The headteacher of a Westcountry school who earns £156,000 a year – £14,000 more than the Prime Minister – has been suspended.
Steve Maddern, the executive headteacher of West Exe Technology College, was suspended by the schools’ governors on Thursday evening.
It is understood that staff at the 1,300-student specialist school in Exeter were officially told of the move at a meeting yesterday afternoon.
A spokesman for Devon County Council confirmed to the Western Morning News: “The governors of West Exe have suspended Mr Maddern. This is a neutral act. We are unable to comment further.”
The authority would not comment on the reasons for the suspension.
Controversy over the size of Mr Maddern’s salary emerged last month. The figure is about £60,000 more than the next highest paid head in the city, and almost £20,000 more than the principal of Exeter College.
Beverley Maddern, deputy headteacher at West Exe and Mr Maddern’s wife, earns £86,000.
It was later confirmed that governors at the school had asked Devon County Council to review the salaries of its senior teachers.
If pay levels are deemed to be excessive, the council could recommend that the governors – who set salaries – should impose a cut.
Then the following week it emerged that the local education authority was also conducting an internal audit to examine how the school’s budget had been spent.
Two auditors from the council’s in-house team have been at the school since March 13.
Both investigations are continuing. In the meantime, the school’s bid for academy status has been put on hold.
The debate has even reached the floor of the House of Commons after Ben Bradshaw MP, tabled a series of questions to the Department for Education. The Labour MP for Exeter raised a number of issues in Parliament including the pay packet of Mr Maddern and the employment of his wife as deputy head.
Schools Minister Nick Gibb, responded to the questions on behalf of the department. He said West Exe’s application for academy status was approved because it satisfied the department’s criteria.
He said: “As part of the conversion process we would expect matters that could impact on conversion to come to light as the department works with the school and the local council towards conversion, which is what has happened in the case of this school.”
Mr Maddern was unavailable for comment.