John Swin­ney chal­lenged over £100,000 salary pay­ments for col­lege top brass


Sunday Herald - - 19.03.17 POLITICAL NEWS - BY AN­DREW WHI­TAKER

ED­U­CA­TION Sec­re­tary John Swin­ney has been chal­lenged by the leader of the Scot­tish teach­ers’ union over claims that nearly 20 man­agers at Glas­gow’s big­gest col­lege are paid £100,000 a year.

Swin­ney came un­der fire over pay for the “top-level man­age­ment struc­ture” of col­leges dur­ing an SNP con­fer­ence fringe meet­ing in Aberdeen hosted by the EIS teach­ing union. EIS gen­eral sec­re­tary Larry Flana­gan made the claim dur­ing a head-to-head de­bate with Swin­ney on “stand­ing up for Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion”. Flana­gan told Swin­ney “there is a need to stay fo­cused on the day-to-day job of de­liv­er­ing high-qual­ity ed­u­ca­tion in Scot­land’s schools (and) col­leges” de­spite the on­go­ing in­de­pen­dence de­bate.

The union leader went on to tell Swin­ney there was an “un­for­tu­nate trend around the nar­ra­tive about the fail­ure of Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion”. Flana­gan said: “The idea that Scot­tish ed­u­ca­tion is fail­ing is non­sense. We to­tally re­ject the idea that school stan­dards are fall­ing and that we are fail­ing pupils.”

Flana­gan claimed a ma­jor prob­lem was the growth of ex­ces­sive pay pack­ages for col­lege man­age­ment, while front­line fund­ing for fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion ser­vices and schools was starved of cash. He sin­gled out one col­lege, where he said up to 19 man­agers were paid more than £100,000 each a year – a fig­ure he claimed his union’s fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion sec­tion has es­tab­lished.

He said: “One of the chal­lenges in FE is the lin­ger­ing na­ture of the man­age­ment struc­ture. The fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion lec­tur­ers’ as­so­ci­a­tion con­fer­ence of the EIS said that 19 peo­ple (man­agers) in one col­lege are earn­ing over £100,000. We need lec­tur­ers in class­rooms rather than this top-heavy man­age­ment struc­ture.”

When asked by the Sun­day Her­ald dur­ing the meet­ing which col­lege he was talk­ing about, Flana­gan, who was a teacher in Glas­gow, said: “It’s a very big col­lege and it’s very close to where I’m from.” Speak­ing af­ter the meet­ing, when asked, he con­firmed it was Glas­gow’s “big­gest” col­lege – which is the City of Glas­gow Col­lege.

Swin­ney, when asked about the £100,000 pay­ments dur­ing the fringe meet­ing, said in­sti­tu­tions should seek not to have “ex­ces­sive man­age­ment costs”.

He said: “I was widely crit­i­cised for re­form­ing the fur­ther ed­u­ca­tion sec­tor and I be­lieve it’s a ne­ces­sity to tackle du­pli­ca­tion and over­lap­ping. Dur­ing my time as Fi­nance Sec­re­tary I con­stantly chal­lenged the sys­tem to hold its costs down, to not have ex­ces­sive man­age­ment costs and I would ap­ply these same points to the col­lege sec­tor.”

Mean­while, Flana­gan warned Swin­ney the Scot­tish Gov­ern­ment risked mak­ing the teach­ing pro­fes­sion less at­trac­tive un­less it in­creased pay lev­els.

Speak­ing dur­ing the meet­ing, he said: “We be­lieve we are way past the time for teach­ers to have a de­cent salary in­crease. Teach­ing is no longer seen as an at­trac­tive pro­fes­sion. We’re ab­so­lutely not in a teacher cri­sis, but we have an early warn­ing sign.”

The Ed­u­ca­tion Sec­re­tary, also dur­ing the meet­ing, said: “We have a strongly per­form­ing ed­u­ca­tion sys­tem in Scot­land.”

Stu­art Thomp­son, vice-prin­ci­pal fi­nance & HR, at the City of Glas­gow Col­lege, said: “City of Glas­gow Col­lege is the largest col­lege in Scot­land and has the high­est rate of stu­dent suc­cess in Scot­land for full-time stu­dents. The col­lege has 1,400 staff and 30,000 stu­dents and the col­lege board ap­proves ap­pro­pri­ate se­nior man­age­ment pay.

“Un­for­tu­nately, the EIS are cur­rently fre­quently is­su­ing in­cor­rect in­for­ma­tion to cre­ate neg­a­tive pub­lic­ity. I can con­firm that only the prin­ci­pal and de­pute prin­ci­pal are paid a salary of more than £100,000.”

John Swin­ney was ques­tioned by the EIS Pho­to­graph: Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Im­ages

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