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Pay premium for academy principals

Their salaries are around 50 per cent higher than their secondary counterparts

PRINCIPALS OF city academies earn one and a half times as much as their peers in ordinary comprehensives.

The average salary of an academy head during 2005-06 was just over Pounds 105,000. The average for all secondary heads was about pound;68,000. The figures are revealed in schools' annual accounts.

The figures, obtained from Companies House, reveal that academies are paying significantly more than the top level on the school leadership pay scale, which last year reached just under pound;100,000 for the largest secondary schools in London and pound;95,000 for those outside the capital.

Last week, The TES revealed that academies were receiving on average almost the same per-pupil funding as leading private day schools.

The highest-paid employee in the 19 academies that filed accounts for 2005-06 earned between pound;130,000 and pound;140,000. Two others - one employed by the Haberdashers' Aske's Hatcham College Trust, which runs two academies, and one at the Capital City academy in Brent - earned between pound;120,000 and pound;130,000.

The academy pay league was topped by Sir John Lewis, who retired last summer as principal and chief executive of Dixons academy in Bradford. He earned up to pound;140,000. He had also been head of the school it replaced, Dixons city technology college.

Nick Weller, the current principal, said Sir John's salary might have been inflated by a one-off payment before his retirement. He hinted that his own salary would be smaller, as the 2007 accounts would show its highest-paid employee earning between pound;110,000 and pound;120,000.

Mr Weller said: "My predecessor had been in post for 17 years. He built the school up from scratch into one of the most successful in the country."

Previously the highest-paid academy principal was reported to be Alistair Falk, formerly principal of the West London academy, who earned pound;120,000. His successor, Hilary Macaulay, appeared to have been paid significantly less. The figures suggested she received between pound;90,000 and pound;100,000.

This year, Alan Johnson, the Education Secretary, earned pound;136,677 - a similar amount to the highest-paid academy head. But John Dunford, general secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders, said his members were worth every penny.

"The fair comparator for the head of an academy is the head of a challenging school rather than an average school, because there's a salary premium attached to such a post," he said. "These are very difficult jobs, which are much more vulnerable than other jobs."

The association's own research showed that headteachers were increasingly likely to lose their jobs if their schools got into trouble, particularly at schools in difficult areas, including academies.

Professor John Howson of Education Data Services, which monitors all headteacher appointments, said that, while most academies had been able to recruit, their generous salary packages risked drawing staff away from less well-funded neighbours.

"It's good if it attracts good quality people," he said. "But the question is: how do you make sure the schools which have the money don't cause problems for those that don't?"

What you could be earning

pound;140,000 to pound;130,000 Sir John Lewis, Dixons academy in Bradford.

pound;136,677 Alan Johnson, Education Secretary

pound;123,150 Highest-paid staff member at Capital City academy, Brent

pound;105,000 Average for an academy head

pound;99,000 Maximum for head of a large inner-London secondary

pound;95,000 Maximum for head of large secondary outside London

pound;69,525 Typical secondary head

pound;53,103 Typical deputy head

pound;33,720 Average teacher

pound;13,581 Typical school secretary

Academy heads' pay taken from figures filed by 14 academies for the 2005-2006 academic year. Others from a TES survey.

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