How should MATs set the pay for their CEOs? Comment by IAN ARMITAGE, chairman, SGOSS – Governors for Schools

From September, multi-academy trusts must show that their decisions about executive pay levels have followed a ‘robust, evidence-led’ process, reflective of the individual’s roles and responsibilities. Already a record number of users of The Key – national information service for school leaders – are asking how they might do this in practice, especially in light of controversy over senior executive pay levels at certain MATs and in the wider economy.

Compensation is an important lever in any organisation, especially those in education where staff costs represent between 75% and 85% of total costs and revenues. Indeed it is doubly important in schools where the quality of labour is the main driver of outcomes, progress and attainment.

Arriving at a position where every Board of Trustees is confident in the decisions it makes on compensation is not easy at the best of times and decidedly tricky in a climate of change, but Trustees with professional involvements outside of education can bring useful experience to the table. Here is some of the advice they can offer and expand upon.

Conduct meaningful pay reviews

Pay reviews need to be accompanied by the conclusions of current performance reviews, together with an assessment of each person’s potential and development needs.

Embrace variable compensation

Organisations which pay the same amount to everyone doing the same job, but where outputs vary significantly, will tend to lose their best performers.

Weigh internal differentials as highly as external ones Trustees who undertake effective remuneration reviews understand and manage two common defects in the operation of a remuneration

committee. The first of these is ‘averaging’ - when almost everybody sits in the ‘satisfactory’ band, with a few people judged as ‘outstanding;’ but none as ‘unsatisfactory’, which leads to a drift towards unfair awards. Asking some key questions such as ‘who would we hate to lose and why?’, and ‘who would we be happy to see leave us and why?’ will help to focus the mind of the decision maker.

Secondly, consider what some observers call ‘Gaposis’ - the phenomenon of widening pay differentials, which has reached absurd proportions today in many businesses. It starts when the differential between the CEO and other colleagues on the senior team widens, followed by the gap between the senior team and their staff. It happens because excessive weight is placed on external benchmarking as part of ‘a robust, evidence-led process’ and not enough weight is placed on internal differentials and performance.

Align compensation schemes with objectives, culture and values. In the private sector it is easy to link rewards to objectives. In education, like other third sector activity, we are pursuing some form of beneficial social impact. For schools, the focus is on attainment, progress, preparing students so they can live happy and fulfilled lives and increasing the value communities place on the schools that serve them. Turning to culture and values - it is certainly wise to reward people who carry these and demonstrate them every day - they make a positive difference. The reverse applies to those who fall short.

Express gratitude

Saying ‘thank you’ is an under-used form of compensation. Sincerely meant expressions of gratitude lift everybody. Remember we work to make money and have fun. Giving and receiving thanks is important and should be encouraged.

Getting induction right for NQTs through to new heads

Comment by DENISE INWOOD, former senior school leader, now managing director of BlueSky S

uccessfully introducing new colleagues into the school organisation is a critical process. From NQTs to senior leaders, getting induction right ensures staff are clear about their new role, confident in their practice and effective in their performance. Get this right and their impact on learners will be as positive and speedy as possible.

No one school is the same – each will have subtle differences and its own sub-culture – but this is often overlooked. A good example here concerns the way in which staff speak to students – what degree of formality – or informality- is ok? And what is acceptable behaviour and language from a student? Making sure new staff know the drill, by providing them with a clear understanding of what is permissible behaviour and language-wise (including body language) around the school is just as important as ensuring that they are au fait with wider curriculum issues.

If people don’t feel part of the culture it makes delivery of their key skills very difficult. All new staff will find it very difficult to get off to a strong start otherwise

This advice applies to staff at all levels – the key difference being that senior leaders will adapt more quickly and have a tried and tested set of strategies to use, whereas a far less experienced NQT will probably need more support here. This is where an induction mentor can be particularly helpful by keeping in regular contact with a new member of staff, any questions and issues quickly, consistently and without fear of judgment. Having an induction process which empowers and involves staff ensures

September 2017

that they feel part of the organisation much more quickly and understand its ethos and commitment to them as professionals.

In the case of a senior leader, including a head teacher, induction has to be addressed by the whole senior leadership team. There will of course be a formal structure and a set of procedures and practices. But again there will be softer, cultural nuances that may need to be made explicit early on. For example, senior leaders will be dealing with the additional issues involved in managing staff and there may be some work to do in establishing how this generally works. For example, if a senior leader wants to catch up with the head of maths is this typically done in a meeting, or is it ok to have a chat over a coffee?

Where the senior leader is the head teacher there is of course an expectation that the new head will bring his or her own set of expectations with them – but again it will be necessary to work with the existing senior leadership team to establish new ways of working. My advice for any new member of staff is to try and get an idea of a school’s culture and expectations before you apply, to ensure it sits well with you. Simply by sitting outside the school gates at the start and the end of the day and watching what happens generally provides some useful indications! An effective induction programme will also benefit the organisation by reinforcing the process of continual performance reviews, while empowering the new member of staff to lead their own improvement alongside, and in collaboration with, their colleagues. 17

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