Teachers' leaders have attacked increases averaging 165 per cent for chief executives of organisations including the funding councils, the Teacher Training Agency and the National Council for Vocational Qualifications as "outrageous".
The average chief executive's salary for the mushrooming number of quangos now stands at Pounds 1,451 a week, according to the figures gathered by Liberal Democrat education spokesman Don Foster in a series of parliamentary questions.
Lay chairmen of the same organisations are paid an average of Pounds 452 a week for less than two days' work.
The figures were released two weeks after teachers were forced to accept a staged pay rise of 3.3 per cent which actually amounts to a 2.7 per cent increase over the year.
And they are likely to fuel worries that unaccountable Government agencies are becoming increasingly powerful. This week Sir Jeremy Beecham, chairman of the Association of Metropolitan Authorities, welcomed recentGovernment concessions towards greater democratic control of quangos, but said they were still unaccountable and too powerful.
Mr Foster's figures show that in 1987-88 the chief executives of five educational quangos were paid a total of Pounds 142,000. By 1995-96, the total had soared to Pounds 1.1 million for 15 quangos. Over the same time, the pay bill for chairmen had gone up from Pounds 47,831 to almost Pounds 353,000.
The salary for a classroom teacher has risen from about Pounds 11,000 to Pounds 20,000 over the same time - an increase of around 82 per cent.
Mr Foster said: "These figures reveal a Government with its priorities desperately wrong. Some of this money could be more usefully spent on supporting teachers or holding down class sizes.
"I am sure many a hard-pressed teacher or over-stretched administrator would like to receive such staggering pay rises."
The highest-paid of the educational quango chiefs last year, according to the figures, was Brian Fender, chief executive of the Higher Education Funding Council for England, on a salary of Pounds 119,000. His chairman, Brandon Gough, received Pounds 37,080 for an average two-day week. Second best-paid was Sir William Stubbs, chief executive of the Further Education Funding Council, on Pounds 109,000, while John Hillier, of the National Council for Vocational Qualifications, was paid Pounds 79,731. Nick Tate of the School Curriculum and Assessment Authority received Pounds 78,740 last year. The current salary for Chief Inspector Chris Woodhead is Pounds 84,000.
Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, said: "These figures are outrageous at a time when teachers are being expected to accept a phased award. The Government's priorities are upside-down."
A spokesman for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers said: "Teachers and lecturers will look at their meagre rise this year with disbelief when they compare them with what the fat cats are getting."
A spokesman for the Department for Education and Employment said the salaries represented "the market rate for the reponsibility and high profile (these posts) carry".
WHAT QUANGO CHIEFS EARN
Chief executive... salary (Pounds )... Chairman (days worked)... payment (Pounds )
National Council for Vocational Qualifications, John Hillier, 79,731, Sir Michael Heron (1), 18,462
National Council for Educational Technology, Margaret Bell, 70,016, Heather Du Quesnay (0.5), unpaid
Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research, Dr Lid King, 38,423, Professor Martin Harris(1), unpaid
Education Assets Board, Stuart Hoare, 59,628, Keith Bridge (2), 26,523
School Curriculum and Assessment Authority, Dr Nick Tate, 78,740, Sir Ron Dearing (1), 46,670
Further Education Funding Council for England, Sir William Stubbs*, 109, 000, Sir Robert Gunn (2), 36,024
Higher Education Funding Council for England, Brian Fender, 119,000, Brandon Gough, (2), 37,080
Funding Agency for Schools, Michael Collier, 86,000, Sir Christopher Benson (2), 35,210
Teacher Training Agency, Anthea Millett, 80,003, Geoffrey Parker (1), 15,000
Office for Standards in Education, Chris Woodhead**, 84,000
* Retired 1996
**current salary (1996-97)
Other figures from 1995-96