Ofsted chief gets 34% rise

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The Independent Online
TEACHERS' UNION leaders reacted angrily yesterday after Chris Woodhead, the chief inspector of schools, was reappointed for four years and handed a pay rise of nearly pounds 30,000 a year.

Union leaders attacked the 34 per cent increase, which takes Mr Woodhead's salary from pounds 86,000 to pounds 115,000 a year. He will also get performance bonuses of up to 10 per cent, which could take his pay to pounds 126,500.

By contrast the six largest teaching unions said that teachers' pay had risen by just 0.2 per cent since 1992 in real terms, compared with an average 7.4 per cent increase for other non-manual staff. They submitted a joint claim for a "substantial" pay rise, saying it was essential to end the crisis in teacher recruitment.

Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said Mr Woodhead's rise would "set the teachers' pay issue on fire".

The Government defended Mr Woodhead's rise, saying his salary was in line with other regulators.

Mr Woodhead, who has been head of the schools inspectorate Ofsted since 1994, has provoked intense controversy with his repeated attacks on "trendy" teaching methods. He angered teachers by claiming that 15,000 were incompetent.

Criticism has also come from some local authorities, teacher training specialists and educational researchers, who have all complained about their treatment at the hands of inspectors.

Mr Woodhead defended his salary increase, claiming to have been underpaid in the past. "I think it is a reasonable pay increase," he said. "It is a salary that is comparable to that paid to senior figures working for the Government.

"I am proud of the contribution Ofsted has made to the Government's drive to raise educational standards. It is a reflection of the hard work of all my staff and I now look forward to overseeing the continuation and development of this work."

The Department for Education and Employment insisted that Mr Woodhead's salary was less than the pounds 143,000 paid to the head of the Office of Fair Trading and the Rail Regulator's salary of pounds 139,000.

David Blunkett, Education Secretary, praised Ofsted's work, and said the inspectorate should work to raise classroom morale. But Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said: "Teachers will be furious about Chris Woodhead's pay increase, particularly as they are already underpaid."

Doug McAvoy, leader of the National Union of Teachers, added: "The chief inspector has a low way to go to recapture teachers' confidence. My advice to him is to spin less and listen more. The level of increase in his pay is the kind of substantial increase deserved by teachers."

Dr John Dunford, president of the Secondary Heads Association, said it was an "insult" to teaching staff.

Don Foster, the Liberal Democrat Education spokesman, said Mr Blunkett had made "an appalling decision," insisting that Mr Woodhead's job should have been advertised openly.

The debate over Mr Woodhead's role will be reopened next month when the powerful Commons Education Select Committee begins an inquiry into Ofsted.