Value-added principals;Letter

14th May 1999 at 01:00
CONGRATULATIONS for publishing the salaries paid to FE principals (TESS, April 30). Transparency in these matters is always a good thing. However, if the salary paid to the principal at John Wheatley College was a secret it was very poorly concealed. This information has been in the public domain for years.

However, I write to agree with Marian Healy of the Educational Institute of Scotland about the need for an inquiry into the value for money FE principals' salaries represent. I also write as one of the lowest paid in the sector (who each year persuades his board not to make higher awards).

Your article compared salaries in the FE sector with those paid in higher education. Any inquiry should, of course, also include schools. Such an analysis would naturally also need to be accompanied by a disaggregation of the central costs of local authorities.

Such an exercise would ascribe to each school the real costs of central services such as the chief executive department, legal services, architecture and related services, cleaning and catering services, building and related services, personnel etc (not to mention the costs of the education directorates, advisers and their staff). These are all functions cheerfully and effectively discharged by most college principals in the incorporated FE sector and, if college unit cost data has any meaning, much more cost-effectively than proved to be possible prior to incorporation.

We must make sure that the comparisons are fair. The FE sector has little to fear in this and the exercise might also just spark off a debate about value for money and best value in the local authority sector. I am sure the EIS would wish to support this much broader but potentially more meaningful exercise (after first consulting associated unions in the public sector).

Ian Graham Principal John Wheatley College, Glasgow

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