One of Birmingham’s most successful school leaders has called for the education wage structure to be revamped along business lines so headteachers who hit performance targets are rewarded in the same way as chief executives of private firms.
Jane Hattatt, head of Lordswood Girls’ School and Specialist Centre for Media Arts in Harborne, said it was wrong that poorly-performing heads were on the same pay scale as those who were excelling. She claimed the current system gave little incentive to heads of failing schools to do better.
Her call was supported by the national head of the Association of School and College Leaders, Dr John Dunford.
Ms Hattatt, who is retiring at the end of this term after 19 years in charge of Lordswood, is one of only 120 heads recognised by the Government as National Leaders of Education, whose role includes advising ministers on education policy.
During her time at Lordswood she has turned the non-selective, mixed ability school into the sixth best-performing in Birmingham for GCSE results. It was recently judged “outstanding” by Ofsted and five years ago came top nationally for its value added score, measuring the progress pupils make from entry to taking their GCSEs.
Ms Hattatt said extra payment for achievement was consistent with a greater emphasis put on schools to operate like businesses.
“In business if you don’t make a profit that is it,” she said.“It has always been said that education is not like that, but now it’s the order of the day. So you have to be remunerated accordingly. A head at a school this size will be paid the same whether a school is succeeding or failing. No business would operate like that.
“They would say ‘what is in my bonus?’ What is in my commission? In 2003 we were number one for value added in the entire country. Where was our bonus?
“In any other business that would have been a cracking achievement.”
Ms Hattatt claimed introducing performance-related pay for headteachers might help solve a recruitment crisis finding new heads.
Last month the National College of School Leadership warned as many as 55 per cent of headteachers could retire within the next four years.
Ms Hattatt said not enough teachers were coming forward to take on the role because they believed the pressure of the job was not worth the pay, especially at schools in challenging areas.
She added extra money to spend on resources at schools that were performing well could also be an incentive for raising attainment and would make pupils feel more involved in the success
“Sometimes I feel the pupils here feel it might be quite nice if they got a bit extra, possibly they could really make good use of it. We want all schools to be like this one. But you can’t inspire that if they don’t say that some incentive, remuneration or reward is given to successful schools.
“They are just going to run out of resources to carry on improving.”
Dr Dunford said Ms Hattatt was “absolutely spot on” and claimed it made sense to financially reward successful school leaders – particularly those that were leading more than one school.
“The support for schools in difficulty from successful headteachers has increased considerably in the last two or three years,” he said.
“The pay structure has not caught up with hat is happening and governing bodies have to make it up as they go along. What we are saying is extend the pay scales for the highly successful head teachers who are helping to improve more than one school.”
Dr Dunford said the same principle should also apply to heads who were successful at just their own school. According to the Database of Teacher Records, the most up-to-date figures show the average salary of a headteacher in 2006 was £52,100. For a deputy head it was £44,600.