Leading principals lag behind on pay

Shining inspection reports are no guarantee of a top salary, reveals latest TES pay survey

The people leading the country's best performing colleges are lagging behind in the pay league, according to the second annual FE Focus survey of principals' pay.

The most comprehensive survey yet of principals' pay packages at 446 UK colleges shows that shining inspection reports alone do not guarantee a top salary.

Only four of 35 colleges acknowledged as top performers (Havering, Lewisham, North Hertfordshire and South Cheshire) appear in the top fifty in terms of principals' pay.

Principals of 11 colleges which have government beacon status and accreditation from the Further Education Funding Council range from 12th (Havering) to 446th (Northern College) place on the pay list. Eight of the top 50 earning principals are in charge of colleges which have had to be reinspected.

Five principals earned six-figure sums in 1998-99, compared with 10 in the previous year's survey, while those earning between pound;90,000 and pound;100,000 doubled to 26.

Top earner was Eddie McIntyre, principal of Birmingham College of Food Tourism and Creative Studies, whose pay package increased from pound;119,000 to pound;125,000. Arthur Cotterell of Kingston College saw his rise from pound;106,000 to pound;122,000 while South East Essex College increased Tony Pitcher's wages from pound;102,356 to pound;110,362.

David Eade at Barnsley College and Dame Patricia Morgan Webb, head of the merged New College, Nottingham, were leading earners last time, but despite taking on increased workloads, both took slight pay cuts.

The principals of Oaklands College, Hertfordshire, and East Berkshire College dopped out of the top 10 after their pay fell by nearly pound;27,000 and pound;8,000 respectively.

The UK's largest college, Sheffield, was ninth biggest payer, but overall income and size was not a reliable indicator of the principal's salary. Although they manage budgets in excess of pound;20 million, the bosses of City College Manchester and Wirral Metropolitan College only received slightly more than pound;60,000 - below the sector average.

Sue Dutton, deputy chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said that governing bodies took into account a number of factors when deciding pay, including type, size and location of college, financial circumstances and length of service of the postholder. "If people are moving into a complex or newly merged institution or one that has had financial difficulties, then in order to attract the most able or experienced person there is likely to be a larger salary."

She added: "All people who work in the sector have significantly lower pay awards than they deserve. There is not one group or another that deserve more. We have got to deal with the disparities."

Nadene Cartner of the Association for College Management, which represents around 200 principals, welcomed the FE Focus survey, saying it would add to the debate over pay. "In comparison with people in other industrial sectors who carry out jobs with similar responsibilities principals are not overpaid."

Figures include salary, pension contribution and taxable benefits. They were provided by Caritas Data, publishers of the "FE Financial Yearbook" and collected from colleges' annual reports for the financial year 1998-9 Pay analysis, 3; pay tables, 6-7

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