Leader magazineASCL - Association of School and College Leaders

Delivering the message

a £20 note paper plane

I would like to wish Sue Kirkham good luck with her presidential year. I am pleased that she is already talking like a union representative - that is, raising the issue of the pay and conditions of heads and leadership teams.

Throughout my 24-year career, I have never been motivated by money. I was more interested in taking on a new challenge and expanding my experience, to see if I could do the job and have an impact.

Ironically it is only since becoming a head of a really great urban secondary school, when I am 'earning' more money than ever (my farm labourer father would have had to work eight years to earn one year of my salary), that I feel underpaid.

I love my job and I work with some wonderful people. We are full of energy and passion for our students and our school, and yet I have never experienced such high degrees of anxiety and stress in my life as in the last two years as we have struggled with recruitment and retention and long term staff absences, several due to stress.

I do not need to outline the impact that these things have on standards and behaviour.

The demands and public expectations of the job are huge and we are expected to implement these enormous agendas within ridiculous time scales and manage staff morale and motivation.

It seems to me that heads are doing everything that they are being asked to do, and more, and yet there is no significant financial recognition of the high stakes accountability game that we are in.

My school has just become a specialist science school and we are also in the throes of Building Schools for the Future - both wonderfully exciting and fascinating projects, but taxing in the extreme in terms of time, energy and commitment.

The Leicester BSF team are fantastic and have involved heads all the way through which means that our passion for the education of our students will permeate the new designs of our schools. This is good.

However, the LEA has brought in a whole raft of consultants, costing hundreds of thousands of pounds, to increase their capacity to deliver BSF, whilst the four heads in phase one have been given £2,000 per school in recognition of the months of additional work and pressure on their school's capacity to deliver. It is as if our time is free.

I see this replicated again and again as headteachers are increasingly being pulled away from their schools to do work that would previously have been done by highly resourced LEAs.

My school is off to the best start of the year that any of us can remember. We are fully staffed with some fantastic new appointments, we have appointed cover supervisors, additional funding from specialist status means we have seven beautiful new maths rooms and three new science labs, and behaviour has been really good. We have a new business manager who is going to revolutionise my life. Everybody is optimistic.

However, we also are having to spend hours looking at how we can implement TLRs with integrity, and in a way which will move the school forward but not leave too many people damaged and dismayed. It is with trepidation that I enter the consultation phase.

At the same time my fantastic leadership team's salaries are falling behind those on the teaching pay spine and I am not sure how I can find the resources to reward them more commensurately.

I am hugely committed to my job, my colleagues, my school and to Leicester. I have been chair of the EiC Partnership, chair of one of the Collaborative Zones, on the schools forum and am currently chair of Leicester Creative Partnerships. I am usually a pretty positive, enthusiastic doer, not a whinger.

However, for too long I feel that SHA has been too accommodating with government. I think we should be rattling cages more noisily and that SHA should be the loudest.

Too often I feel that SHA is more concerned with shaping national policy (which is not necessarily a bad thing) and making poor policies work rather than putting its collective foot down and saying 'enough': performance management is a case in point.

So well done to Sue Kirkham for making pay and workload a core issue, and to John Dunford for raising it in the Times Educational Supplement. I hope that by the end of Sue's presidential year, the powers that be will have heard and absorbed the message.

Liz Logie is head of Beaumont Leys School, Leicester

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