Teachers’ pay


State school teachers are employed by Local Education Authorities or the governing bodies of their schools, but their pay and conditions are set centrally by the Education Secretary.

Responsibility for recommending changes to the teachers' pay scale rests with the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB), which was set up by the School Teachers' Pay and Conditions Act 1991 following years of bitter negotiations and disputes that sometimes led to industrial action.

Although the STRB is independent, the Education Secretary can give it directions, including on financial matters, which it must take heed of. Its members are appointed by the Prime Minister.

The National Pay Scale provides a national framework for teachers' pay, but governing bodies are able to exercise some discretion on teachers' progress along it.

In England and Wales, there are six points on the Main pay scale, with different rates for Inner London, Outer London, the Fringe of London and the rest of England and Wales.

MAIN SCALE CLASSROOM TEACHERS 2011 (no change from 2010)

England and Wales Inner London Outer London Fringe

M1 £21,588 £27,000 £25,117 £22,626
M2 £23,295 £28,408 £26,674 £24,331
M3 £25,168 £29,889 £28,325 £26,203
M4 £27,104 £31,446 £30,080 £28,146
M5 £29,240 £33,865 £32,630 £30,278
M6 £31,552 £36,387 £35,116 £32,588

Each September, provided performance has been deemed to be satisfactory, teachers move one point up on the Main pay scale, until they reach the maximum basic rate of pay (M6).

When a teacher reaches the top of the Main pay scale, they may apply to qualify for the Upper pay scale. Applicants are assessed against eight national standards, and if successful are said to have crossed the 'threshold'.

PAY SCALE POST-THRESHOLD TEACHERS 2011 (no change from 2010)

England and Wales Inner London Outer London Fringe

U1 £34,181 £41,497 £37,599 £35,218
U2 £35,447 £43,536 £38,991 £36,483
U3 £36,756 £45,000 £40,433 £37,795

Progress along the Upper pay scale is not automatic, but is based on performance recommendations made by the head teacher.

Classroom teachers can also supplement their pay by taking on management responsibilities, which may qualify them for one of five management allowances.

Governing bodies have discretion to give recruitment and retention allowances, Special Educational Needs allowances, training and professional development allowances and out-of-school activity allowances, as stated in the school's Pay Policy.

This also sets out the criteria by which teachers will move along their pay scales.

All teachers are eligible for membership of the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS). Full-time employment, and part-time employment commencing on or after 1 January 2007, is automatically pensionable unless a teacher has formally opted out.

In 2011, the Government announced planned changes to the TPS following a fundamental review of public service pension provision by the independent Public Service Pensions Commission chaired by Lord Hutton.

The commission concluded that because people are now living longer, the cost of funding their lengthy retirements would become unsustainable under the present pension arrangements.

The proposed changes to the TPS include a move from a final salary pension to a career average pension scheme, a phased increase to teachers’ Normal Pension Age in line with changes to the State Pension Age and a rebalancing of employee and employer contributions. The increase in employee contributions will be phased in from April 2012; the rest of the changes will not be introduced before 2015.


Many teachers have long complained of feeling underpaid and undervalued. They are also concerned about working hours, deskilling through the introduction of classroom assistants, professional self-regulation, disciplinary arrangements and the public and media perception of teaching.

The teaching profession is strongly unionised and in recent years the unions have been increasingly working together to present a united front. The unions have been willing to call industrial action over pay and conditions, and these disputes have always attracted considerable public attention, stemming from the importance attached to education.

The introduction of performance-related pay (the upper pay scale) was highly controversial when it was introduced in 2000, with many teachers fearing that it would only benefit head teachers and management, while keeping pay for classroom teachers down.

In 2002/03, teachers' pay became controversial for different reasons. The government accepted a general increase of 3.5 per cent in January 2002, along with amendments to the Upper pay scale, but did not fund it completely, leaving local education authorities to make up the difference and resulting in heavy council tax increases.

Although the then DfES did subsequently provide additional funding, there remained the structural problem of the government deciding on teachers' pay and then giving money to local authorities on a different basis.

The Government's decision to impose a two-year public sector pay freeze for 2011/12 and the changes to the TPS were widely criticised by teaching unions. The NUT claimed the combination of a pay freeze and higher pension contributions could reduce teachers' take-home pay by 11 per cent in total.


Head teachers, deputy head teachers and assistant head teachers are paid a salary based on the 43 point leadership group pay spine.
Annual Salary England and Wales (excluding the London Area) ranges from £37,461 to £105,097
Annual Salary Inner London Area from £44,540 to £112,181
Annual Salary Outer London Area from £40,433 to £108,070
Annual Salary Fringe Area from £ 38,493 to £106,137

Advanced Skills Teachers (ASTs) have their own 18 point pay spine which ranges from £37,461 to £56,950 (£44,540 to £64,036 Inner London).
Excellent Teachers (ETs) have a minimum salary of £39,697 (£48,600 Inner London). ETs must have been on U3 for a minimum of 2 years when they take up post.
Unqualified teachers – such as instructors – are paid on a 10-point scale starting at £15,817 (£19,893 Inner London).

The main changes to the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document since 2010 include:
(a) the introduction of a 25 per cent limit to the discretionary payments which can be made to a head teacher
(b) a £250 payment to those unqualified teachers who earn a full-time equivalent of £21,000 or less

Source: Department for Education – 2011


"The Teachers' Pension Scheme will remain one of the best available and is fair to taxpayers and teachers. The current offer means teachers will continue to receive a pension that is better than anything offered to most private sector staff."

Schools' Minister Nick Gibb – November 2011

“The two-year pay freeze follows a long period of real terms cuts for teachers, when their pay awards were well below inflation. The impact of the pay freeze will be worsened by the increase in teacher pension contributions planned by the Government, and by continued high levels of inflation.
“Worsening the real and relative value of teachers’ pay will reduce the attraction of teaching as a career, damaging this vital profession and our economic prospects.”

Christine Blower, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers – 2011