Schools are making up their own pay scales for senior jobs, leaving teachers baffled by how much they can expect to be paid.
This year the salary structure was suppose to have been simplified salaries as management allowances have been replaced by Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) points.
Schools should only be advertising managerial posts at one of two grades: TLR2, which adds between pound;2,250 and pound;5,500 to pay, or TLR1, which adds between pound;6,500 and pound;11,000.
But schools have been inventing their own TLR grades within these brackets.
Since last month have advertised posts at "TLR1.4", "TLR1D" "TLR1C", "TLRI.2" and "TLR1 Step 3". A wholly invented "TLR 3" has also been spotted.
To make matters even more confusing, there is little consistency between the schools' grades.
Adverts for "TLR1A" posts equate to extra pay of pound;6,500 or pound;8,500 extra depending on the school. Meanwhile, "TLR1B" can mean pound;9,500, Pounds 8,500 or pound;8,000 and "TLR1C" could mean pound;9,500, pound;8,300 or pound;8,000.
The muddle has not been helped by a small group of schools who seem to believe, wrongly, that TLR2 is worth more than TLR1.
David Pope, acting deputy head of the Campion school in Northampton said:
"I would like to thank whoever came up with the new salary structure - I am sure everyone is as clear as mud about how much they are going to earn when they apply for a new job".
The National Association of Head Teachers said some schools may have invented the pay scales on misguided advice from their local authorities.
Magnus Gorham, assistant secretary for salaries and pensions, said:
"Whatever the reason, there is no basis for it in the pay and conditions document. Schools should just advertise TLR1 or TLR2 and the amount so it's clear."
The new pay system has made one thing clearer: the differences in pay between department heads of different subjects The Oxford-based research company Education Data Surveys analysed around 900 secondary department head jobs advertised last month and found that 55 per cent were offered at the higher TLR1 while 39 per cent were on TLR2 (see box). Most heads of science, English and maths got the top bonuses, and those leading IT, design and technology, PE, special needs, or languages were also much more likely to receive TLR1.
In contrast, heads of music, art and design, history, geography, drama and citizenship normally got the lower pay bonus.
John Hopkin, chair of the Geographical Association's education committee, said geography staff would be disappointed. "In a way it's not surprising that the core subjects have come out on top as those teachers have more responsibilities and more staff, and their test results are watched more closely," Professor Hopkin said.
"But it's still disappointing that there has been a stratification of subjects, which is leading subjects like geography to have a lower status and affecting pay packets. It's another notch on the ratchet."
The National Union of Teachers warned last year that the introduction of TLRs might lead to an erosion of pastoral care in schools because the points were only supposed to recognise work directly related to teaching and learning.
But John Howson, director of Education Data Surveys, said the high number of pastoral posts advertised, some as part of head of year roles, suggested such fears were unfounded.