EFA staff given £510k in bonuses

Figures revealed by Schools Week have found that the top ten per cent of directors at the EFA agency were awarded £15,000 each in bonuses.

The data suggested a number of top performing deputy directors received £12,500, while the average bonus for civil servants deemed as ‘exceptional’ was £11,450.

The Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) has called on the government to explain the payments made to civil servants identified as the ‘top 25 per cent of performers’.

Brian Lightman, ASCL general secretary, argued that ‘huge’ budget pressures on schools were leaving headteachers with ‘no alternative’ but to increase class sizes.

He said: “We need to understand why such a significant sum is being paid out in bonuses at the EFA when every penny is desperately needed for frontline teaching. We call on the government to explain the rationale and criteria for these awards. Whilst there is no doubt that EFA staff are working extremely hard in this challenging context, so are teachers and school leaders, who have had pay rises of a maximum of one per cent a year imposed on them for the duration of this parliament.”

Data conducted by the Institute of Fiscal Studies suggests that school budgets are expected to be cut by eight per cent over the next five years.

Peter Lauener, EFA chief executive, spoke about the issue at the National Association of School Business Managers (NASBM) conference last week. He said: ”Every part of the public sector (is facing cuts). We are all facing financial pressure and have to find the best way to make savings.”

He continued to add that all bonuses were paid ‘entirely in line with civil service pay and performance arrangements’.

He said: “Up to a quarter of staff that are the best performers can get a bonus — that’s the standard arrangement across the civil service. They are not large bonuses. Senior civil servants’ [bonuses] are a bit larger, [but] they are not lavish. No more or less than any other part of the civil service.”

Figures found the largest payment to non-senior servants was £3,200, while the average for exceptional performers were £2,020.

Sue Adams, school business manager at Bower Park academy in Romford, Essex, claimed the bonuses were outrageous.
She said: “Schools have been required to use their retained earnings, if they have any, on balancing their budgets in order to not face making drastic staff cuts. My senior staff, including myself, will not be receiving any pay increases for this or next year to keep the staff we currently have.

“The money that the EFA has decided to spend on giving bonuses could and should, morally, have been distributed to those who need it. I would love to know what those particular individuals did that made a difference to educating our students.”

A spokesperson for the Department for Education said: “The amount the department spends on these awards is in line with the civil service arrangements. We have introduced greater transparency in pay and reduced the number of staff eligible for these awards. Nonetheless, like any good organisation, we believe those staff who have undertaken exceptional work or driven substantial savings for the taxpayer should be rewarded.”

Martin Furlong, national officer for the civil servant union, the First Division Association (FDA), said: “In the past five years the total remuneration [for senior civil servants] — including bonuses, pensions and pay awards — has reduced in value by a quarter.

“The reality is that the cost of the very limited performance-related pay in the civil service is subject to strict performance criteria, is not without scrutiny and is not paid out as an automatic entitlement. The vast majority of senior civil servants do not receive it.”

Read more