainly need it, you don’t need that high a qualification to teach. It has been my belief that you should be qualified up to the point where you are going to teach, so if you are going up to A level, that’s what you need. I understand that knowing higher than that might allow you to inspire the kids to take up the challenge themselves, but as a mathematician, it’s hard enough to motivate kids to do maths at any age in the current climate …