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20% pay hike ushers in era of pound;200k heads

Deal in sight as government accepts salary recommendation for elite leaders

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Wages for elite school leaders are to soar by up to 20 per cent, heralding an era of pound;200,000 headteachers.

The increase will be paid to heads who take on extra responsibilities by running more than one school on a permanent or temporary basis.

With principals of individual academies understood to be already earning more then pound;150,000 a year, plus the possibility of performance-related bonuses, a 20 per cent hike will see salaries approach the pound;200,000 mark.

The rise was recommended by the School Teachers' Review Body, the official pay body, and accepted by Ed Balls, the Schools Secretary.

A call for all teachers to receive a pay rise of 2.3 per cent from this September was also accepted by the Government.

The 2.3 per cent deal confirmed a recommendation first made last year. It is still open to review, but is now thought unlikely to change.

The teaching unions had been lobbying for a bigger rise, claiming it was needed to recruit and retain quality staff.

The deals come at a time of historically low inflation, with the retail price index, the most common measure used in pay claims, in a downward spiral. It currently stands at zero per cent and is expected to fall even further.

The rise for executive heads in charge of multiple schools was welcomed by unions, which said the official pay structure had failed to keep pace with their duties.

"These are the people at the top of the profession and it is right that they should be well paid, like doctors or lawyers," said John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders.

"Heads called on to lead several schools need to be rewarded because that helps to bring talented young people into the profession."

But Dr Dunford criticised the 20 per cent maximum. "I would not advocate a doubling of salary, but governors should be the judge of the appropriate pay, without an artificial limit," he said.

Mr Balls said he would welcome further evidence on whether an upper limit was appropriate in the "very largest schools".

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said that without a guaranteed increase heads risked being exploited.

"I know heads who have been asked to take on the leadership of an additional school and when they asked what was in it for them were just told it would look good on their CV. That is not acceptable," he said.

The number of executive heads has risen considerably in recent years, with ministers keen to push the idea of school federations.

The National College for School Leadership said about 350 schools are currently in federations. More than 700 schools do not currently have a permanent leader.

The number of federations is expected to continue to increase with the looming shortage of heads.

Figures released this week by John Howson, a teacher recruitment expert, showed there had been no reduction in schools having to re-advertise heads' positions.

Corin Taylor, senior policy adviser at the Institute of Directors, said problems in the economy made big increases for executive headteachers "completely unacceptable".

"With pay falling and jobs being lost, the public sector needs to tighten its belt too," he said.

`Recession no excuse'

The NUT is demanding a 10 per cent salary rise for teachers, plus a one- off payment of almost pound;1,400 for the average classroom teacher.

Acting general secretary Christine Blower warned the Government not to use the recession as an "excuse" for a low deal.

The union staged a national strike last year over pay.

Reacting to the 2.3 per cent recommendation, she said: "We don't think it's sufficient, but that does not mean in itself that we will seek industrial action."

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