Tidemill Headteacher: It's A Bit More Complicated Than That

Rachel Holdsworth
By Rachel Holdsworth Last edited 94 months ago
Tidemill Headteacher: It's A Bit More Complicated Than That

tidemilllogo_130710.jpg That howling you can hear is the furore created by the news that Tidemill Primary School headteacher Mark Elms is paid 'over £200k a year'. Brockley Kate does a nice dissection of that figure (briefly: his actual annual salary is £82k; the rest of his 2009/10 pay was made up of overtime, payment due from a previous year, and pay for work on a government programme tackling underachievement in disadvantaged areas). Numbers starting to look a bit less 'outrageous' now?

Tidemill is in Deptford - for all the burgeoning gentrification, it's still an area with large areas of deprivation. Yet in 2008 Ofsted judged it to be an 'outstanding' school, it's 16th nationally for 'value added' and gets overwhelming support from parents - both in its own survey and in this morning's vox pop from the BBC. We should be proud of people like this, willing to work hard in the unloved corners of our cities, for a fraction of the pay they could get working for Goldman Sachs - as our own Jonn Elledge pointed out a month ago.

Last Updated 13 July 2010


"Hurrah!" for common sense, non-sensationalist reporting.


It's always remarkable how the papers cheerfully report on the antics of celebrities who do little to earn staggering sums of money, but will happily beat up on the likes of teachers, doctors, policemen, etc. who do their job well and are rewarded for their work. Why is the concept of paying people well to do important jobs so difficult to understand?


What's also interesting is that his £82k basic salary is significantly less than the maximum permitted for heads in inner London, which can go up to £109k (I presume this applies more to secondary schools).


Also somewhat tiresome to hear EXACTLY THE SAME PEOPLE who will defend ludicrous pay packages for executive failure, then turn round and complain about a six figure salary for a headmaster.

Either inequality is a problem in this country or it isn't. Make your bloody mind up and stop picking on public servants.



That level of 'basic salary' is equal to point L31 on the teachers pay scale. That's in the range for group 8 schools - generally speaking, large comprehensives (1,200 students or more). I'm afraid I don't understand how the head of a 400 student primary school is on that part of the pay scale.

And then there's the 'overtime'. I don't know of any teacher (I'm married to one and we have lots of friends in the profession) who's entitled to overtime pay. I wish my wife was; we'd be rolling in it, the hours she puts in!

The story is clearly more complex than the tabloids are making out, but that doesn't mean there aren't serious questions to be asked about the level of remuneration Mr Elms is enjoying.


It's so good to see some people being sensible in their responses to this issue. However I wish I understood where everyone thinks the evidence for the "for all the burgeoning gentrification" of Deptford is occurring. With a high street jammed with bookies, the gentrification of Deptford is LONG way away.

Pickwick The Dodo

Sorry to be contrary but I think there is a real issue about this headmaster's wages. Before I start, let me just say that almost all teachers are underpaid, undervalued and underdeveloped professionally. The time, money and political will just isn't there to make their lives a whole lot better.

"In 2008 Ofsted judged it to be an 'outstanding' school." Hmmm...
As someone with experience of the education sector at the central and local level, I know that Ofsted reports are highly political. The head of Ofsted is Christine Gilbert, ex-headteacher of a school in a constituency that has been Labour since 1997. Her husband (ex-councillor in said constituency) is Labour Home Minister Tony McNulty (torn apart for his hypocrisy amusingly by the Spectator here: http://www.spectator.co.uk/ale....

Labour sold themselves on educationx3 and were not above championing headteachers, holding them up publically as Labour Stakhanovite heroes and suggesting them for honours. There's nothing wrong with that per se, but similar examples from other areas of public service like the NHS, armed forces and civil service don't readily come to mind.

Similarly the "value added" measure is a pile of tosh.
The value-add is measured as the improvement from key Stage 3 (KS3) to Key Stage 4 (aka GCSEs). The KS3 exams are taken at 14, not externally reported, marked by the school or LEA as far as I remember (feel free to correct) and not independently assessed like GCSEs and A-Levels). KS3s are treated by the schools much like mocks are by the kids: bit of a joke, not a dealbreaker in any way but occasionally a wake-up call for the real slackers. How many of did much better in the real exams compared to the mocks? Did we suddenly grow an extra brain or did we treat them a bit more seriously?
On top of that, value-add is skewed in poorer areas as a larger proportion of the KS3 class are likely to not be around for the KS4 exams in the same school e.g. if they are expelled, deported, rehoused elsewhere or they are part of a travelling community.

As Deptford is painted as place of poor education results, getting the kids from "poor" to "ok" would give the school as much "value added" as a school that raises kids from "ok" to "good". Then again, saying "we produce kids who are 'ok'" isn't going to garner awards or media attention.

Finally, it's great to see that someone is being paid what they deserve. We should remember though that the govt education budget is fixed and likely to reduce in real terms over the course of this budget (anyone want to bet otherwise?). As with every pot of gold, somebody grabbing more means others being given less; others in this case being teachers, pupils or capital budgets. If something had to be sacrificed for such wages, we should know. If Mr Elms' wages came from a special govt fund, we should know the size and future of that fund (otherwise Mr Elms may indeed be heading Cityward before too long).

Lunchtime rant over. Back to work.


Tidemill Headteacher deserved every penny. I 100% agree.
Education, education, education. Our prime minister said some times ago. I wish all headteacher are as good as Mr Elms. Prime minister's basic salary is 142000 but he gets lots of more benifits. students need good headteacher. That is all. People who made big fuss can go to proof they can do the same so, they would get the same amount.


At least the press can't find the second person as goog as Mr Elms.