Headteachers will get the same 2.5 per cent pay rise as their classroom colleagues despite warnings of a looming recruitment crisis.
The School Teachers' Review Body turned down calls from heads' unions for a bigger increase in order to make leadership posts more attractive to experienced teachers.
Instead, Ruth Kelly, the Education Secretary, agreed to the review body's recommendation for an inquiry into "fundamental issues about the changing role of leadership that need to be addressed".
That study could run alongside a more general review of teachers responsibilities suggested by the review body, Ms Kelly said.
Heads' leaders said that schools faced a "ticking timebomb" as current leaders retire and too few senior staff want to replace them. Six out of ten heads and 40 per cent of deputies and assistants are over 50, according to official figures.
John Howson, recruitment expert and Liberal Democrat policy adviser, said:
"This is a missed opportunity. We have a recruitment crisis and, once the study has reported, it may be 2008 before anything is done.
"If the Government does not sort it out then the market will. Schools with money will pay to attract heads and those without will have to make do."
Heads' workload has increased this term with the replacement of management allowances, new self-evaluation inspections and the need to provide planning, preparation and assessment time for staff.
In England, extended schools, changes to 14-19 education, the children's agenda and the Government's commitment to personalised education are also changing the role and workload of school leaders.
In its report this week, the review body suggested an independent study on school leadership should report by December 2006 on:
* rewards - whether current pay reflects the risks faced by heads, including dismissal and whether it should do more to encourage good performance;
* new models of headship, including separation of academic and administrative roles;
* the role of deputies and assistants, including whether much of their workload can be passed to administrative staff;
* recruitment planning, avoiding the bunching of advertising for headships in the first three months of the year; and
* whether heads should have personal contracts.
Ms Kelly said the study was timely given the Government's reforms but refused to commit herself to the timetable set out by the review body.
"I want to make sure that we can support our leadership teams effectively and have the right people in place to take forward these changes," she said.
Both heads' unions are pressing for faster action to head off a recruitment crisis.
Kerry George, assistant secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Two-and-a-half per cent will not be sufficient to improve recruitment. We are worried about the timeframe. Potentially something dramatic could happen to recruitment in the next couple of years."
John Dunford, SHA general secretary, said the independent review should be completed by September. "There is a timebomb ticking away which will be ignored at the Government's peril," he said.
The review should consider the changing nature of school leadership teams which are giving a greater role for support staff. Support staff pay is currently outside the STRB's remit, he added.
Details of the teachers' pay award 2006-8 are available from www.teachernet.gov.ukmanagementpayandperformancepay
* Pay award 2006-8: all teachers will get a 2.5 per cent pay rise in September 2006 and September 2007.
* The pay award will be reviewed if the average rate of headline inflation falls below 1.75 per cent or rises above 3.25 per cent in either the year to April 2007 or to April 2008.
* There will be an independent study of the role of school leaders, their pay and conditions. It may also examine teachers' formal responsibilities.
* The review body's recommendation to allow schools to pay staff on the new excellent teachers grade up to pound;50,000 was rejected by the Government (see story, below right).
* Proposals for greater local flexibility in pay were turned down by the review body.
* Plans to link teachers' pay to their progress in professional development were accepted by the review body.