Headteachers are having their pay boosted without proving they have fulfilled new performance criteria.
This year school governors were expected to look at factors such as exam success, truancy rates and budget management before awarding heads extra pay points. According to a survey for the School Teachers' Review Body, 28 per cent of heads and deputies who stayed in the same post received at least one additional pay point. But a third received the extra pay without having their performance reviewed.
A spokesman for the review body said: "The new system still needs time to bed down. We will be more concerned if the new criteria are not being used by next year."
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers has long been against what it sees as abuse of the system by heads. It accuses some heads of top-slicing the school budget at the expense of classroom teachers, who are less likely to receive extra points. Governors say they often feel uncomfortable if they do not award the head extra points.
The headteacher unions say that the performance criteria are a nonsense if there is no extra money as heads will only get rewarded if the school's budget allows.
Headteachers and deputies in London and the South-east are more likely to receive extra points than teachers elsewhere. In Yorkshire and Humberside, only 9 per cent of heads who remained in the same post received extra points. Of heads who move to another school, 30 per cent were employed on the same pay as their predecessor, 55 per cent less and 15 per cent more.
The survey showed that 83 per cent of heads and 78 per cent of deputies stayed in post between September 1996 and September 1997. The school size is the main determinant of a head's pay: a primary head typically earns Pounds 29,121, and a secondary head Pounds 41,739.
Most classroom teachers are on point nine, earning Pounds 21,591. Men are more likely to be on a higher point. Fewer than 100 teachers are on the pay scale's maximum of Pounds 34,476. In the last academic year, 66 per cent of full-time teachers who stayed at the same school received the same number of points.
Overall, 47 per cent of full-time teachers had at least half a permanent responsibility point. A higher proportion of men (62 per cent) than women (41 per cent) had at least half a responsibility point. More secondary than primary teachers have responsibility points.