SENIOR staff at Britain's best-known girls' private schools earn much less than their counterparts in famous boys' schools, The TES can reveal.
Private schools' accounts show that Eton College, attended by Prince Harry, has 110 staff paid more than pound;40,000 a year while girls-only Roedean has just three.
Other establishments with few highly-paid staff include Malvern Girls'
College, Cheltenham Ladies' College and Benenden, alma mater of Princess Anne.
But long-established boys' schools, some of which now cater for both sexes, are good payers. At Uppingham, founded in 1584 and recently made completely co-educational, 41 staff earn more than pound;40,000. Nearly all of the staff at Eton and Uppingham earning more than pound;40,000 are teachers and include housemasters and heads of departments.
A state school teacher earning more than pound;40,000 would have to reach point 12 on the leadership spine, usually meaning they would be a deputy or assistant head with strategic management responsibility for the school and around 10 years' teaching experience.
Teachers who cross the performance pay threshold after six years can earn upwards of pound;27,861, but the most recent Government figures available show that in March 2000 before threshold pay rises began, the average state school teacher earned pound;23,980.
There are also big salary differences between state and private school heads. The top salary paid at Eton last year, where John Lewis has just retired as head, was pound;100,000-pound;119,999. Tony Little, the new head, is expected to be on a similar salary.
The head of a large private school could expect to earn pound;70,000 to pound;80,000, but at the five schools studied by The TES, the highest-paid employee, normally the head, earned at least pound;100,000 a year.
Government figures show that state school secondary heads earn an average of pound;48,230 compared with pound;35,130 for primary heads. A handful of secondary heads now earn pound;100,000.
Many private boarding schools and some day schools also offer heads and other staff free accommodation, and holidays are longer.
Stephen Szemerenyi, pay and conditions of service consultant to the Secondary Heads Association, said state heads "probably receive pound;15,000-pound;20,000 less than the average in the independent sector".
The Association of Teachers and Lecturers is about to launch a survey comparing pay in the independent and maintained sectors.
The Equal Opportunities Commission said the differences between pay in private boys' and girls' schools were intriguing. "They suggest that those who teach at all-girls schools are worth less in terms of pay."
Sheila Cooper, general secretary of the Girls' Schools Association, said:
"This has been worrying us for some time. There are complex reasons and history is one of them. It is taking time to redress the imbalance."
She said salaries might be based on the number of pupils in the school, adding: "Boys' schools tend to be larger than girls' schools."
Mike Sant of the Independent Schools Bursars' Association said girls'
schools tended not to have the huge endowments that some boys' schools enjoyed, and salaries could only be increased by raising fees.
At the Independent Schools Council, Dick Davison said a sample of the UK's top schools did not necessarily reflect trends across the sector. "These schools are wealthier, better endowed, have more investments and pay their staff more," he said.
But he added: "It may be that the market, relatively speaking, still undervalues staff in girls' schools."