Q: I want to apply for a job as head of a music department, but I have been surprised by the range of salaries on offer. How does a school decide what to pay? Can I negotiate at interview if I think the salary is lower than I am willing to accept?
A: A number of different factors influence staffing structure. Clearly, departments where there is only one staff member cannot qualify for the higher Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) payment scale as there is no one to be responsible for.
In music there are considerable differences between the salaries schools offer. This is partly due to how important the head and governing body view the subject. Smaller schools will normally pay less than larger ones with more staff.
Extra-curricular activities are regarded by many, especially in music, as a key part of the subject provision, and this may influence the salary.
Normally TLRs are fixed and you cannot negotiate. However, discretionary payments can be made for recruitment and retention, and benefits such as laptops or health insurance offered. It is worth asking, especially where a school is near the boundary of the different scales.
However, you will need to justify either way why you think you are worth more or why you think the school is not paying the going rate for the job.
John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University. To ask him a question, email him at email@example.com