A Westcountry headteacher is earning £188,569 – a third more than the Prime Minister – the Western Morning News, has learned as the row over public sector pay erupted last night.
Tony Alexander, Principal of Exmouth Community College, received the large sum in salary and pensions contributions in 2009-10. David Cameron, by contrast, earns £142,500 for running the country.
Unions said it was "outrageous" that a headteacher should earn more than the Prime Minister.
Details of Mr Alexander's pay emerged after it was revealed a primary school head in south east London received £276,000.
But the pay packet for the Devon headteacher will raise eyebrows in a region where average incomes are below the national average. Despite repeated calls to Exmouth Community College – the largest secondary school in the UK – no one could be contacted for a comment last night.
A spokesman for Devon County Council said: "The salaries of headteachers are a matter for governing bodies."
However, a source at County Hall noted how council chief executive Phil Norrey had taken a five per cent pay cut at the start of this year, reducing his pay package to £142,114. It came after the Conservatives took control of the authority last year, vowing to cut costs.
Last month it emerged Kevin Lavery, chief executive of Cornwall Council, cost the taxpayer £239,000 a year after employers' pension contributions were added. He was one of 30 council officials in Cornwall earning in excess of £100,000. However, no teachers were on the council list of top wage earners.
Mr Alexander is one of the most high profile headteachers in the Westcountry. Inspectors from Ofsted last November rated the school overall only as "good" not "outstanding", while the sixth form was just "satisfactory". Earlier this month Mr Alexander hosted former X Factor winner Steve Brookstein.
In February pupils at Exmouth Community College were told to wear coats in some lessons after the heating "failed catastrophically".
Until January this year another Devon headteacher was also earning more than the PM. Geoff Rees retired as head of Ivybridge Community College after earning £185,859 including pay and pension contributions in 2008-09.
Education Secretary Michael Gove is considering proposals to cap headteachers' pay amid growing concern that too many could be earning massive salaries.
Under the plans, no head would be able to earn more than the Prime Minister, who currently receives £142,500 following a pay cut.
Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT teaching union, said it had been "raising growing concerns" about regulation and pay "for years".
She said: "The coalition Government's recently announced proposal to impose a cap so that heads can't earn more than the Prime Minister is grossly wide of the mark of what is required.
"This is a systemic problem. There needs to be publication of headteachers' pay and rewards, proper scrutiny by local authorities and a detailed review of the system by the School Teachers' Review Body.
"We have already warned the coalition Government that the last thing schools need are more freedoms and deregulation to create the conditions for even more excessive payments and rewards to be made."
Dr Mary Bousted, general secretary of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (ATL), said there were concerns that semi-independent academy schools are exempt from Freedom of Information (FOI) requests, which means their staff salaries are kept secret.
Academies are free to pay staff what they wish, and it has been claimed that academy heads are highly paid.
Dr Bousted said: "The fact we don't know is a problem. It's impossible for us to say because we can't get hold of the information.
"There needs to be a properly worked out framework for teachers' pay and the same for leadership."
Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers (NUT), said: "This is something that should be transparent, and known to school committees, to ourselves, to everybody."
Ted Purcell, GMB public services officer, said: "It is outrageous that a head teacher in a local community school should earn more money than the Prime Minister."
Around 100 headteachers across England are thought to be earning more than £150,000.