Schoolzone: Which subjects are worth most?

Which subjects are worth most?


09 Feb 2016

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Number alert: this quick study can barely be called research, more of a report on an exercise in satisfying my curiosity: the sample size is small, so don’t read too much into it. However, the numbers I’ve used are those where there is a clear difference in the sample of 215 jobs analysed.

I was wondering how much heads of department are paid: do some subjects receive bigger incentives than others? I imagined that heads of English, maths and science would command bigger salaries than other subjects because they have big teams. I also wondered whether heads of maths were being offered more than English just now, because they are in such short supply.

Since my school became an academy, we’ve paid everyone (I think) on the national pay scales – is this what everyone’s doing?

So, a quick trawl of all the HoD jobs in England being advertised today, reveals the following:

  • There are more heads of maths vacancies than any other (29 in this sample)
  • Science isn’t far behind (25) - but there’s also physics (10), chemistry (4) and biology (3)
  • Geography and history HoDs most commonly (58% and 50% resp.) receive TLRs worth £4,500, while
  • Around half of English, maths and science HoDs earn over twice that: over £9,000.

The maths teacher shortage seems to be persisting, if this is anything to go by. These figures also give some relief to my school, where we had just two applicants for our recent head of maths job – even though we’re a maths hub and our maths department is the envy of the county (and beyond).

The number of science leadership posts is surprisingly high too: we seem to hear less about shortages here nowadays, but there’s clearly a very high demand for science leaders just now.

Should HoDs in English, maths and science be paid more? Well, as an ex-head of science myself, I’d say probably not: certainly science HoDs have big teams and more students to enter and administer than most subject areas, but we also have more sub-subject leaders (to coin a phrase) who shoulder some of the burden.
Of course this is all driven by market forces. These 215 heads of department jobs are offering, between them, £1,483, 455 in incentives. How do we know that this money is being wisely allocated? Who decides who get pays what?

Academies can pay what they like now, but of course they don’t necessarily have any more cash and they are full of teachers who were there before conversion and are being paid on national pay scales. It seems from this research that, apart from a few MATs who have their own scales (but seem to pay pretty much the same anyway), the vast majority of jobs are being advertised on TLRs or leadership scale. Market forces are being retarded by inertia created by incumbent posts, it seems.

I’ll report more on this topic as we continue to monitor vacancies.


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