The cost of living has increased to crisis levels impacting all of us, particularly those working within education. With teachers' salaries estimated between £36,854 in London and £38,581 per year throughout the UK and around the £18,000 mark for a teaching assistant role , it’s no wonder the nation’s education workers are feeling the economic pinch. It’s not just pay however that is contributing towards the skills shortages in the education sector.

A deep dive into motivation for leaving teaching was carried out by The National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER) , who recently revealed that most teaching staff do not necessarily move into higher-paying jobs outside of teaching when they leave. Findings suggest that a large proportion leave employment or retire, and a majority of those who left moved into other teaching roles (such as the private sector) or jobs in the wider education sector.

The research also revealed that only 2% of teachers who left the profession switched to a different professional career, and more than two-thirds of teachers who left for another job remained working in the wider education sector after leaving.

Money management adding to already rising stress levels

A recent survey of 3,000 teachers carried out by Tes as part of the 2022 staff wellbeing survey revealed that 67% of UK education workers said their workload is not manageable — compared to 36% across the rest of the world. And only 38% of school staff in the UK feel confident in their roles, compared to 79% last year.

Further reinforcing the pressures highlighted above, a survey by NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union , into teacher wellbeing has found that 91% reported that their job has adversely impacted their mental wellbeing in the last 12 months.

Those who worked through the pandemic experienced workloads that were already excessive, rising even further, forcing many to look to their employer to put processes in place to relieve the burden. As a result, 78% of respondents to NASUWT’s survey said that their school does not provide staff with workspaces that promote wellbeing, and two-thirds of teachers say that their school does not have measures in place to monitor and manage stress and burnout.

In order to live comfortably and enjoy a fulfilling career in education, all staff need to implement innovative money management solutions during these difficult financial times. Some of these strategies focus on everyday living, while other methods involve tweaking the work days.

Tips to help manage the current cost of living crisis

Living on teaching, classroom support or non-teaching support staff salaries may not be easy in today’s economic climate, but these viable solutions can positively impact your bottom line.

1. Make a record of expenses

With the cost of living on the rise, it’s important to gather all the details of your monthly spending. By recording your everyday expenses, you can get an overview of your spending and make the necessary adjustments.

When recording expenses, look over past bills and determine an average amount for certain areas such as food, energy, clothing, transportation, entertainment, and work supplies. Now that you have data on your spending habits, focus on areas that stand out to you as excessive spending.

Note where you could cut back and develop a plan to budget more wisely. Then, record your next month’s spending and see if your changes impacted your savings.

2. Prioritise your spending

The next step involves prioritising your spending habits. Take an individualised approach as you list which financial goals are most important to you. Education staff just starting out in their careers may have far different priorities, such as paying off loans and saving for a house, than preparing for retirement and looking forward to travelling.

Make a list of your financial planning goals. When you see what’s most important, you can better make the hard decisions on where you may need to cut back.

3. Be frugal and look for sales

Whether it’s buying products for the home or the classroom, school staff who apply frugal spending habits can make the most of their salary. These habits include taking advantage of Black Friday, New Year and seasonal sales and avoiding impulse buys.

Searching for deals may take planning and patience, but it’s worth the extra effort. Consider buying school supplies throughout the year instead of making one large purchase before the semester begins.

After the back-to-school rush, supplies become deeply discounted. Although there may not be as much of a selection, the amount you’ll save will be worth the trade-off.

4. Cut costs by meal planning

UK food prices are rising at their fastest rate in 42 years as the cost of living crisis continues to squeeze household budgets . These price hikes include buying takeaways, convenience food to save time at work and eating at restaurants. Meal planning and eating homemade meals can help slash your spending and cut out any unnecessary expenditure.

Those who prepare their own lunches from home have the best opportunity for savings. Start with planning your meals, especially lunches and dinners, in advance and creating a grocery list that makes the most of your food purchases.

5. Manage your money using online tools

Look for online tools that offer ways to help you organise your budget. These tools and apps can help you track your spending, provide data where you could save, and alert you to sales. Plus, take advantage of online banking for up-to-date information on your account activities.

Also, if possible, use one credit card for your expenditures. Look for cards that offer incentives like bonuses and cash back. And check your balance online often to keep track of your spending and to look for fraudulent activity.

How can teachers and school support staff help their school still deliver a top service when money is tight?

All staff members feel the impact of the current cost of living crisis within their schools. When money is tight, that pinch also impacts school budgets. However, education staff still want to provide top service for their students. Fortunately, there are steps that can be taken to help their schools stretch their resources.

Budget classroom supplies

Findings from NASUWT , found that among the 4,386 members who responded to the survey, 20% said they paid for classroom resources at least once a week, with half of those saying they did so “several times a week”.

Classroom supplies can add up quickly. As a teacher, you may make a significant number of purchases each academic year to keep your classroom in top shape.

Try applying these budget-friendly ideas for buying classroom supplies:

  • Make it a goal to come in under budget (for your personal expenses and the school’s budget)
  • Cut costs for classroom supplies with yearly sales opportunities
  • Ask the community and local businesses for donations and special discounts

Make sustainable choices to cut energy costs

Energy bills have skyrocketed adding to the cost of living crisis. Schools feel the pinch as more of their budgets go toward electricity, heating, and cooling.

As a member of staff, you can make sustainable choices to help cut your school’s energy costs. The following steps may seem small, but over time they can significantly impact savings.

  • Turn off lights in unused classrooms
  • Use natural lighting instead of overhead lighting
  • Suggest your school invests in motion-activated lights
  • Turn off computers and printers after school and over weekends
  • Report inefficient heating systems

Brainstorm ways your school can raise funds

All school staff can offer suggestions that can help your school raise much-needed funds; it doesn't just have to be the school leaders. From hosting special events to offering school space for rent, these creative ideas can pay off. When your school gains money, your students will ultimately benefit.


about the author
Leanne Kessell.jpg
Leanne Kessell.jpg

Leanne Kessell

business development manager

School Business and Technical Support Specialist