Union slams head teacher's 'outrageous' pay deal

A primary school head teacher's £231,400 salary was today branded "outrageous" by a union.

Mark Elms received a remuneration package totalling £276,523 for 2009/10 including employers' pension contributions for his leadership of Tidewell Primary School in south-east London, according to the GMB Union's analysis of Lewisham Council accounts.

Another head, Jacqui Vallin, earned a £20,594 (11.4%) pay rise to take her salary up to £198,406 in 2009/10.

The figures for Southfields Community College in south-west London were obtained from a Wandsworth Council report, the union said.

A total of 11 head teachers in London were identified by the union as earning more than £150,000.

The pay details emerged after it emerged last week that the Government is considering proposals to cap head teachers' salaries.

Under the proposals being considered by Education Secretary Michael Gove no school leader would be paid more than the Prime Minister, who currently earns £142,500 following a pay cut.

The top of the pay scale for head teachers is £109,000 for those working in the largest London state schools, but governors are allowed to offer more.

In a letter to Anne Wright, chairwoman of the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) which helps set teachers' pay, Mr Gove said he was seeking views on proposals to impose an upper limit, and on his view that the salary "should not exceed that of the Prime Minister".

Around 100 heads are thought to be earning more than £150,000, the Times Educational Supplement (TES) reported.

Head teachers of semi-independent academy schools are not subject to the same pay scales as other state schools and often earn six-figure salaries, with many receiving performance bonuses.

The STRB does not cover academy pay.

Both Tidemill and Southfields expressed interest in academy status, according to the GMB.

Ted Purcell, GMB public services officer, said: "It is outrageous that a head teacher in a local community school should earn more money than the Prime Minister.

"A pay rise of over £20,000 for one head in Wandsworth is a downright disgrace and a slap in the face for GMB members now facing a pay freeze.

"There is a complete lack of accountability when schools are opted out of local authority control.

"This demonstrates that opposition to academy status is well founded as these new schools will be a law unto themselves.

"GMB want to see all schools being excellent local schools accountable to parents, the community and locally elected politicians."

Chris Keates, general secretary of NASUWT, said the teaching union had been "raising growing concerns" relating to regulation and pay "for years".

And she said the earnings of academy principals and so-called executive headteachers who "run" more than one school represented "unacceptable secret gardens in the education system".

"The coalition Government's recently announced proposal to impose a cap so that heads can't earn more than the Prime Minister is grossly wide of the mark of what is required," she said.

"This is a systemic problem. There needs to be publication of headteachers' pay and rewards, proper scrutiny by local authorities and a detailed review of the system by the School Teachers' Review Body.

"We have already warned the coalition Government that the last thing schools need are more freedoms and deregulation to create the conditions for even more excessive payments and rewards to be made."

Lewisham Council said Mr Elms' basic salary for 2009/10 was £82,714.37.

He received additional income of £102,955 for work on a Government programme - £51,997.50 for 2009/10 and a backdated payment of £50,957.50 for 2008/09.

He collected a further £10,000 for out-of-hours work and arrears of £9,317.00 for work undertaken in 2008/09.

A council spokesman said: "Governing bodies are responsible for setting headteachers' pay in line with the national guidelines in the Schoolteachers' Pay and Conditions Document.

"The local authority has investigated the high pay levels set by this governing body and issued them with formal, confidential advice which they are now considering."







Lewisham Council said Mr Elms' basic salary for 2009/10 was £82,714.37.



He received additional income of £102,955 for work on a Government programme - £51,997.50 for 2009/10 and a backdated payment of £50,957.50 for 2008/09.



He collected a further £10,000 for out-of-hours work and arrears of £9,317.00 for work undertaken in 2008/09.



A council spokesman said: "Governing bodies are responsible for setting headteachers' pay in line with the national guidelines in the Schoolteachers' Pay and Conditions Document.



"The local authority has investigated the high pay levels set by this governing body and issued them with formal, confidential advice which they are now considering."

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