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Q Can I be a head of department but be paid on the leadership scale rather than receiving a teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) payment?

A The short answer is yes. But as ever, there are a number of qualifications.

When schools reviewed their staffing structures in autumn 2005, there was a great deal of anxiety about the outcomes. Clearly, there have been winners and losers. My hunch is that there may have been more losers in the primary sector than among secondary staff. What has emerged in secondary schools is two types of salary: those associated with a "rate for the job", and the alternative of a "rate for the school".

Departments such as mathematics and science generally seem to advertise for heads of department on similar salaries regardless of factors such as school size or location. Other subjects, such as music, along with many of the other arts and humanities, have salaries that appear to vary between schools depending on the status of the subject in a particular school.

As to being paid on the leadership scale (which runs from pound;34,083 to pound;95,631 in England and Wales outside London), this is becoming the norm for posts involving "head of sixth form" in the title. There are also attempts to put some departments together into faculties, such as humanities, maths and computing and communication skills, with the pay for the head of the faculty being on the leadership scale. The salary is often some five to 10 points below that paid to assistant heads.

A further variation is to include some school-wide term in the job title, such as director of literacy or numeracy, or responsibility for technology across the curriculum. A further variation is to link the pay to the direction of a school's specialism or even specialisms where there are more than one.

If you are contemplating looking for such a post, do consider the differential between what you would receive in a slightly lower-paid job with a TLR (from pound;2,306 to pound;5,638 for TLR1 and pound;6,663 to pound;11,275 for TLR2), and if you moved on to the leadership scale with a change in conditions of service. The upside is that you would have a pay range and the opportunity to progress which, if you are on U3 (upper pay spine 3, pound;33,444 outside London) plus a TLR you would not have, as you would be restricted to only the cost of living increase, which is likely to be limited over the new few years.

Whether heads of department paid on the leadership scale will be able to advance to deputy headship without having to be an assistant head, it is still too early to tell

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes university. To ask him a question, email him at

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