TWO SUPERHEADS are being sought for troubled inner-city schools on salaries which could spark the crumbling of national pay scales.
The schools in Islington, London, are advertising the posts for up to Pounds 70,000 - the salary of a junior minister or a chief education officer.
Islington Green was placed under special measures following a critical inspection report last July. The new head's salary will be 25 per cent above the top of the normal pay scale.
Islington Arts and Media School is to open under the Government's Fresh Start scheme on the site of George Orwell which closes next July. That head will get 10 per cent more than the current top rate for a school of its size.
John Howson, of Education Data Services, said: "This is clear evidence that extra pay is needed to attract candidates to high-risk schools. It will also be interesting to see what the knock-on effect will be in neighbouring boroughs.
"This could be the beginning of the breakdown of the national pay scale for heads."
This week David Blunkett, the Education and Employment Secretary, promised that the Government would reward teachers as part of Gordon Brown's Pounds 19 billion education spending package. However, any extra money for teachers would be geared "entirely" to Labour's modernisation agenda and would involve "something for something".
He was "very concerned" about the disparity between the salaries of primary and secondary heads.
"You'd expect people to be paid according to their experience, according to their performance, according to the time that they've been in the job, and of course the responsibility that they carry."
Rupert Perry, Islington's chair of education, said: "Offering good money is a good way to get quality candidates. Islington has found itself at the bottom of the league tables, but once we have recruited in these schools, we are confident that we will have good heads in all of them and will begin to move up the tables."
Tony Blair, a former Islington resident, decided against sending his children to local secondaries, instead choosing the grant-maintained London Oratory.
Mr Perry said he hoped to announce the new Islington Green head next week. The extra money will come from the schools' budgets. He said: "It has been a joint decision between the schools and the authority. They are reasonably well funded and can afford to pay."
Kerry George of the National Association of Head Teachers said: "The problem will arise for schools which cannot afford it."
* A School Teachers' Review Body report on headteachers' pay, which is expected to recommend a spine for a new management grade, is to be published later this month.