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Louise Hatswell and Emma Harrison share insights and actions from ASCL’s business leader pay report.

Business leaders' pay

At the end of 2023, ASCL undertook a member pay survey of business leaders (see www.ascl.org.uk/ BusLeaderPaySurvey2024). As there is no national framework for business leaders in place, there is a huge disparity in business leaders’ pay. It was important to us to get an accurate, up-to-date picture from members.

Alarmingly, our results showed that 50% of business leaders are considering leaving their role in the next three years, presenting a huge risk to the sector. It’s therefore hugely important that we look at all options to retain the skills, knowledge and expertise within the sector, while continuing to develop the current workforce, succession plan and provide career development for business leaders.

The business leader category of ASCL membership covers a diverse nature of roles and responsibilities, including leaders of HR, governance, estates, sustainability, IT, communications and marketing. There were more than 100 job titles shared in the pay survey. It was great to see in the findings that 88% of business leaders are now part of the senior/executive leadership team. However, we were disappointed to see that 70% of business leaders said their salary was below that of other colleagues on the leadership team and 29% were paid less than the L5 equivalent on the leadership pay range.

Additionally, three key areas of concern came through in the responses:

  1. wellbeing and workload,
  2. pay inequity and inadequacy of National Joint Council (NJC) pay increases over the last two years, and
  3. recognition and understanding of the role.

What we’ve done

For many years, ASCL Council’s position (our policymaking body) has been, “Business or executive leaders who undertake whole-school, college or trust responsibilities are an integral part of the leadership team. ASCL believes that this should be reflected in their status and remuneration. Where this is not the case, there should be a review of the business leader’s pay to ensure their crucial role is appropriately recognised and remunerated.”

We used the survey results as part of the ASCL evidence to the School Teachers’ Review Body (STRB) and the Independent Welsh Pay Review Body (IWPRB), where we have and will continue to argue that business leaders’ pay should be included in the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) and School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions (Wales) Document (STPC(W)D). Additionally, as part of our evidence to the STRB, we called for business leaders to be included in the workload reduction working group.

In February, the findings of the survey were formally presented to ASCL Council’s Conditions and Employment Committee. We will continue to shine a spotlight and lobby for change on your behalf. ASCL has called for employers to review pay and ensure it reflects the role and responsibilities undertaken.

As a supportive tool for both employers and members, we have produced a Business Case for Salary Review template (www.ascl.org.uk/BusinessCaseSalaryTemplate), along with guidance on completing it (www.ascl.org.uk/BusinessCaseSalaryReview), to aid business leaders who want to request a review of their salary. Please also remember that your membership includes support in this area, including with appeals – contact our hotline (www.ascl.org.uk/hotline). We have also updated our Pay and Conditions Guidance (www.ascl.org.uk/SBLPayConditionsGuidance).

Additionally, we’ve also shared the survey report with the DfE and the Labour Party, and we have met with the DfE and the Institute of School Business Leadership (ISBL) to discuss the findings.

Where next?

The pay survey has reinforced that there is still further work needed to ensure full equity and parity across all business leadership roles in the sector. We will be meeting again with the DfE to look at further analysis of the findings and will continue to lobby for change with the government.

We are also aware that Labour has signalled that it will reintroduce the School Support Staff Negotiating body (SSSNB) if the party comes into power. ASCL doesn’t believe that this will change anything; these roles are not served well by the National Joint Council (NJC) arrangements as demonstrated by our survey results, nor would they be by the reinstatement of the SSSNB as proposed by Labour. Pay would still be determined locally, so the problems would be perpetuated.

It’s now critical that we look at all opportunities available to ensure retention and development of business leaders, providing them with flexible working opportunities and professional development to flourish and grow in their roles.

Business leaders carry out crucial roles in the education sector and we need to celebrate them and the contributions they make by reflecting this in their pay.

Louise Hatswell
ASCL Conditions of Employment Specialist: Pay
@LouiseHatswell Emma Harrison
ASCL Business Leadership Specialist