Policy on pay is well wide of the target

14th March 1997 at 00:00
Governing bodies all over the country are wrestling with the task of setting targets for headteachers and deputies. New guidance from government has decreed that no head or deputy can be moved up the pay spine unless he or she has met targets set by the governors.

At first glance the ruling seems to make sense. Governors, it seems, have in some cases been all too ready to give their headteachers a pay rise, and this is causing concern.

Heads have been known to complain to their governors that they have not had a pay rise for several years. What they actually mean is that they have not moved up the pay spine. Well-meaning governors, only too aware of their headteacher's workload (some heads are very good at laying this on with a trowel), agree to an increase. Teachers have had pay rises above the level of inflation in recent years - more than many people in industry have received - but for some reason heads do not see this as a pay rise.

Setting targets may seem on the face of it quite simple. Schools are continually being encouraged to raise standards. Increasing the number of students getting five or more A-C grades at GCSE, reducing the level of absence, and implementing anti-bullying policies are all regarded as signs of improvement. The difficulty comes when one has to credit a single person with that improvement. The meeting of all these targets rests with a number of teachers, and identifying one particular person as having been responsible is not simple. It is just conceivable that one could even give some of the credit to the governors.

Even if governors do manage to set effective targets, what happens when these are met? The headteacher and deputy will ex-pect to be moved up the pay spine if they have fulfilled the criteria. This could mean heads moving up the spine year on year, but surely the measures were put in place to prevent just this scenario.

The heads' and deputies' pay spine is not designed to be incremental. Increases in pay come through the rises awarded each year by government. If heads are to move inexorably up the spine, then why not other teachers who have reached the top of their scale?

The writer is a governor of a school in the Midlands

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