New "astronomical" salaries on offer for headteachers is failing to stem the recruitment crisis in "challenging" schools, new research has shown.
Telephone-number wages to offset job insecurity for those willing to take on the "risk" of the job - so-called football manager syndrome - has not prevented difficulties in finding the next generation of headteachers, according to a study by Education Data Surveys (EDS).
John Howson, managing director of EDS, sister company to The TES, said it is now rare for academy heads to be paid less than six figures, regardless of location or pupil numbers.
During 2009, 60 head posts were advertised with salaries over #163;100,000 - mostly National Challenge schools or academies, EDS reported.
Professor Howson claims that this is further evidence of a new model of reward creeping into education whereby top heads receive extra pay for the risk associated with the job.
"Frequently, these above-expected salaries may be regarded as premium payments for 'risk' - what might be called the football manager effect," Professor Howson said.
"There is certainly a trade-off between risk and reward, and any clampdown on salaries may affect the number of candidates willing to take on the leadership of such schools for less money, unless the threat to their careers is withdrawn."
Leadership pay scales stop at #163;109,658 in inner London, but governing bodies are free to offer more if they consider it necessary to recruit or retain school leaders.
The EDS report also found that last year the number of new primary headships advertised fell for the first time; from 1,932 in 2008 to 1,846. This could be because of federations, more internal appointments or the recession causing heads to postpone retirement.
But secondary and special head rates remained at almost identical levels. There were fewer deputy and assistant head posts advertised in 2009 than in 2008, down from 2,308 to 2,071, possibly reflecting school budget cutbacks.
Re-advertisement rates for 200809 were slightly below the previous year, but almost a third of secondaries had unfilled posts on the first attempt. Those in the North were most successful, but in the East and Wales there was "considerable" difficulty, according to the report. London remained the region with the toughest recruitment problem.
Martin Freedman, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers' head of pay, conditions and pensions, said the football manager effect had become particularly noticeable on salaries this year.
"Of course most National Challenge schools are bound by pay and conditions agreements, but governors get around this by offering big bonuses," he said.
"It's still the case that a high salary attracts those with a certain kudos. But a school should always make sure they get the right person with a background in education."