A LONDON primary school is close to breaking the pound;70,000 barrier in its drive to recruit a headteacher.
Tulse Hill primary, in Lambeth, a new school which will open next September, is offering up to pound;69,372 for a successful applicant. The salary is likely to top pound;70,000 next year.
This is thought to be the highest ever offered for a primary head. It comes only six months after The TES reported on the first pound;60,000 heads - Kate Bailey, of John Keble school, Brent, and Richard Thornhill, of Loughborough community primary, also in Lambeth.
New Tulse Hill, with 400 pupils, will replace three undersubscribed schools. It is to incorporate a Sure Start unit and a unit for hearing-impaired pupils. A spokeswoman for Lambeth council said the salary reflected the additional responsibilities of the post.
The move came as a new survey revealed that schools in both the primary and secondary sectors are finding it increasingly difficult to recruit school leaders.
Almost one in three primary schools had to re-advertise for a headteacher last year after their first attempt failed, according to the survey by recruitment expert Professor John Howson.
In the secondary sector, the figure was just over one in five posts, while in special schools, it was running at two in five. All figures were well up on the previous year, while there has been a dramatic downturn in the numbers applying for primary headships.
Some 23 schools received no applications for their headship, while 45 had only one response.
Primary schools, in particular, are reporting that the number of applications has reduced "drastically", with nearly 60 per cent of primaries receiving five or fewer responses.
On deputy headships, one in four primaries, 19 per cent of secondaries and 20 per cent of special schools are having to re-advertise. The National Association of Headteachers and Secondary Heads Association revealed evidence from Hay Management Consultants showing that a head of a small primary school is paid pound;35,100 on average - 23 per cent less than the pound;43,000 paid for comparable jobs across the private and public sectors.
For heads of large secondary schools, the shortfall was 15 per cent, heads receiving pound;69,700 compared to pound;80,300 in comparable jobs.
David Hart, NAHT general secretary, said both recruitment and retention of school leaders would continue to suffer unless salaries rose significantly.
He said: "The Government must stop relying on performance-related bonuses and start supporting decent basic salaries for those undertaking one of the most accountable jobs in the public sector."
John Dunford, SHA general secretary, said: "A substantial pay rise is an important factor in attracting more people to headships and this needs to be in line with salaries in comparable jobs."