27 April 2011
Top pay in academies
A new survey by the Labour Research Department (LRD) confirms what appears to be an emerging trend in school leaders' pay - that pay for senior staff in academies is outpacing that of their local authority counterparts.
The May issue of the LRD's flagship journal Labour Research, the UK magazine for trade unionists, provides details of academy top salaries held by Companies House. The LRD survey covered 77 individual "stand-alone" academies, and a further 13 academy groupings (covering a total of 74 institutions), where companies control a number of individual academies.
The research finds that fully half of the academies surveyed were paying their principal (or equivalent senior employee) more than ?110,000 a year in 2008-09, with an even higher proportion paying more than ?100,000. By comparison, at that point, only 8% of secondary schools were paying heads at salary levels worth between ?100,000-?107,000 or more (an LRD estimate based on teachers' pay statistics).
Median pay levels for secondary heads in general stood at ?76,675 throughout most of England and Wales, ?85,558 around the fringe of London, ?85,364 in outer London and ?95,583 in inner London.
As Labour Research points out: "Pay for school leaders at these levels could hardly be said to be in banker league." However, the survey's findings do seem to confirm recent union claims that, although increasing numbers of school leaders are reckoned to be earning six-figure sums, a much higher proportion of these senior staff are in the relatively new academy sector.
The recent annual conference of the NASUWT teachers' union heard that academies - which can set their own pay and conditions - are awarding school leaders huge salaries.
The survey found that at individual stand-alone academies, the highest top pay levels ranged from:
In academy groupings, the highest rates were likely to be for company executives rather than principals. Even so, at the Harris Federation of South London Schools - where the highest-paid employee was on £210,000-£220,000 - a further six employees earned between £110,000 and £180,000.
The findings seem to bear out a National Audit Office (NAO) report, The academies programme, published last September, which stated that "there is a significant differential between senior salaries in the maintained sector and those reported in the accounts of academy trusts".
Notes for editors
Download: Top pay in academies (pdf file, 100KB)