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How valuable are teachers?

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In the latest edition of the TES is a statement that ‘excellent teachers will be able to qualify for salaries of more than £35 000 under a package for senior staff being unveiled by the UK government next week’. Another statement says that advanced skills teachers’ (ASTs) pay already ranges from £29 000 to £47 000.

In another article a 28 year old civil engineering graduate states he is expecting to earn half his current salary when he qualifies as a physics teacher. A newly qualified teacher can currently expect to earn around £19 000.

I would suggest that classroom teachers who earn more than £35 000 are not that numerous and those that earn £47 000 are about as common as hens teeth! Realistically, therefore, salaries for most teachers at the chalk face probably range between £19 000 and £35 000 in the UK.

It would be interesting to hear how these salaries compare with those in other countries and what kind of duties these teachers are expected to undertake in addition to their actual classroom teaching.

Edited by Maggie Jarvis
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Australian salaries:

They vary a little from state to state, but here in Tasmania, due to an arrangement we have with our state governement, we get the average salary of all the states and territories, so you will get a fairly good idea of the range. Beginning teachers after 4 yrs training get $39,000. We are state employed and receive yearly increments of about $1000 up until $57000. After that, you must apply for promotion for AST3 (Head of Dept) APrincipal and Principal. These salaries range from $61000 to $90000 depending on size of school, but Principals also get a 11% bonus if they meet criteria set by the DoE. This "bonus" is reachable by all of them as it only requires them to do what is expected of them. There's a whole history behind this to do with contracts which I won't go into.

We are now in discussion with the employer about Advanced Skills teachers receiving a "reward" in the form of extra pay or time off, if they meet set criteria which are created and accepted by teachers. We are also trying to fend off the Federal minister's push for performance related pay and league tables. (Yes, they are a right wing government)

To get a feel for how these salaries relate to England, I think it is more accurate to halve them than to use the actual current currency rate which is 40c to the pound at the moment. We acknowledge that Principal salaries are fairly low compared with other countries, but our govt is not willing to do more at the moment.

So, in reality, the majority of classroom salaries here seem to be much like the UK

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PS Didn't answer bit about extra duties.

They will be expected to take on such things as mentoring student teachers and beginning teachers, running small depts, providing PD, etc. We have set hours of contact (44 per fortnight for primary and 40 for secondary) so if such a role is undertaken, it would be either on a reduced load or extra pay. We also have set hours on campus (70 a fortnight) so no one can be made to stay more than that.

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In New Brunswick there is technically no shortage of teachers as a result of there being so many supply teachers, and the reason there are so many supply teachers is that you MUST supply teach in order to be taken on as a full time teacher.... after about 7 years.

Supply teachers earn about 118 canadian dollars a day, thats about 50 quid. They have no formal contract and therefore no holiday or sick pay and no gaurantee of work.

I hate to say it but there are teachers out there worse off financially than those in the UK! IF you stick around long enough to get a permanent positions you could earn between 40 and 60,000 canadian dollars a year - thats about 17,000 to about 28,000 pounds.

As for Rwanda, well the average secondary school teacher is paid about 100 pounds a month and a primary school teacher would earn between 30 and 70 pounds a month. It does go a little further than in Britian though! However, Development agencies pay translation staff about 200 dollars per week so teachers are leaving in droves to work for the organisations who are trying to help the country develop! Ironic huh?!


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Having never worked in either France or Germany, I can only comment on my experiences with native speaker language teachers in our department (mod langs) who say that both pay and conditions are worse here. The main difference in terms of status is that most teachers there are civil servants - they are guaranteed a job for life and have a status in society which we in the UK can only dream of! They are also considerably better paid I believe - and in France, I think they only have to teach 18 hours a week with NO other expectations. (ie no cover, few meetings). In both countries teachers are not expected to be at school when they are not teaching - certainly in our school, we're not even supposed to go off site at lunchtime without permission. Both German schools I worked in as an assistant (in different authorities) got time of in lieu of parents evenings as well...

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Being paid 15000 euros ( nearly 10 000 pounds) as a newly qualified teacher is not what I call an advantage... no big expectations to progress (no matter if you are a lazzy one or a workhaolic) , cut in salaries...

You're right come and work in France :D

Jean Philippe

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  • 4 weeks later...

(This is an edited version of a post I put up this morning - I'm afraid I hadn't checked the forum carefully enough, and started a new topic, when I should have joined this one).

I've thought of four indicators, which might or might not give accurate and comparable information (I'm no mathematician or statistician):

1. My gross pay per month in euros: 2849 euros (at an exchange rate of 9.3 Swedish kronor/euro)

2. My net pay (i.e. after tax and all other deductions) per month in euros:1935 euros

3. My living costs (in my case rent on my 4-bedroomed flat, including all heating bills): 677 euros

4. Value-Added Tax standard rate: 25%


Some additional information:

1. I work at something like a polytechnic in Sweden, but I think that my salary is comparable to that of school teachers. In Sweden schools are the responsibility of local councils, and pay rates differ from area to area.

I get this money for working 1750 hours/year. However, a) 240 hours are 'free' for personal skills development and administration; B) we work a system of 'factors', so that an hour spent in the classroom (which is only actually 45 minutes …) is equal to 3 or 4.5 of these 1750 hours, to take preparation and follow-up into account.

2. This is all - in Sweden all taxes, local and national, are deducted at source, so this net pay is arrived at after local and state taxes + national insurance contributions have been deducted. I don't pay anything else in the form of 'taxes', 'charges' or 'contributions' to the state, apart from consumption tax (VAT) specified in point 4.

3. We rent a flat and have to pay electricity charges over and above this rent, which includes the cost of central heating, though. If we were to buy a house or flat in the town I live in, we'd end up paying marginally less than this in total mortgage repayments, insurance, heating, etc.


Is anyone else prepared to take the plunge?

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I took early retirement (as a university professor in the UK) in 1993 at the age of 51, when I was earning an annual salary of around 32,000 pounds a year. I continued working for the university as a part-time consultant (they found they they could not entirely do without me) up until 2001 when my contract with the university finally ended.

Interestingly, the pension that I received in combination with the part-time consultancy fees resulted in a higher net income: net, not gross, because I was able to register as a self-employed consultant and therefore able to offset expenses such as running a car, maintaining a home office, purchase of a computer, etc against income tax. I began by doing 100 days consultancy work per year for the university, gradually reducing this figure to 40 days. Consequently, I spent far less time travelling to and from work. In fact, I was able to work mainly from home.

I now run a small business in partnership with my wife and daughter. Contrary to popular belief, most people in small business partnerships don't earn as much as the average teacher, but a small business partnership offers a better life: slightly precarious at times, but blissfully free of megalomaniac senior managers peering over your shoulder and government bodies telling you what you should do.

Retirement is generally better: no mortage (paid off with part of the tax-free lump sum that I received on retirement), an annual tax-free fuel allowance of 200 pounds for heating my home in the winter, free health prescriptions, cheaper railway tickets, reduced green fees at local golf clubs, reduced fees for my ski pass in Austria...

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I recently found a website, which I now have "mislaid" which set out the salaries for teachers in the US. I was quite appalled to see by how much the salaries varied from state to state - sometimes by as much as 20% for the same level job.

Thank goodness for our strong union here! It is difficult to make realistic comparisons, but I can safely say that of the many teachers I know in Britain, most seem to be living at a similar level to corresponding teachers in Australia. It's difficult to talk about rent, mortgages, heating etc because it's all so variable eg my son in Qld has a negligible heating bill compared with me in Tasmania, and petrol is much cheaper there than here because of differing state taxes. However, houses here are very much cheaper, so it's quite complex, unless you do the "Big Mac" comparison!! - what does a BIg Mac cost in your country?

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The high cost of housing in the UK reduces one's disposable income considerably. Most peope buy rather than rent. Private landlords charge outrageous prices in big cities, and council housing (which is generally affordable) is difficult to get. A modest 3-bedroom house with a small garden in the area where I live costs around 250,000 to 300,000 pounds. A "starter" house or flat costs around 150,000 pounds. A mortgage of 800-1000 pounds per month is not unusual here. Renting a small house would cost about the same.

My yardstick is the cost of a pint of beer: around 2.30 pounds in my local pub.

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