TWO primary heads could earn up to pound;72,444 at new schools in Waltham Forest, north-east London. They are thought to be the first state primaries offering salaries that break the pound;70,000 barrier.
Officials from EduAction, the private company which runs school services in the borough, say governors want to recruit heads capable of meeting tough targets for pupil results.
The posts, for schools in Walthamstow, both advertised in The TES last week, have a salary range of pound;62,817 to pound;72,444, including outer London weighting.
Edward Redhead infant and junior schools are due to merge in September 2003. The infant school has been in special measures for two years. A Private Finance Initiative project to build a new school is also due to start next September.
A school formed from Woodside junior and infant schools and nursery is due to open in September. Both schools will have around 630 pupils.
In a joint statement, Graham Moss, EduAction director of school support services, and Chris Robbins, lead council member for lifelong learning, said: "We want to attract exceptional candidates for Waltham Forest because collectively we have a long way to go if we want to achieve the attainment targets that we have set for 2004. We also want our standards to reach national levels by 2007."
The closing date for both jobs is December 16 and interviews will be held mid-January. Successful candidates will start in September.
Professor John Howson, visiting education professor at Oxford Brookes university, said the salary range on offer was particularly surprising in the run-up to a pay review.
He said primary school headships tended to get fewer applicants than secondary ones.
Kate Bailey was believed to be the first primary head to earn more than pound;60,000 when she was recruited to head John Keble Church of England school in 2001. Mrs Bailey resigned last term. The school in the London borough of Brent has so far failed to find a replacement, but will be re-advertising the post next month.
John Keble school is currently led under a joint management arrangement. Joyce Paige, headteacher of Kensal Rise primary, shares the role with Paul Campbell of St Mary's Roman Catholic primary.