Are teachers overpaid?
Tabloid papers love to cause chaos and one of the popular themes of their stories is lazy teachers earning huge salaries for a few weeks work each year. The 2020 COVID pandemic heightened the tensions between parents and teachers as schools “closed” and homeschooling kicked in. LBC hosted calls from parents furious that teachers wouldn’t work through their holidays to make up for lost time. Tabloid journalists wrote headlines about the lack-lustre experience their children had experience at the hands of snowflake, work-why teachers who seemingly spent lockdown in bed watching Netflix. The reality is that teachers work incredibly hard for a relatively small salary. You can live comfortably on a teaching salary but the journey is long and the sacrifices can be huge. How much do teachers get paid today? Let’s find out.
The UK Teachers Payscale
Schools in England follow a national teachers payscale which allows everyone from the their NQT year through to Leadership roles earn a relative amount. Teachers (usually) begin their career on the Main Pay Scale (or Range) and work their way from M1 to M6 with each increment being a year in service. These days pay progression tends to include performance management so failure to meet targets could mean that you remain on a certain pay bracket for multiple years. You can’t be moved down the pay scale for underperformance or any other reason. The value of each pay band increases by a Government agreed amount each year and tends to be around the whopping 1-2% range. As the pay scale is subject to Government adjustment it could theoretically be reviewed/improved at any stage. Don’t hold you breath here pals.
In the 2020-2021 academic year Teachers earned the following salaries:
|M1 – Newly Qualified Teacher||£25,714|
|M6 – Usually teachers with 6+ years service||£36,961|
Given that the majority of teachers complete a 3-year degree followed by a 1-year postgraduate teaching course; a 29 year-old teacher who trained straight out of University could be earning £36k a year. Not bad for a job with many positive aspects. However, due to inflation and house price rises a sub £40k salary isn’t hugely appealing; how do teaching salaries compare to other professions?
How much do Teachers get paid Vs Private Sector Jobs
Let’s face it, people don’t become teachers to earn large salaries. The private sector is obviously huge and well-funded so finding a comparison is difficult. Given that you need a degree to become a teacher (plus a post-grad in most cases) it would be fair to compare the M1 salary vs graduate schemes. Save the Student published a guide to starting salaries in the UK and this provides us with a useful comparison.
|Sector/Role||Average Starting Salary|
|Aldi Graduate Scheme||£44,000 (plus Audi A3!)|
Some of the above salaries are below a teacher’s starting salary but don’t involve the unpaid year that teacher training involves. Private sector graduate salaries are likely to rise quickly too. For example, Aldi’s absolutely bonkers £44k starting salary increases to £78k by year 5 and that’s today. In five years time that’s more likely to be around £85,000. You’d have to be a Headteacher of a large school to be in the same salary bracket and that would probably take 10-15 years of progression through the teaching career. Obviously the rewards of teaching aren’t monetary but it is interesting to see the range. Bear in mind that the above are average starting salaries; someone with a Computer Science degree from a respected university could find starting salaries of over £50,000. The murky world of investment banking would suggest quick progression from £50k+ to £150k in a few years.
Private sector roles can also lead to people starting their own businesses where prices are set by the individual. For example, you could earn £20 per-hour as a personal trainer in a local chain Gym or £100 per hour as a PT for private clients. One of the challenges many tired teachers have is recognising their worth in the job market beyond becoming a consultant. Teaching actually does provide you with a lot of skills that make you very employable.
How much do teachers earn compared to other Public Sector Key Workers
Tabloids love to pit public sector workers against each other. However, it is interesting to learn how much (or little) starting salaries are across the public sector. My brother is a nurse and when I learned his salary I was shocked and dismayed. So how much do teachers get paid in comparison to nurses, police officers and members of the fire brigade? The following assume a University degree has been obtained; this sometimes allows people to start further up the pay scale.
|Role||Starting Salary (once qualified)|
|Police Officer||£21,402- £24,780|
There is some parity between the different starting salaries but this doesn’t stop the tabloids stoking the fire. The same journalists that wrote about heroic nurses during the COVID-19 pandemic, happily facilitate abuse towards teachers and their salaries. How much teachers get paid should be distinct from these sorts of comparison and the above table suggests that rather than pit different workers against each other; public sectors deserve to be paid more as a whole!
Hourly Pay for UK Teachers
Teachers work long hours and this is conveniently ignored by many tabloid haters. Overtime pay doesn’t exist so a 60-hour week for a teacher is 20-hours of unpaid work! 20 hours that could be spent with family, in the gym, in the pub etc. Makes me a little angry just writing that. A huge amount of a teacher’s working week is unpaid! Once we take this in to account you can work out the hourly rate for teachers and it’s pretty depressing. I’ve written an article that will help you work out your own teaching hourly rate. Don’t shoot the messenger!