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Early years teacher: Salary and conditions

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  • Salaries for newly qualified teachers (NQTs) in England, Wales and Northern Ireland start on the minimum rate of the main pay range which is £22,244. The pay range rises on an incremental basis up to £31,831.
  • Teachers working within the inner and outer London areas receive additional allowances.
  • Teachers in Scotland start on salaries of £21,867 and with experience can work up to salaries of £34,887.
  • After gaining experience and expertise, teachers who reach the top of the main pay range can apply to be assessed to progress to the upper pay scale. This ranges from £35,218 to £37,871. Higher salaries can be achieved by reaching advanced skills and leadership group levels.
  • In Scotland, experienced teachers who wish to remain in the classroom rather than pursue management careers can take part in the chartered teacher programme, which involves further skills development. Being a chartered teacher attracts a higher salary.
  • Teaching hours vary between schools but are generally around 9am to 3.30pm, although an earlier start is more realistic to prepare and set up activities for the day. Some extra hours may also be required for staff meetings, inspections and parent consultations, plus occasional home visits to meet children and parents.
  • Working hours in a nursery are usually the same as in a school but, as nursery-age children often attend either a morning or an afternoon session, two separate groups may be taught in one day.
  • Early years teachers work as part of a team with other childcare professionals, especially nursery nurses. Although there is no marking to do, there is paperwork, which can often mean some evening and weekend work at home.
  • Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible as a supply teacher or as a freelance early years consultant. Part-time, temporary work and career break opportunities are available. Job shares are also possible.
  • Early years teachers are employed in all areas of the UK.
  • The proportion of women in early years teaching is higher than in general primary teaching.
  • The constant need for energy, ideas and creativity, as well as the necessary paperwork, can affect home life, as can activities out of work hours.
  • Travel within the working day is rare, except to attend home visits. Absences from home overnight and overseas work or travel are unlikely.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

Written by AGCAS editors
September 2015

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