Deptford primary school teacher slated over (inaccurate) '£200k' pay packet

Mark Elms, head teacher of Tidemill Primary School in Deptford, is currently getting a pasting in the national media for earning '£200k a year' ('more than the prime minister!' etc).

Let's get the facts straight first: Mr Elms was paid over £200,000 in 2009/10, including a £51,000 previous-year payment. That takes us to £149,000 which actually relates to 2009/10.
The prime minister is paid £142,500.

Mr Elms' basic salary was £82,714. He was paid around £10k overtime (in the private and third sectors, senior staff aren't usually entitled to receive overtime; I don't know whether this is the case across the public sector too).

Mr Elms was also paid approx. £50k a year for two years' work on a programme introduced by the Labour government to tackle underachievement in disadvantaged areas. From media reports, it's not clear whether this was in addition to his duties as head teacher, or part of them.
According to the school's website: 'Our 2008 results placed us top in Lewisham and 16th in the country for 'value-added' - the measure of the progress children have made since they entered the school. We have been ranked in the top 5 per cent most-improving schools for the last 4 years.'

So, the hysteria over the headline '£200k' figure doesn't appear to be warranted. The wider issue of senior staff pay remains. Schools' governing bodies are free to set senior staff pay levels. Lewisham Council said it had given 'formal advice' to Tidemill's governors; its role in the decision does not extend any further.

However, this does highlight the fact that 'academy' schools - which have opted out of local authority control - are free to act in a more commercially-minded way. Tidemill is considering applying for academy status, according to the GMB union.

Ted Purcell, the GMB union's public services officer, said: 'There is a complete lack of accountability when schools are opted out of local authority control. This demonstrates that opposition to academy status is well-founded, as these new schools will be a law unto themselves.'

Edit: BBC education reporter Hannah Richardson weighs into the debate with some actual facts and background. The two £50k payments were for work on the 'London Challenge and City Challenge project'. This seems to involve helping struggling schools, even going so far as to take a management role if necessary - so yes, he could quite possibly have been doing two jobs at once. The maximum head teacher pay rate for large inner London state schools is £109,000 - well above Mr Elms' £83k basic pay.