Pay head teachers to expand high-performing schools, ministers told

Head teachers of top schools should receive “substantial” bonuses to take on additional pupils amid fears too many children are being rejected from their first-choice comprehensive, according to Government research. This is from the Telegraph…

Payments worth tens of thousands of pounds should be made to heads of high-performing schools who oversee a sustained increase in pupil numbers without harming exam results, it was claimed.

Researchers said cash bonuses were needed to “incentivise school expansion” and ensure head teachers are rewarded for the extra stress and workload associated with taking more pupils.

The recommendation was made as the study concluded that the best schools had failed to expand over the last decade, denying many parents places at their preferred secondary school.

This year, almost 75,000 children in England – more than one-in-seven – were rejected from their first-choice secondary.

According to researchers, the top-performing schools “have grown barely faster than other schools” in the last 10 years.

The incentives for schools to expand were “weak at best”, with fears that some of the best teachers would see their workload soar and headline exam results drop.

The study – commissioned by the Department for Education – recommended reforming school funding and head teacher pay “so that schools reap financial rewards from expansion”, including additional cash for buildings and refurbishments.

It added: “Head teachers of high-performing schools successfully overseeing a capacity expansion for five years would receive a substantial one-off bonus, centrally paid by the [Education Funding Agency].

“We would want to define ‘successfully’ to mean no substantial decline in performance.”

Researchers from the University of London’s Institute of Education and Bristol University analysed secondary school admissions between 2001 and 2011.

The study revealed that schools had been more likely to cut their numbers than increase capacity over the last decade.

It found no evidence to suggest that schools which took on more children did so because of decent exam results, insisting that expansion was often driven by changes in the local pupil population.

The study failed to identify the size of bonuses needed to tempt head teachers into expanding.

But it found that there was already an “association between gross pay and school size”, with heads receiving around £3,000 more per year for every additional 150 pupils admitted.

It said this “existing size premium” was unlikely to be enough to provide a proper incentive for heads to grow their school, suggesting a far bigger bonus pot may be needed.

Last night, the DfE insisted that school funding was already being overhauled to ensure schools with the largest numbers of pupils receive more money.

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