The Department for Education dropped a project designed to help school governors decide the pay of senior leaders, according to the National Governors’ Association (NGA).
The School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) recommended in 2014 that the government “explore further the options for collating suitable benchmark data [on leadership pay], and making it available to governing bodies”.
However, NGA chief executive Emma Knights said that, despite civil servants spending months on the project, the DfE ditched the idea because it did not want to appear too prescriptive.
She said: “The officials did start a project looking at this. It went on for quite some months. We were just assuming it was going to happen.
“It was probably a year later that they said they were told not to do this.
“It was not published; we did not even see a draft. We were just told this had been dropped. We have been mentioning it every which way since.”
In written evidence that was submitted to the STRB in December 2016, the NGA said that it was “concerned about some of the decisions governing boards are making in relation to leadership pay and the differentials this is creating between senior leaders and other staff in the school”.
It added: “The NGA remains disappointed that the DfE chose (after some considerable work had been conducted by officials) not to make benchmarking figures available for leadership pay.”
Ms Knights said the NGA raised the issue again last month in oral evidence to the STRB.
No rules for executive pay
The Department for Education said that there are no rules for how academy trusts should set executive pay.
At an Education Select Committee hearing on multi-academy trusts last November, the schools minister, Lord Nash, also admitted that the government lacked the power in most circumstances to overturn academy pay awards that it deemed to be excessive. “If we felt someone was being overpaid, we do not have the power, unless there is particularly an issue with the school, to stop it,” he said.
A DfE spokesperson said that trusts could look at two sets of guidance for local authority maintained schools – the school teachers’ pay and conditions document and Staffing and Employment Advice for Schools. However, there was no obligation for academies to follow either.