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Primary school teacher: Salary and conditions

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  • New entrants to the profession in England, Wales and Northern Ireland start on the main salary scale, which rises incrementally from £21,588 to £31,552. Enhanced pay scales apply for teachers working in or near London. In Scotland, the new entrants' starting salary is £21,438, rising incrementally to £34,200. Details are available from the teaching unions and the Teaching Agency.
  • After gaining experience and expertise, teachers can apply to 'pass the threshold' and go onto an upper scale, which rises incrementally to £36,756. Particularly skilled classroom teachers in England and Wales may go on to become advanced skills teachers (ASTs) or excellent teachers (ETs). Other teachers may move into management positions. These roles attract considerable salary increases: ASTs earn £37,461-£56,950; ETs earn £39,697-£52,090.
  • Academies and free schools set their own pay and working conditions. In some, this may be very similar to local authority schools, while in others it may vary considerably. 
  • Experienced classroom teachers undertaking additional responsibility may receive teaching and learning responsibility (TLR) payments.
  • Most teachers work long hours during term time, often over 50 hours a week. They are often in school before the school day starts and stay after the pupils have gone home. Marking and preparation are usually done at home. Teachers have up to 13 weeks' holiday per year, but most do work on marking, planning and preparation during this time. Parents' evenings, school concerts, clubs, after-school activities and preparation for school inspections all take up extra hours.
  • Primary teachers are usually based in their own classrooms, although they may teach elsewhere in school to cover for staff shortages or because of their specialist subject area. Resources vary between schools.
  • Teaching posts are available in all areas, although there are more jobs in towns and cities than in rural areas. Certain areas of work, such as nursery or special needs, are only available in some schools.
  • Part-time and temporary work is freely available. Career breaks are possible, after which, support and refresher courses are available. A very high proportion of primary school teachers are women and increasing numbers of women now hold senior posts. The Teaching Agency is encouraging more men, people from ethnic minorities and people with disabilities into teaching.
  • There may be occasional trips with pupils, or staff development opportunities, which involve staying away from home and/or overseas travel.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.


Further information


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Written by Laura Stanley, University of Wolverhampton
July 2012

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