The new head of Holland Park school, London, - perhaps the best-known comprehensive in the country - could be earning almost as much as Gillian Shephard, the Education Secretary, and more than a minister of state.
The school, famous for teaching the children of Cabinet ministers (albeit former Labour ones), is advertising for a headteacher within the salary range of Pounds 46,000 to Pounds 62,000 plus a lease car. At Pounds 10,000 more than the top rate for heads, this is thought by the headteacher unions to be the highest in the country for a state school.
Gillian Shephard earns Pounds 63,047 while Eric Forth, her deputy, is paid Pounds 51,402.
The scale in use at Holland Park goes beyond the School Teachers' Review Body pay spine and has been devised because of the problems caused by the large social and ethnic mix of the 1,500 pupils, according to Norman Craig, chair of governors.
He said: "We use the framework of the review body's spine but have extended it. The school may be in one of the more exclusive parts of London, but there are 50 different languages spoken by the children. It is also a high-profile school and the head will need skills to deal with the media." He said there had been 40 applicants.
The school, which earned a left-wing reputation for its progressive teaching methods and commitment to mixed-ability teaching, has clashed a number of times with its Tory-controlled education authority. Kensington and Chelsea council issued two critical reports and the school had the worst truancy record in the Government's performance tables last year.
The STRB heads' pay scale ranges from Pounds 31,743 to Pounds 52,152 depending on the size of school and age of pupils. Heads can negotiate higher points on the scale with their governing body. A recent survey showed that a third of headteachers had been moved to a higher point.
Michael Stoten, education director of Kensington and Chelsea, said: "It is the governors who decide how much a head is paid."