What pay can I expect as a newly qualified teacher?

It may involve challenges and demand a real commitment, but teaching is widely considered to be one of the most emotionally rewarding professions there is; it is also more financially rewarding than is popularly believed. This article is designed to help new teachers understand the NAT pay scale and appreciate the benefits they can expect to receive when embarking upon a teaching career.

NQT salary expectations

Teaching pay bands

In England, Wales, and Northern Ireland, the standard newly qualified teacher salary is £21,258 per annum. In Scotland it is slightly lower at £20,438, but this is compensated for by a generally lower cost of living and the greater earning potential of those who rise to the top of the profession. In London, wages are weighted so that the average NQT salary is £21,804, and top earnings are considerably higher.

Occasionally, newly qualified teachers are able to start at a slightly higher pay grade in their first NQT job. This will usually depend on having prior teaching experience, which might be gained from voluntary work.

Teachers in England earn, on average, £40 per hour, making them the sixth best paid in the world according to the OECD. Newcomers should bear in mind, however, that this figure only accounts for classroom hours and not for the time spent outside the school working on things like lesson plans.

Additional benefits

In addition to their basic salaries, teachers enjoy a number of benefits such as entry into the country’s second largest public sector pension scheme. Financial bonuses called TLR (Teaching and Learning Responsibility) payments and SEN (Special Needs Allowance) payments are available to those taking on extra commitments and can rise from £2,001 a year to £12,393, depending on the level of responsibility involved.

Taking on work like this will increase the chance of being recommended to move two steps up the pay scale at the start of the next school year, as opposed to the single step that happens automatically at this time.

In addition to this, teachers benefit from generous holiday entitlements, though these are fixed and it is expected that some of the time will be used for preparing classroom work.

Opportunities for progression

Salary progression in teaching is automatic as long as one is able to stay in work, which is relatively easy at present due to high levels of demand. Teachers who have progressed through the starting salary scale can apply to be moved onto a higher scale with the potential to earn around £37,000 per annum before bonuses.

In England and Wales, there is the option of moving into an Advanced Skills Teacher or Excellent Teacher position, if one has the talent. This entails a substantial salary increase. Other teachers aim to move into deputy head and head teacher roles or other managerial positions within their appropriate Departments of Education.

Another option for teachers in England and Wales is to seek employment in academies and free schools, which set their own salaries. Because of the lower qualification requirements these can be good places to gain experience before moving into a state school teaching position.


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