Teaching is a career path chosen by thousands of individuals each year wanting to nurture and inspire the younger generations. Between 2021 and 2022, there were just over 37,000 new entrants to Initial Teacher Training for both primary and secondary teachers which is a steady increase since 2016. So, what makes teaching such a desirable career choice?

Aside from the sense of achievement most teachers get from educating their pupils, there are plenty of other rewards on offer from long summer holidays to pension schemes. Of course, another key reward is also the salary and in the education industry, there are clearly defined salary increments that are achievable with continued professional development.

Often, however, negotiating salaries and making sure you are being paid fairly is a tricky business. If you are currently in teaching or considering a career as an educator, it is important to know the salary expectations and entitlements in your field of work.

In this article, we'll cover everything you need to know about teachers' salaries from pay scales to additional benefits you are entitled to if you have chosen a career in teaching. So, let's get stuck in!

From 2021 to 2022, the average salary for a full-time teacher was £41,800. Teachers' salaries can also vary considerably depending on the seniority of the job role. The average salaries for teachers in different roles in the UK are as follows:

  • Classroom teacher - £38,400
  • Leadership teacher (excluding headteachers) - £56,400
  • Headteacher - £73,500

Despite these averages, there is no real simple answer to this question, as the salary you will receive as a teacher depends on your location, position and experience. Each teacher is allocated a band of pay based on these factors.

If you are a teacher employed in state schools in England and Wales, you will be paid according to the Teacher Pay Scales which are designed by the Department of Education (DfE). The Teacher Pay Scales are defined in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD). This is a legally binding document detailing the framework for teachers' salaries, to which all schools run by Local Education Authorities must adhere.

Unqualified Teacher Salary

An unqualified teacher is someone who has not yet obtained Qualified Teacher Status (QTS). To work in most schools in England, you will need QTS which can be achieved through postgraduate study, School-Centred Initial Teacher Training (SCITT), or School Direct.

Changes to the induction into teaching now mean that teachers starting induction on or after 1 September 2021 will be referred to as Early Career Teachers (ECTs) instead. However, the title change does not affect the pay scale and ECTs can still progress both during and after their induction.

Both unqualified teachers and ECTs are paid according to the six-point pay scale which is set by the School Teachers' Review Body. The actual pay an unqualified or EQT teacher will receive can vary as their salary is at the discretion of the establishment in which they are employed. Your pay can be increased to a higher level on the pay scale if you are performing above and beyond the requirements set out in your job description.

The table below shows the pay scale that unqualified or ECT teachers will be entitled to, and the salaries you can look to achieve when you progress in terms of experience and performance.

Salary ScaleEngland (Excluding London & Fringe)Outer LondonInner LondonFringe AreaWales
Min 1£18,419£21,832£23,099£19,613£18,487
Max 6£28,735£32,151£33,410£29,924£29,238

Additionally, unqualified teachers in Northern Ireland can expect a salary of £15,358 per annum. Scotland does not have a rate of pay for unqualified teachers but there is a band included in the main grade scale for probationer teachers who are graduates or NQTs.

Newly Qualified Teacher Salary

Once you have achieved your teaching qualification and become a Newly Qualified Teacher (NQT), you will start on the lowest salary bracket of the main pay scale which is £25,714 to £32,157 depending on where you work in the UK. You will then be able to progress up the scale of pay by taking on additional responsibilities and developing your teaching skills over the course of your career.

Qualified Teacher Salary

As a fully qualified teacher, your pay may fall into one of two categories:

  • Main Pay Category
  • Upper Pay Category

Additionally, teachers who have shown excellent command of their job role and expertise within their field can also apply for Lead Practitioner Accreditation which entitles them to higher salaries than classroom teachers.

Main Pay Range

As previously mentioned, NQTs and Probationers are introduced to the lowest point on the salary scale and can work their way up once they have shown their capability and skills. The following table shows the salary brackets for the main pay scale in England, London, the Fringe Area, Wales, and Northern Ireland.

Salary ScaleEngland (Excluding London & Fringe)Outer LondonInner LondonFringe AreaWalesNorthern Ireland
Min M1£25,714£29,915£32,157£26,948-£24,137
Max M6£36,961£41,136£42,624£38,174£37,974£35,277

The pay scale in Scotland is slightly different as the scale runs from 0-to 6 with Probationers starting on 0 at a salary of £27,498. The highest salary on the main scale is £41,412 for the more experienced teachers.

Upper Pay Range

Once a teacher has progressed through the main pay scale they may be able to apply to move to the upper pay scale. This is provided they show their competence in all the standards within their job description, along with proving their substantial and consistent contributions and achievements in an educational setting. Teachers' salaries on the upper pay scale are as follows:

Salary ScaleEngland (Excluding London & Fringe)Outer LondonInner LondonFringe AreaWales
Min U1£38,690£42,559£46,971£39,864£39,368
Max U3£41,604£45,766£50,935£42,780£42,333

Headteacher Salary

The highest salary you can aspire to as a teacher in the UK is that of a headteacher. Headteacher salaries vary depending on location and the age and number of pupils that are at the school. Salary ranges are as follows:

  • England and Wales (Excluding London and the Fringe Area) - £47,735 to £117,197
  • Outer London - £51,082 to £120,513
  • Inner London - £55,715 to £125,098
  • Fringe Area - £48,901 to £118,356
  • Wales - £48,571 to £119,248
  • Scotland - £51,207 to £98,808
  • Northern Ireland - £43,664 to £108,282

Teaching Assistant Salary

Teaching assistants help children with their reading and writing, as well as provide support to teachers by assisting with learning activities in the classroom.

Teaching assistants (TAs) are not paid by a national pay scale like other education providers, instead, their salaries are at the discretion of the Local Education Authority (LEA). If you are a level one TA, the average salary you can expect to earn is around £12,621, working your way up to £23,000 per annum as you gain more experience.

Additional Payments and Benefits

In addition to a standard salary, there are some additional payments that you can earn as a teacher if you have taken on extra responsibilities that extend further than your typical job requirements. These include:

  • Special Education Needs (SEN) Allowance: paid to qualified teachers working with SEN pupils in a specialist school. The allowance ranges between £2,270 and £4,479 per annum.
  • Teaching and Learning Responsibility (TLR) Payments: awarded to qualified teachers who have undertaken additional responsibilities for the purpose of providing high-quality teaching. Payments range from £2,873 to £14,030 per annum.

Teachers' Pension Scheme

All teachers are eligible for the Teachers' Pensions Scheme. The scheme means that member teachers are paid income in their retirement based on the earnings over their careers.

The type of Teachers' Pension Scheme you will receive depends on when you joined the scheme and how close to retirement you are. There are four arrangements which decide whether you will be paid based on your final salary or an average of your earnings over your career. The arrangements are as follows:

  • Protected Scheme Member: Applies if you were an active member before 1 April 2012 and you were 10 years or less away from your normal pension age (NPA) on that date. In this case, you would be paid based on your final salary so long as you don't take a break from your career for more than 5 years.
  • Tapered Scheme Member: Applies if you became an active member before 1 April 2012 and you were within 10 to 13 years 5 months of the NPA on that date. You will be paid using the career average arrangement after transitioning out of a tapered period — this is the period in which you remain in final salary.
  • Transition Scheme Member: Applies to you if you were more than 13 years 5 months away from NPA on 31 March 2012 and are an active member. You will also be paid your pension according to the career average scheme.
  • New Scheme Member: You will be in the career average arrangement if you joined the Teachers' Pension Scheme on or after 1 April 2015.