An executive headteacher of a federation of local-authority maintained primary schools has been revealed as one of the best-paid school leaders in the country.

Sir Craig Tunstall, who leads the Gipsy Hill Federation, was paid a total of £330,394 last year. His salary was revealed by investigative website ourcity.London earlier today, and was listed in Lambeth Council’s accounts.

The federation is made up of eight local authority-maintained schools, as well as two children’s centres.

The disclosure challenges arguments made by some critics who claim the government’s academies system is to blame for a rise in salaries paid to staff overseeing multiple schools – particularly executive headteachers and chief executives of academy trusts.

But Alasdair Smith, national secretary of the Anti Academies Alliance, told Schools Week: “This has happened because of the academies system, because people think it’s legimate to promote this, and that [this amount of pay] is the going rate in the market.

We do not do quick-fix remedies

“This culture has seeped into public services because of the academy system.”

He said the payment – more than double the £143,000 paid to the Prime Minister – was “obscene”.

Lambeth Council said Tunstall’s salary was included in its annual accounts because, despite being a school employee, the schools are not academies or free schools and fall within the “group boundaries of local government”.

However when asked for comment, the council referred Schools Week back to the school because they “set his pay”.

A spokesperson for the federation said Tunstall is paid according to “appropriate regulated bodies for teachers pay” which it said follow national financial regulations.

“Sir Craig and his senior leadership team have gone through an amazing journey in each of our eight schools and two children’s centres across 11 sites. We do not do quick-fix remedies.

“The work they have done is substantial, and sustainable into the future. At the heart of all we do (and all that Sir Craig has ever done) is to ensure that every child in each of our schools get the very best education we can deliver.”

The spokesperson pointed out that six of the schools have Ofsted “outstanding” grades, with the other two rated “good” with outstanding features.

The highest paid chief executive in the country is Sir Dan Moynihan, who earns £395,000 for running 37 schools (as of March) under the Harris academy trust.

An investigation by Schools Week earlier this year, ranked chief executives by their salary per good or outstanding school. Sir Steve Lancashire, paid £24,444 per school, topped the table.

However Tunstall’s pay-per-good school would put him way out in front, at £41,299 per school.

Tunstall was awarded a knighthood for his services to education in 2014. He is also a national leader of education and one of the federation’s schools is a national support school.

Schools Week understands there is no provision for a maintained federation to have a chief executive.

The Gipsy Hill spokesperson described Tunstall as a chief executive headteacher, but he is listed as chief executive on its website. The spokesperson did not respond to a request to clarify this point.

The school teachers’ pay and conditions 2016 state that a head’s pay should not exceed the maximum of a certain headteacher group – the highest of which is £83,079 to £115,582 – by 25 per cent.

However Schools Week has been told there is a clause that allows governing bodies to go above this cap in exceptional circumstances – although they need to obtain independent advice and a business case.

It was also reported last month that the federation has been given permission to convert all its schools into academies. However the federation spokesperson declined to comment on this point.

The federation is due to open a secondary free school next year.