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Huge pay hikes for top primary jobs

A primary school is close to breaking the pound;75,000 barrier to recruit a headteacher.

A salary of up to pound;73,410 is being offered by Highbury Quandrant, a former failing primary in Islington, north London. Pupils speak 27 languages between them, with more than half speaking English as a second language.

Simon Dormand, the head, arrived in January 2000 and guided the school out of special measures within two years. He is soon to leave for a school in Sheffield.

He said: "It's been absolutely brilliant but I think I could only do the job for five or six years - it is so intense. That's why you have got to advertise the job at such a competitive rate. There are far fewer people wanting to take over a school in inner London compared to other areas.

"A comparable school in northern cities will get more applicants because of the cheaper housing and the quality of life. I'm going to Sheffield. It will not be a particularly easy job but I can live in a rural idyll and commute."

In The TES this week, another inner-London school, Wyvil primary in Lambeth, is advertising for a new headteacher on a salary of up to pound;71,784. Unlike many other primaries offering top wages, the school is a high performer, with a recent history of good SATs marks and low truancy, but is in a relatively expensive area.

The typical salary for a primary head is pound;43,296, and pound;62,547 for a secondary head. High pay is seen as further evidence of the desperate measures primaries are forced to take to fill vacancies. Latest figures reveal they get an average of six applicants for every headship.

A study for the National Association of Head Teachers and the Secondary Heads Association reveals that a third of the 1,025 schools looking for a new head last year were forced to advertise more than once.

John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes university, who was behind the research, said pay would rise even further if schools were forced to move to a 10-hour day as the Government wants, so they can provide a range of community services.

David Hart, NAHT general secretary, said: "I can see primary heads earning pound;80,000 in five years."

Highbury is not the first school to break the pound;70,000 mark. In November 2002 EduAction, a private company running schools in Waltham Forest, north-east London, offered up to pound;72,444 for two primary posts. Professor Howson said these offers were "hugely over the top" and did not prompt a flood of similar offers.

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