HEADTEACHERS are being offered pay on a par with that of a medium-sized company boss to take on a primary school in Grimsby - a town which even its fiercest advocates concede has an "image problem".
North East Lincolnshire Council is offering up to pound;55,000, plus a relocation allowance, to the successful appplicant. This is believed to be the most lucrative offer ever made for a primary headship outside London.
Recruitment experts have described the move as indicative of the premiums schools must now pay to persuade good heads to take the risk of working in challenging environments.
The school does not even have a name yet, as it is being formed from the amalgamation of junior and infant schools serving the town's tough Nunsthorpe estate.
The local authority hopes it will qualify for funding under the Government's Fresh Start scheme to relaunch struggling schools.
Gareth Hughes, who is organising the opening of the school, which is expected to have 570 pupils, said 16 applications had already been receivd since the post was advertised in The TES last week.
He said the council was "absolutely delighted", particularly because the job would be challenging. The infant school had been classed as having serious weaknesses since May, while the junior school currently languishes in the authority's key stage 2 league tables.
Nick Pontone, from the local chamber of commerce, said: "There's something of an image problem with the likes of Hull and Grimsby for people outside the area, which means that business sometimes does have to pay a premium to get people to come here."
Meanwhile, Oxfordshire County Council is offering up to pound;51,339 to a head with the skills to turn around Neithrop community junior school, a failing school in Banbury.
Recruitment expert John Howson, visiting professor at Oxford Brookes University, said: "I call this the Middlesbrough effect. If you are a football team which is threatened with relegation, you have to pay prospective managers a premium to take the risk of working for you."