I must say that the press report at the weekend about the salaries of academy trust principals and chief executives in England did take me a little by surprise. I knew there had been some “wage inflation” since the bad old days of LEA control – they weren’t that bad – but not to the extent reported in some trusts.
I suspect that more than a few hard pressed headteachers outside this gilded group read the item with dismay. The idea that a public servant, as at the end of the day that is what these colleagues are, should be remunerated at the levels reported (and don’t forget the BMWs thrown into the package in one case at least) does seem to suggest that those in power in some MATs have, in simple terms, lost the plot.
While many state schools struggle to balance the books, and provide adequate resources and facilities for teaching and learning these levels of remuneration are just plain wrong.
Now, don’t get me wrong. I have just stepped down as Chief Executive of a local authority. A job in which I was well paid, but at nothing like the levels reported at the weekend for MAT chief execs responsible for a group of schools maybe measured in a few tens of institutions.
As a council Chief Executive I was ultimately responsible for a raft of public services from the bins to social work and everything in between, including the performance of a significant number of schools. (Note to reader – in Scotland there are no academies in the English sense of the term and state schools remain, for the time being, under the control of their Local Authority). The pay was realistic, not excessive, and could be justified in terms of the demands and expectations of the job and the differential with those working in many varied roles across a 5000 strong organisation. In any case it was set nationally and not by my council so my ability to influence the rate of pay was nil.
The other (always used) comparator this weekend was the pay of the PM.
Isn’t it about time this nonsense was debunked? If package rather than pay was counted it might look rather different – accommodation at Number 10, and at Chequers, transport and travel, personal security, a fair whack of subsistence thrown in (that’s food and drink by the way translated from local government speak). I don’t know what rent free accommodation in a substantial central London property is worth, suffice to say a lot….and as an MP the former PM is entitled to a pension if they leave Parliament.
In any case the idea that the job of PM can be a benchmark for anything else is in my view just nonsense.
Senior leaders in public service are always on thin ice when they discuss pay. But in real terms if the rate for the job is not in balance with the demands of the job we will not recruit or retain the talent that public services need. My question here is whether in setting remuneration as high as it appears to have been in some English academy trusts has that balance been lost?
In this case those who are really paying the price are of course the learners in whose classrooms this money is not being spent.