01/03/2012 12:04 GMT | Updated 01/03/2012 12:05 GMT

Steve Maddern, Headteacher Of West Exe Technology College, Paid More Than PM

A secondary school headmaster is earning a salary almost £10,000 more than the Prime Minister's.

Steve Maddern, executive head of West Exe Technology College, is paid £152,211 per year, compared with David Cameron's pay of £142,500.

The salary paid to Mr Maddern at the 1,300-student specialist technology school in Exeter, Devon, is almost three times the average pay for headteachers, which according to the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is £55,000 per year.

Paul Smith, who resigned last month as the chairman of governors at West Exe, which set the salary, confirmed the figure, saying: "He did at that time have over-riding responsibility for other schools."

Maddern's position as executive head means that he also has a role at St James' School in Exeter and Honiton Community College, based in the east Devon town.

Asked whether the salary was too high, Smith said: "It depends where you start from."

He had earlier told the Exeter Express and Echo: "The main reason the amount was agreed was because Maddern was made an executive headteacher which meant he had responsibilities outside of school, for example he helped run St James' School and Honiton Community College.

"The school also has a teacher training facility based at the school for which he is managing director.

"Last year the school achieved its best ever results, a lot of that is due to the leadership team under Mr Maddern. It's very important in a large school to have a team that works well."

Under current rules, headteachers are paid according to a central banding system, and school governing bodies can decide to award discretionary payments or benefits, without a limit, in certain circumstances - such as if a head takes on responsibility for an extra school, if a school is causing concern or there are difficulties recruiting or retaining a headteacher.

A recommendation contained in a School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) report last May called for a 25% limit on the "discretionary" rewards a school leader can receive, on top of their salary, for taking on additional responsibilities.

The STRB, which makes recommendations on teachers' pay, says in its report that evidence suggests that increasing numbers of heads are being paid above the pay bands, and there are "multiple unconstrained discretions".

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union said then that the move was inappropriate at a time when public sector workers were facing a pay freeze, and warned that the report, and Education Secretary Michael Gove, had failed to tackle serious issues surrounding headteachers' pay.

Christine Channon, portfolio holder for schools and learning at Devon County Council, said today she was "surprised" at the size of the salary and said the council had not been consulted before it was set.

"It is completely in the hands of the governors," she said.

A spokeswoman for the NAHT said today that while £55,000 was the average salary for a headteacher there were wide variations.

"A rural setting is probably going to be paid less than if you are in charge of a large inner-city school, also if it is primary or secondary," she said.

"There are (also) various add-ons they can expect to get, for example if they have leadership of many schools."

Maddern was unavailable for comment.