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Special educational needs teacher: Salary and conditions

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  • New entrants to teaching in England, Wales and Northern Ireland begin on the main salary scale, which starts from £21,588, rising incrementally to £31,552. Teachers working within the inner and outer London areas, as well as the South East of England receive additional allowances.
  • A special educational needs (SEN) teacher's starting point depends on the employer, qualifications and level of responsibility. Consideration may be given to pre-entry experience.
  • An additional allowance, ranging from £2,001 to £3,954, is awarded for those working in the SEN field.
  • After gaining experience and expertise, teachers who reach the top of the main scale can apply to be assessed to progress to the upper pay scale. This ranges from £34,181 to £36,756.
  • In Scotland, the main pay scale ranges from £21,438 to £34,200.
  • After gaining experience and expertise, Scottish teachers who reach the top of the Scottish main scale can apply to receive chartered teacher status. Chartered teachers earn up to £41,925.
  • This is open to SEN teachers as well as mainstream teachers. For full details of the Scottish teachers’ pay scale, see the Scottish Negotiating Committee for Teachers (SNCT) .
  • SEN teachers generally work a usual school day: from 9am to 3.30pm, Monday to Friday, during term time. This may vary depending on the school and part of the country. In state schools in England and Wales, you would work 39 weeks a year in school. Approximately half a day per week is given to teachers for planning, preparation and assessment (PPA) time. However, often many teachers need to work outside school hours to cover responsibilities such as preparing lessons, creating individual education plans, marking, attending meetings and preparing for parents evenings. Some teachers may also be involved in out-of-school activities, such as trips and sporting activities.
  • In Scotland, working hours for SEN teachers are the same as for mainstream teachers. The standard working week is 35 hours. There is a maximum of 22.5 hours' classroom contact time for all teachers in Scotland, with the rest accounted for by collaborative working and continuing professional development (CPD).
  • Self-employment or freelance work is sometimes possible. Teachers who are well qualified may be able to supplement income through private home tuition work.
  • Part-time or supply work is usually available for teachers registered with the local authority (LA) or a supply agency.
  • Career break opportunities may be available, depending on the teacher's post and the employer.
  • SEN teachers are employed in all areas of the UK.
  • SEN teachers based in one school have little occasion to travel, but may attend meetings, training and conferences. Occasional residential trips may occur, but overnight absence from home is not generally required.
  • SEN teachers based in teams outside schools travel weekly to a variety of schools.

Salary figures are intended as a guide only.

Written by Laura Stanley, University of Wolverhampton
March 2013

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