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Female principals overtake the men

This is the season of the year - during August and September - when most governing bodies review the pay of principals and other senior postholders. Many refer to the most authoritative study on management pay in further education: the annual survey published each spring by the Association of Colleges.

The study, which also covers senior and middle managers on the management pay spine, is carried out for the association by a private firm called Payskills. Two copies are sent to each college that takes part, but the association asks governors andprincipals to keep it confidential.

This year's survey, which includes details of what managers were being paid in December 1999, was based on returns from 425 colleges. Noindividual college or postholder is identified in more than 70 pages of charts and tables.

Among the more interesting findings this year is news that salaries for female principals are moving slightly ahead of those for men.

In 1998, the median base salary for both male and female principals stood at about pound;60,000. By December 1999, the median for females had risen by 4.2 per cent to pound;62,500 while, for male principals, it rose by 3 per cent to pound;61,812.

Medians, of course,can be highly misleading. The AOC report breaks the pay of principals and other managers down according to region and size of college. They are measured according to their total annual expenditure.

In colleges spending less than pound;3 million, the median base salary for principals is pound;50,868; in those that spend more than pound;25m, it is pound;80,000.

One in five principals is given a car as part of their benefits package, while 13 per cent are eligible for bonuses. Private health care is more commonly provided at all management levels (34 per cent of principals and 26 per cent of deputies or vice-principals), but not to the same extent as that particular perk is awarded in the private sector.

The AOC survey covers four levels of management. The median base salary for deputies or vice-principals at level two is pound;45,180 although, as with principals, there are significant variations.

Assistant principals at level three (including managers responsible for areas such as resources, finance and personnel) receive a median base salary of pound;36,831. Level four managers (commonly referred to as middle managers, and frequently heads of faculty or department) receive a median base salary of pound;29,994.

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