21 May '13

News Headteachers told: choose highly paid staff or smaller classes in your schools

Principals must be prepared to make difficult trade-offs, says Sir Michael Wilshaw, Ofsted's chief inspector of schools

Headteachers may face a difficult balancing act between improved wages for their staff or smaller classes for their pupils, Ofsted's chief inspector of schools said on Tuesday.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, speaking at a seminar in London, said tight budgets and performance-related pay meant heads would have to make difficult trade-offs.

"You can't have both – you can't have small classes, small groups and a highly-paid staff," Wilshaw told a seminar hosted by Reform, a rightwing thinktank.

Wilshaw referred to his experience when headteacher of Mossbourne Community Academy in Hackney, east London.

He said he told his own staff room: "I want to reward those of you who are prepared to commit yourself to the school and do a good job in the classroom. To do that might mean we have larger classes."

Wilshaw said headteachers could win staff over by offering improved pay while arguing that "we are going to have to reorganise the way we organise our curriculum, and our group sizes within the school".

The comments came as the Department for Education (DfE) prepares to rewrite state school teachers' terms and conditions in England, scrapping annual increases and giving headteachers the power to award performance-related pay rises.

"The good heads know they have got these additional freedoms and will reorganise," Wilshaw said.

In response, a DfE spokesman said it expected headteachers to be able to judge what was best for their pupils.

"It is vital that schools can recruit and reward the best teachers. We are reforming pay so schools can attract and retain the best teachers who have the greatest impact on their pupils' achievements," he said.

Recent research suggests that the quality of teachers in schools has a greater impact on performance than smaller class sizes.

Reform earlier this week published a study, Must do Better, arguing that education spending budgets could sustain an 18% cut without hurting classroom standards.

Wilshaw – who has long been a vocal supporter of rewarding teachers on merit – agreed classroom performance should be linked to pay.

"It's a nonsense that we see failing schools where most [teachers] are at the top of the scale – and that's something that inspectors comment on," he said.

guardian.co.uk © 2013 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds

Read the full story in Guardian Education
Log in Join
  • Jul 14th

    I think this is a very bad idea. Larger class sizes will only serve to lower standards and make the teacher's job harder than it already is.