TWO London primary schools have broken the pound;60,000 salary barrier in their quest to recruit headteachers.
The wages narrow dramatically the differentials in pay between primary and secondary heads in London and demonstrate the seriousness of the recruitment crisis facing schools in the capital.
Lambeth is looking to pay up to pound;63,177, including the pound;3,000 London allowance, to the head of the new Loughborough community primary, a 420-pupil Fresh Start school with nursery, due to open next year.
John Keble, a 470-pupil Church of England primary in special measures in Brent, is offering up to pound;61,719.
The salaries are believed to be the highest for primary heads. They are the equivalent to those paid to GPs, senior lawyers in reasonably-sized firms and retail area managers, managing a pound;100 million turnover.
Department for Education and Employment figures show that two years ago, the average salary for a primary head was pound;32,500. But it has not been unusual for schools in London to offer more than pound;50,000 as the top end of a salary range in advertisements, according to recruitment analystJohn Howson.
Three months ago, North East Lincolnshire offered up to pound;55,000 plus a relocation allowance for the headship of a new primary school in Grimsby.
In the secondary sector, pound;60,000 seems to be the minimum level for a school facing recruitment difficulties, regardless of the number of pupils on roll.
But Professor Howson was surprised by the scale of the salaries offered by the two London primaries. "I expected them to cluster around the pound;55,000 mark," he said.
"This closes the pay differentials between primary and secondary heads and is clearly a response to the problem of recruiting in London where the market is difficult."
David Hart, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said: "Salaries of this size are inevitable in places like London.
"I can see the day where primary heads will earn more than secondaries. The differentials are narrowing now dramatically."
John Dunford, general secretary of the Secondary Heads Association, said:
"We are clearly moving to a situation where new heads' salaries are based on market forces."