Are school heads worth £102k?

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SHEFFIELD’S best-paid headteacher earns a salary of over £102,000 a year - while the highest-paid primary head receives more than £78,000.

The figures, obtained as part of The Star’s Your Right to Know campaign, reveal wide wage disparities across the city’s schools.

For while the top pay cheque in the primary sector is £78,000, at least one secondary school principal is receiving far less at under £68,000.

Today the city’s schools supremo Dr Sonia Sharp said details of each head’s pay should be freely available - so they could be held accountable by parents and the public.

That view was echoed by the Taxpayers’ Alliance, who said parents should be able to decide for themselves whether they are getting good value for money.

The lowest-paid primary head receives just under £47,000 a year, while the lowest-paid special school head gets £57,000. The best-paid gets £74,500.

Sheffield’s best-paid ‘executive’ head receives £97,590 a year. So-called ‘superheads’ take charge of struggling schools, or may run more than one.

Heads’ salaries are decided by governing bodies, and are in part determined by the number of pupils in a school.

Headteachers point out they are senior managers in charge of scores of staff and large budgets. An average city secondary has an income of over £6 million a year.

David Conway, head at Bradfield School, said he had a budget of £4.5m and 100 staff, and was responsible for the life chances of 900 students.

“There is increasingly a ‘football manager syndrome’ in the profession - if results are not achieved people do not stay in their job. The reward must equal the risk,” he said.

“It is estimated also secondary heads work an average of 60 hours a week - I have just completed a 65-hour week - so it is not a nine to three job.”

Dr Sharp, the city’s executive director for children and young people, said it was vital schools could attract and retain high calibre staff.

“But, as with all public sector pay, salaries must be consistent and transparent,” she said.

“I believe headteachers’ pay should be publicly accountable - though it should reflect the fact it is a hard job where pressures seem to be increasing all the time.”

Robert Oxley, campaign manager of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, agreed. “Taxpayers should be able to judge for themselves whether they’re getting value for money,” he said.

Alan Woodman, head at Valley Park Primary at Herdings, who has an annual budget of £1.5m, said primary principals were mostly paid at lower end of the scale revealed by The Star.

“Pay increases are determined by how well you are doing, with your performance checked regularly,” he said.

Star readers were mixed in their views.

Jill Fitzpatrick, 39, a mum-of-three from Bradway, said: “£102,000 seems high. Teachers are always striking for more pay, so you expect them to be underpaid.”

Emergency services worker Amy Stoddard, 38, from Greenhill, said: “I think it’s outrageous - teachers get 13 weeks’ annual leave! These days headteachers are just number crunchers employed to make the figures look good.”

But Kevan Smith, 55, from the Manor, said: “I’m a parent governor at Pipworth Primary and I think headteachers earn their money.

“There’s so much more to the job these days - our head is there all hours. Heads these days are far more than just heads.”

In numbers

£102,000 - salary of the best paid Sheffield secondary school headteacher

£78,000 - the wage of the highest paid primary head

£142,500 - the Prime Minister’s salary

£65,738 - the wage an MP receives