Ripe old wage

Like a delectable cream bun - all choux pastry and melt-in-your mouth icing - the highest-paid union job in education appears on the sweet trolley that is the TES jobs pages today.

The departure of pound;96,846 per annum Peter Smith from the helm of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers will have many people's mouths watering. A stonking great pension plan and other benefits adds up to pound;22,000 to the generous pound;83,583-pound;107,013 salary on offer.

It's early doors, but the two hot tips for the job are Gerald Imison, a deputy general secretary at the union, and Martin Pilkington, its head of legal and members services. With the appointment panel stressing that there is no "sitting candidate" for the job, outsiders for the post such as Richard Margrave, a former ATL press and Labour party education adviser, who may be a strong contendor.

But what are these wild rumours we hear about Nigel de Gruchy, former general secretary of the NASUWT, applying?

The mischievous Gruch, perhaps tongue in cheek, is reported to be talking about an audacious bid to get his hands on the job's "inflated salary" and pension. We tried to contact the great man, but he was on the golf course.

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