EdCo News Round Up November 2019

Scrutinise headteacher pay, says highest earning academy boss

On the back of a Sunday Times investigation into head teachers and academic trust leaders' salaries, the top earner on the Times' list has called for more scrutiny over school leader pay. Sir Dan Moynihan, whose salary and benefits package for his role as leader of the Harris Federation is in the region of £550,000, defended his own pay package in an interview with TES but said that the large salaries of heads who run only one or two schools should be "looked at".

"What matters is the outcomes for kids and if we're managing our budgets efficiently and the kids are getting a good deal," Sir Dan said. "If you've got very large salaries and it's one school or two schools, that needs a closer look, i think. But it's different when there is a large number of schools and [the trust] is doing well and disadvantaged kids are making progress."

Financial accounts earlier this year revealed that the head of Holland Park School, a single-academy trust, raised it's leader's salary to £260,000 this year. It was one of the chains that received a letter from the academies minister in February which called in trust to work with the government to tackle the "issue" of high pay.

A report last year from the Public Accounts Committee last year said that academy trusts pay their bosses "unjustifiably high salaries", and that the money could be better spent on improving children's education. In his interview with TES, Sir Dan was asked if the cost saving measures he had introduced had covered the cost of his salary. "I have to be very circumspect in what i say here", Sir Dan responded. "Whatever i say i'll be killed for". 

Exclusive: Probe high academy pay, says £550k Moynihan (TES)
Some school salaries are too big, says highest earner (The Times)
Academy boss paid £550,00 calls for greater scruitiny of head teacher pay (The Independent) 

Technical schools failing: 'half full and perform less well'

Technical schools in England have received millions of pounds in public funding, but many get poorer results than other secondary schools and are only half full, the National Audit Office (NAO) has warned.

University Technical Colleges (UTCs) are a type of free school, generally teaching pupils between 14 and 19. They are designed so employers and universities can jointly provide technical education, in subjects such as engineering, science technology and healthcare. The NAO has found that they are less likely than other equivalent schools to be rated as 'good' or 'outstanding' by inspectors.

The NAO found that between 2010-11 and 2018-19 the Department for Education has spent £792m on the UTC initiative, with 58 opening over the last nine years. Of those, 10 have now closed as UTCs, and now of the 48 still operational, they were at an average capacity of 45%. The report found that 4,863 students were attending UTCs considered by Ofsted to be inadequate or required improving. 

The DfE responded by highlighting that 21% of UTC pupils progress into apprenticeships after completing their post-16 education, which is more that double the national average of 6%.

DfE's attempts to salvage UTCs are failing as deficits soar (Schools Week) 

Northern and ‘underperforming’ schools penalised by progress 8, research shows...

More details about pupils’ backgrounds should be taken into consideration when compiling secondary school league tables in England, new research claims. The study found that a fifth of schools would see their national league table position change by over 500 places if factors such as eligibility for free meals, residential deprivation and whether English is a first language were to be considered.

The researchers, from the Centre for Multilevel Modelling at Bristol University, claim that schools should be judged on a more contextual Progress 8 measure that considers factors other than academic progress that can play a part in school achievement. With such a change, 51% of schools currently judged to be ‘underperforming’ against standard accountability measures would move out of this category.

"The high-average Progress 8 score seen in London halves when we adjust for pupil background" the report says. "In contrast, the low-average Progress 8 score seen in the north-east improves substantially after adjustment, due to the high proportion of poor pupils taught in this region".

The Department for Education says that Progress 8, as it currently is assessed, is a fair measure that helps parents to chose schools. They assert that the measure helps to recognise schools that make good progress with lower attaining pupils, and to identify schools not doing enough with high-performing students.

Half of 'under-preforming' schools better when progress 8 includes pupil background (Schools Week)
Pupil background 'should be part of league tables' (BBC)
More than half of 'under-preforming schools would improve if pupil backgrounds were considered, study finds (The Independent)
Northern schools 'penalised by Progress 8 tables' (TES)