LEADING FIGURES at England's exam boards are earning more than pound;200,000 a year in pay and bonuses, The TES can reveal.
An unnamed director at the Edexcel board was paid pound;276,350 in 2005, the last year for which public figures were available.
In 2004, the highest-paid employee of the board earned pound;325,748, making him or her possibly the highest paid person in education.
Another awarding body figure, Simon Lebus, group chief executive of Cambridge Assessment, was paid pound;230,000- pound;240,000 in 2006-7.
The statistics come from an analysis of the recent accounts of major education organisations, which reveals the following:
* Ken Boston, chief executive of the Qualifications and Curriculum Authority, had a pay and benefits package of up to pound;289,386 in 2006-7, up more than pound;50,000 on 2005-6.
* David Gee, managing director of the National Assessment Agency: Pounds 185,000- pound;190,000.
* Mark Haysom, chief executive of the Learning and Skills Council: Pounds 242,000 in pay and bonuses.
* Maurice Smith, acting chief inspector at Ofsted during 2006-7: Pounds 175,000- pound;180,000.
* His successor, Christine Gilbert, took home up to pound;95,000 for her first six months' work.
* Ministers' salaries were more modest. Alan Johnson, the former education secretary, was paid pound;123,461 and Lord Adonis, schools minister, got pound;71,784
* David Bell, permanent secretary at the Department for Children, Schools and Families, earned between pound;170,000 to pound;175,000.
* The top-earning union leader was Mary Bousted, of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers, on pound;99,156.
Unlike England's other two big exam boards, Edexcel would not say who its highest-earning director is. Its managing director is Jerry Jarvis. In 2005, seven directors had large salaries, Edexcel's accounts show.
The revelation will focus more attention on Edexcel. Its annual accounts reveal an after-tax profit of pound;15 million on turnover of pound;183 million in 2005 up from pound;10 million in 2004 because all its product areas grew. But significant investment would be needed in the next few years in the education industry, it said.
Cambridge Assessment said that Mr Lebus's salary reflected his responsibilities in overseeing three large exam boards, including the GCSE and A-level awarding body OCR and a research division.
Its next highest-paid employee earned pound;130,000 to pound;140,000, with four others being paid in excess of pound;100,000.
Mike Cresswell, director general of England's largest board, AQA, earned a comparatively modest pound;120,000- pound;130,000.
Salaries for top earners at the QCA and its arm, the National Assessment Agency, also caused controversy.
Dean Rogers, of the Public and Commercial Services Union, which represents hundreds of QCA staff, said some members would question the pay received by top management. The QCA is looking to implement a basic 2 per cent salary rise for 2007-8, which he said was the lowest in Whitehall.
Mr Rogers said: "Public sector managers should be paid good salaries. But that needs to apply across the organisation. Other employees are having to take a pay cut in real terms."
Andrew Harland, chief executive of the Examination Officers' Association, said that the salary Edexcel was paying was unsurprising given that it was a commercial business.
Teachers' unions voted this week to join with other public sector unions in supporting co-ordinated industrial action to fight the Government's 2 per cent cap on rises.
Unison, which represents 200,000 teaching assistants and other support workers, is set to ballot its workers to strike over pay in early November.