The secondary school with the largest leadership group in England, as a proportion of its teaching workforce, is The Hawthorne’s Free School in Merseyside. According to the school workforce survey, in November 2016 10 of its 20 teaching staff were on the leadership pay range.
Sir Iain Hall, chief executive of the Great Schools Trust, which runs The Hawthorne’s, says the figure is so high because the school has been reducing its workforce “because of a low intake”.
Many of its teachers are heads of department “with nobody in their department”, he tells Tes.
Sir Iain says that looking at SLT size “doesn’t work for small schools”, and it is not a fair way to measure their financial efficiency.
Micon Metcalfe, a school finance director and fellow of the National Association of School Business Management, says that newer schools often have oversized SLTs because they recruit a full complement of leaders before growing their teaching workforce.
“You might fill senior head of department posts first, and they may be having quite a big teaching commitment still,” she says. “You want the right people at the right level to develop your curriculum.”
Dame Alice Owen’s School in Hertfordshire – the Sunday Times state secondary of the year for 2017 – proportionally had the smallest leadership group in the country. Of the 117 teachers working at the school in November 2016, just four were on the leadership pay range. But this had happened out of necessity rather than because the school had preferred a slimmed-down leadership team.
Stephen Fry, Dame Alice Owen’s deputy head, says “financial pressure” had led the school to cut its SLT. “None of the options of streamlining costs are regarded as beneficial to the school, but it’s a case of what’s going to have the least negative impact,” he says. Fry adds that, while his school’s SLT is small, it is buttressed by middle leadership.
“We have lots of support from the middle leaders. We have secondments to the SLT each year – they help us out and assist us but they’re not on the leadership scale.”
Jonathan Owen and Will Hazell