Why head teacher Mark Elms earned £200,000

By Hannah Richardson
BBC News education reporter

Image caption,
Mr Elms is one of 75 heads on a national programme to help struggling schools

There can be no doubt that Mark Elms is an excellent head teacher.

The school he leads, Tidemill Primary in Deptford, is rated outstanding by Ofsted. His leadership is also praised.

Its latest report said: "The head teacher and staff work well as a team and share the common aim of providing the best for the pupils.

"Teaching and learning are outstanding because the overall high quality of teaching enables pupils to achieve so well."

And according to local parents he not only does a good job, he has completely turned the school around since taking over in 2001, after the school had been in special measures for two years.

Speaking outside the school, parent Anne Marie Pandohrie said: "Before Mr Elms was at Tidemill, it was a run down school."

Now, she says, children are leaving Tidemill and getting scholarships to some of the best schools in the area. And its results certainly back up her claims.

Tidemill has also been in the coveted position of the top 5% of schools for the past four years.

Sited in a deprived area of south London, the school's 2008 results placed it top in the borough of Lewisham and 16th in England for value added.


Value-added measures the progress children make from when they arrive at the school to when they leave, and is critical in assessing how schools perform - particularly in poorer areas where children tend to start school with lower achievement levels.

The school says on its website that its "results show that with the proper motivation and high expectations Tidemill pupils can outperform the best".

For this work, at his 400-pupil school, Mr Elms receives a basic salary of £82,417.

This is well within the maximum head teacher pay rate of £109,000 for large inner London state schools.

The bulk of the £200,000 pay package he received last year was for the work he did on the London Challenge and City Challenge project over two years.

These schemes support schools in challenging circumstances and have been very successful in improving education in deprived areas of the country.

Big difference

Mr Elms is one of only 75 head teachers in England to have been awarded the prestigious role of National Leader of Education.

As such he would be responsible for helping other schools that are struggling.

The type of support on offer varies, but can involve the leader going as far as taking on an executive headship of another school or schools.

It is not clear how much support Mr Elms offered, but the scheme has been widely seen to have made a big difference.

Tidemill School is also in the midst of a multi-million pound rebuild, due to be complete by early 2011.

As head teacher, Mr Elms would have had a key role in this redevelopment which would have required much extra work.

Grateful parent Ms Pandohrie says: "Every parent and child at the school loves Mr Elms. He treats the children like human beings."

And on his pay, she says: "He deserves it and he works for it."

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