Transfer agents to take heads to a higher league

9th May 2008 at 01:00
Talent scouts and middlemen could net school leaders pound;25,000 pay rises
Talent scouts and middlemen could net school leaders pound;25,000 pay rises

The cut-throat world of superheads and super salaries now has a new player: the transfer agent.

As in football, they will negotiate with schools and local authorities to win pay rises of between pound;10,000 and pound;25,000 a year for their clients, the headteachers.

A shortage of good school leaders means they can increasingly name their price. And because heads can be suddenly sacked if they do not deliver results, agents are also negotiating "risk dividends".

At the same time, talent scouts are searching for newly qualified teachers in their early twenties who might make future school leaders.

Nigel Middleton, one of the new breed of heads' transfer agents, said a market in school leaders parallel to that in the Premiership had been growing over the past nine months.

"It's getting to the point where I'll be saying to governing bodies, 'Swindon's very interested in my client - I'd be interested in what your proposals are to retain him'."

Mr Middleton said schools could offer heads retention incentives such as bumping them up the pay scale by about pound;10,000 in secondaries, or pound;6,000 in primaries.

He said the only way to avert the leadership crisis would be to agree such pay rises and let heads work part time, allowing them to do consultancy work, lead another school, or play golf.

Mr Middleton believes experienced primary heads earning about pound;55,000 in places such as Eastbourne looked to London and realised they could earn pound;80,000 for their final working years before retiring on an enhanced final-salary pension.

He said: "The transfer agents will be paying visits to governing bodies that can't find heads, saying: 'I've got someone down the road who can help you, but you're going to have to pay for it.'"

Mr Middleton is now negotiating on behalf of one primary head who has been offered pound;70,000 to lead a London school and oversee several others. The agent is confident of settling on pound;85,000.

The National Association of Head Teachers warned at its conference this week that stress, illness and marriage breakdown among overworked heads was making it hard to encourage young teachers into leadership.

The union proposed pay incentives and free public transport for all London teachers as incentives.

NAHT conference, page 14 Pay analysis, page 22.

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