More than one in four headteachers and deputies have been given extra pay by governing bodies, with more than 40 per cent in London and the South-east negotiating extra pay, according to a survey by the School Teachers' Review Body.
The survey shows 27 per cent of primary and 28 per cent of secondary heads who were in the same post last year are getting rises above the annual award. A similar proportion of deputies are getting equivalent increases. More than 700 heads have been awarded a rise of three or more points (roughly Pounds 2,000, depending where they are on the scale).
Walter Ulrich, spokesman for the National Association of Governors and Managers, said: "A surprising number of heads and deputies have been pushed up a point or more. We don't believe there is much possible justification for such increases in the context of the whole school pay policy.
"It leaves open the question of whether they are doing it merely for an easy life. It is a sign of weakness if they think they had better do it in order to prevent their head from sulking."
Governing bodies are supposed to provide heads with written reasons for their pay decisions. The survey shows only half did so last year. They will be expected, from September, to make a review with a set of performance criteria. This, however, has been condemned by NAGM as a "phoney sort of performance-related pay".
Peter Smith, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, said that when the entire education service was so badly funded, senior managers should be setting a good example by not taking up more of the school budget.
"The rumours on pay are too far and widespread for headteachers' organisations to ignore them," he said. "It must be said that some heads are exercising patronage in the direction of their own bank accounts."
The system was also criticised by headteachers. Kerry George, senior assistant secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said governors were not able to reward heads and deputies on their performance. It all depended on whether there was enough left in the budget.
Their increase might be because a head was taken on at a lower point on the pay scale than a predecessor. John Sutton, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said: "It's a system heads have not asked for and do not want."
The survey shows that 9 per cent of deputy posts have been lost since March 1992; a quarter of classroom teachers are remunerated on point 9 (the maximum reached by qualifications and experience alone); 66 per cent of teachers were not awarded any extra points last year; few teachers have been given excellence points, and 48 per cent of teachers have at least a half point for taking on permanent extra responsibilities.