There are two things of note in the Mark Elms being paid over £200k whilst a primary head, one of which is highlighted in yesterday’s superb piece by David Mitchell, his best yet: the arbitrary nature of comparing salaries with the Prime Minister. The other is the fact that Elms appears to have been paid almost £10k in “overtime”. Even ignoring the difficulty of calculating these hours whilst he is earning £100k consultancy alongside his “day job”, teaching is professional work and the salary is pay for the duties; at least this is the argument that is used for most teachers (how many of Elms’ staff get to claim overtime because they spent Saturday marking?). Like Mitchell I believe that a brilliant surgeon or barrister being paid highly would be what is expected but equally they would not be paid for the work they do, not “extra hours”. And similarly for the daft comparison that started this: the Prime Minister doesn’t claim overtime.
The “benchmark” is particularly silly when you consider the renumeration the Prime Minister receives directly from the public purse whist in office is a fraction of the value the office holder will realise (lucrative publishing deals and speaking engagements at the very least will inevitably follow) whereas for all teachers (not just heads) they are getting a real salary that reflects the full payment they will get for the work they are doing, work that is serious and challenging. And if Mark Elms is seen to be worth his salary (which is £80k not £240k) the important fact is that many teachers work just as hard for a lot less: and this should not mean overtime payments but recognition for the work they do in terms of improved conditions as well as pay.