The chief inspector's recent 34 per cent pay rise put the issue of teachers' salaries even higher up the profession's agenda - if it is possible to go higher than the top.
As this week's TES pay round-up reveals, Chris Woodhead's wage packet, though the most talked-about in the nation's staffrooms, is not the biggest. He is beaten by several university vice-chancellors and probably Michael Bichard, of the Department for Education and Employment. However, the DFEE refused to give precise salaries for civil servants, despite their status as public employees and talk of more open government.
If teachers are interested in the size of the education money pot, so is the private sector. Education is increasingly being stalked for a share in its multi-billion pound service. Companies are playing a greater role, with teacher supply and computer consultancy at the top of a lengthening list of services.
And last week they were offered the ultimate prize - managing their own state school. With Surrey council putting out to tender the management of the failing King's Manor school in Guildford, the private sector is no longer a bit player.
The Government annually puts some Pounds 27bn into education - Pounds 15.7bn of which is given to LEAs for schools. Ministers have now told councils they must delegate an extra Pounds 1bn to be spent by heads on essentials.
At the moment there are three key private sector players: Nord Anglia, Edison, an American company and the not-for-profit Centre for British Teachers.
Kevin McNeany, founder and chairman of Nord Anglia, is one of the highest earners in education. His shares rose by Pounds 3.6m after the Government announced that private companies would be invited to run schools in education action zones.
Computer companies are hoping for similar rewards. The Government has already earmarked more than Pounds 200m for the National Grid of Learning.
The teacher supply agency business is worth Pounds 100m and provides more than 10,000 teachers a week to schools. Fierce competition over the past 10 years has seen the market carved up by four players - TimePlan, Capstan, Select and Spring.
This autumn's Green Paper on modernising the profession will push pay to the fore. David Blunkett, the Education Secretary, has pledged better pay for better performance.
RANGE OF REWARDS
Michael Bichard,DFEE up to Pounds 161,930
Chris Woodhead, OFSTED Pounds 115,000
Chief executive, AoC (vacant) Pounds 100,000
David Blunkett, Education Sec Pounds 90,267
Nick Tate, QCA Pounds 89,085
Top FE college principal up to Pounds 80,000
Peter Smith, ATL Pounds 79,592
Michael Barber, DFEE up to Pounds 79,230
David Hart, NAHT Pounds 78,987
Anthea Millett, TTA Pounds 78,511
Estelle Morris, minister Pounds 77,047
Independent school head up to Pounds 75,000
Chief educ officers, shires up to Pounds 75,000
Doug McAvoy, NUT Pounds 74,922
Director of education, London up to Pounds 74,145. Baroness Blackstone, minister Pounds 70,974
Margaret Hodge, junior minister Pounds 69,339
Charles Clarke, junior minister Pounds 69,339
George Mudie, junior minister Pounds 69,339
Education director, metropolitan Pounds 65,000
Independent school bursar up to Pounds 64,000
Nigel de Gruchy, NASUWT Pounds 63,556
Principal, sixth-form college Pounds 55,000
Assistant gen sec, NASUWT Pounds 50,000
Kay Driver, PAT Pounds 48,031
Secondary head Pounds 45,000
Paul Mackney, NATFHE Pounds 43,050
Superteacher Pounds 40,000
NUT regional official up to Pounds 39,750
Deputy secondary head Pounds 36,000
Primary headteacher Pounds 32,000
Literacy coordinator up to Pounds 30,000
Top senior FE lecturer up to Pounds 29,073
Head of dept, secondary school Pounds 28,000
Classroom teacher Pounds 22,410
Newly-qualified teacher Pounds 15,012
Classroom assistant up to Pounds 11,000
Nursery nurse up to Pounds 10, 761
School secretary up to Pounds 10,000
Caretaker up to Pounds 9,891
Office for Standards in Education Chris Woodhead, chief inspector of schools, Pounds 115,000 + performance bonus up to 10 per cent.
Registered inspector Pounds 2,800-Pounds 3,000 for a week in school + up to 4 weeks prepost insp.
Lay inspector Pounds 140-200 per day in-school.
Subject inspector Pounds 200-250 per day.
(Rates for registered and other subject inspectors vary according to private contract.) Qualifications and Curriculum Authority Nick Tate, chief executive, Pounds 89,085.
William Stubbs, chairman, works two days per week. QCA reimburse the London Institute at the rate he earns there.
Teacher Training Agency Anthea Millett, chief executive, Pounds 78,511 + performance cash bonus up to 10 per cent + standard civil service pension.
Training and Enterprise Council National council chief executive: post was advertised as Pounds 85,000 + car + health insurance + pension.
Association of Colleges Chief executive (post vacant) Pounds 100,000 + car + pension. Chair collects no salary.
Ministers get Pounds 45,066 as an MP + the following according to their ministerial post: David Blunkett Pounds 45,201.
Estelle Morris Pounds 31,981.
Margaret Hodge Pounds 24,273.
George Mudie Pounds 24,273.
Charles Clarke Pounds 24,273.
Baroness Blackstone, a member of the House of Lords, gets Pounds 70,974.
Civil servants Michael Bichard, permanent sec DFEE (pay range) Pounds 94, 330 to Pounds 161,930.
Head of schools division (pay range) Pounds 76,710 to Pounds 112,040.
Michael Barber, head of standards and effectiveness unit, believed to be Pounds 72,000.
Chief education officer (shires) Pounds 65,000-Pounds 75,000 (estimate, varies according to post).
Education director (metropolitan) Pounds 50,000-65,000 (estimate, varies according to post).
Education director (London) Pounds 72,809-Pounds 74,145 Education director (unitary authority) Pounds 59, 449-Pounds 55,662.
Literacynumeracy co-ordinators Pounds 25-30,000.
Education department clerical officer Pounds 8,376-11,283 (outsideLondon).
Association of Teachers and Lecturers Peter Smith, general secretary, Pounds 79,592 + Pounds 15,122 pension contribs.
No full-time regional staff.
National Union of Teachers Doug McAvoy, general secretary, Pounds 72,792 + Pounds 2,130 London weighting.
Regional secretary Pounds 37,335-Pounds 39,750 (have regular teacher pensions).
National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers Nigel de Gruchy, general secretary, Pounds 63,556.
Assistant general secretary Pounds 50,000.
Regional officials Pounds 36,000.
All staff have additional non-contributory pension equivalent to 18 per cent of salary.
National Association of Head Teachers David Hart, general secretary, Pounds 63,330, plus Pounds 15,657 for acting as NAHT solicitor, plus car.
Secondary Heads Association John Dunford, gen secretary, Pounds 53, 000 + car.
Fieldworkers: retainer + day rate of Pounds 100-plus.
Professional Association of Teachers Kay Driver, general secretary, Pounds 48,031 + car + health insurance + contributory pension.
National Association of Teachers in Further and Higher Education Paul Mackney, general secretary, Pounds 43,050 + regular teacher's pension.
Regional officials Pounds 28,836-Pounds 31,290 + regular teacher's pension + car.
Secondary head Pounds 45,000.
Deputy 75-80 per cent of heads' pay. Head of department Pounds 28,000.
Superteacher Pounds 25-Pounds 40,000.
Classroom teacher Pounds 22,410.
Newly-qualified teacher Pounds 15,012.
Primary head Pounds 32,000.
Deputy 75-80 per cent of heads' pay.
Teacher with responsibility points Pounds 24,000.
Classroom teacher Pounds 22,410.
Newly-qualified teacher Pounds 15,012.
The majority of teachers are on Pounds 22,410 with secondary teachers having more opportunities for responsibility points.
State school support staff Secretaries Pounds 8, 500-10,000.
Classroom assistants Pounds 10,000-Pounds 11,000.
Canteen staff Pounds 4.35-4.97per hour.
Caretakers Pounds 8,982-Pounds 9,891.
Nursery nurses Pounds 8,376-Pounds 10,761.
Salaries can vary enormously, and can be affected by region.
But typically: A day-school head of Headmasters' Conference School Pounds 70-75,000 with a package which could include accommodation, a car, health insurance and children's school fees.
A teacher at an HMC school can receive 15 per cent more than an equivalent teacher in a state day school.
Heads and teachers in girls' private schools get paid less, probably the same as state school equivalents.
Teachers and heads of boarding schools will be paid considerably more, but will have many extra duties.
However the pay in some smaller, less prestigious private schools can be considerably less that state school salaries.
Independent school bursars Schools with 700+ pupils: boarding Pounds 44,000-Pounds 64,000, day Pounds 36,000-Pounds 50, 000.
Schools with 500-700 pupils: boarding Pounds 37,000-Pounds 54,000, day Pounds 32,000-Pounds 43,000.
Schools with 300-500 pupils: boarding Pounds 35,000-Pounds 48, 000, day Pounds 24,000-Pounds 37,000.
Schools with 100-300 pupils: boarding Pounds 30,000-Pounds 42,000, day Pounds 24,000-Pounds 37,000.
Principal depending on size of college Pounds 60,000-80,000.
Senior lecturer Pounds 21,999-Pounds 29,073.
Lecturer 16-point scale from Pounds 12,573-Pounds 24,354 Principals of agriculture and art and design colleges Pounds 55,000 Principals of sixth-form colleges Pounds 55,000 UNIVERSITIES
(figures taken from 1996-97 annual reports) Vice-chancellor, Manchester Metropolitan, Pounds 141,000 Vice-chancellor, Edinburgh, Pounds 130,000 Vice-chancellor, Cambridge, Pounds 112,000 Vice-chancellor, Imperial College, London Pounds 110,000 Vice-chancellor, Oxford, Pounds 85,413 Many of the salaries quoted are an average or taken from a range and will not always reflect variation by region or institution.
Additional research by Matthew Pennington