How much will I earn in the independent sector?

30th June 2013 at 01:00

How much will I earn in the independent sector?


Ah, good question! How long is a piece of string? 


Independent schools will pay you as much - or as little - as they want to and can afford to.  And with some laudable exceptions (more about that at the end), most of them do not advertise their pay scales. Not even when you’re applying for a job there. Frustrating, eh?


If the school is a member of one of the Big Gun recognised organisations – HMC  IAPSGSA, SOH – you should expect pay and conditions to be at least as good as in the maintained sector. In smaller schools, this may not be so. 


Most of what I have to say below refers to those schools that are paying at least as much as the state schools.  

Do not forget that there are the smaller, more financially precarious schools, who may pay less because they cannot afford to match state salaries. 


There are three elements, perhaps four, when considering independent pay.


Basic pay scale


Firstly the basic pay scale - if it exists - or at least the basic salary range. What does a NQT get, what does someone get after six years?  For medium to big schools it will normally be a bit more than in state schools. 


Extended pay


Secondly, the extended pay, the equivalent of the post-threshold upper pay scale. Does it exist, how much is it, how hard is it to get it - do you have to jump through hoops? 


For medium to big schools, there will normally be a generous extended pay scale, perhaps going up to nearly £60,000 in London, and there are normally no hoops to jump through so you move onto it automatically, although progression right up to the top may involve some assessment.  This means that an ordinary classroom teacher (by ordinary I mean one with no administrative responsibilities) can earn a nice whack, without going through the aggravation of producing lots of threshold paperwork.


Extra money paid for extra responsibilities


Thirdly, the extra money paid for responsibilities. There’s normally nothing actually called TLR, but people are paid a little bit extra here and a little bit extra there for often quite minor responsibilities. And of course there’s also the big bit extra for established roles.  These extra bits can be quite generous, more so than state school TLRs.


In my school, for example, 70 per cent of staff were earning something on top of their regular salary, either a big chunk for a large responsibility, eg being a head of department or year, or a smaller amount for co-ordinating some aspect of school life. In boarding schools these extra amounts paid can be quite substantial.


Do remember that all this extra money, whether from the basic pay, the extended pay, or the responsibility allowances, will also add to your pension when you retire.


Other financial benefits


Finally, the financial advantages on top. Free lunches and coffee are pretty standard.  In boarding schools, you may get most meals thrown in during term time, and free or subsidised accommodation, which can allow you to rent out your own home.  Subsidised fees for your own children - ranging from 15 to 100 per cent - are another perk.  Schools may also offer free or subsidised health insurance, interest-free loans for buying season tickets or computers and other benefits.


As an example of the very best pay conditions (you won’t get this everywhere by any means), here’s an extract from job details for a post at a top boys’ boarding school in Greater London.


There are XX full-time members of the academic staff, most of whom are required to occupy and reside in a house or flat allocated by the school in XX for the better performance of their duties. Water rates and council tax are paid by the school. The school has its own salary scale with generous additional benefits including private medical insurance. 

Academic staff are eligible for an allowance towards the cost of educating their sons and daughters.

Housing in XXX is expensive and staff work late, so you are given a rent-free house or flat within a few minutes’ walk from your classroom.  A figure for the notional rental value of your property is added to your salary for the purposes of pension calculations; in other words, the fact that you are given a school house is used to enhance your pension.

Housing is allocated by the headteacher. Properties are maintained by the school Works Department. Staff are encouraged to buy their own house elsewhere, either to live in during the holidays or to rent out as a source of additional income.”


One of the exceptions to the ‘silence is golden’ rule about salaries is the Girls’ Day School Trust.  


This is not an advertisement for them, merely a way for you to see some actual salaries paid. Below is an extract from the Girls’ Day School Trust website.

My comment is that GDST underpays its middle and senior leaders, from my experience of London salaries at least.


Teachers' salaries and pay scales 

The GDST recognises and rewards leadership and teaching excellence in its schools and has its own pay and grading structure, and system of career and pay progression, both for teachers and leaders.

GDST pay bands offer attractive salaries and pay progression, when compared with the education sector generally. 

In most cases, new staff will be recruited between the start and mid-points of the pay band for their grade.

Pay progression is based on individual performance. A

ll staff are eligible to move up their pay band to the maximum point, and progression is quicker for higher rated performers.


GDST Pay and conditions


Another school a little more open about its conditions of service is Abingdon:


 Teaching at Abingdon School


But I must emphasise again that although many medium and large schools can be very generous, NOT ALL INDEPENDENT SCHOOLS can afford to be generous with their salaries and perks.  There are smaller, struggling schools which pay less than the state - which is why we regularly see on TES Forums posts from teachers who say that Pay & Conditions in the non-state sector are poor.


So what would you earn in Eton College?


It has been reported in the Press that there are very high levels of remuneration at Eton College.  I have been again today to the website of the Charity Commission, and looked at their most recent financial statement (aka accounts), for the year ending 31 August 2014. They show the following:


The table below shows the number of employees whose emoluments for the year (including taxable benefits in kind but not employer pension costs or employer's national insurance contributions) fell within each band of £10,000 from £60,000 upwards in accordance with the Statement of Recommended Practice.

N.B. I am going cross-eyed with all these figures; there may be an error.  If you are really interested you should check the accounts yourself.

                                                                                                    2014              2013

£60,000 -£69,999 38 45
£70,000 - f79,999 35 31
£80,000 - £89,999 12 15
£90,000- £99,999 20 11
£100,000- £109,999 12 9
£110,000 -£119,999 3 -
£120,000 - £129,999 1 -
£160,000 - £169,999 - 1
£180,000 - £189,999 1 -
£210,000 - £219,999 - 1
£220,000 - £229,999 1 -





The accounts go on to say that there were 182 teaching posts, so there were 59 teachers earning less than £60,000.  Poor things.


You can go to the Charity Commission website and have a look at the financial statement of any independent school that you are interested in that is a registered charity. Whether you can actually make head or tail of the accounts is another matter, of course!  But the piecharts at the top, showing income and expenditure, are pretty clear.  


An overview of the Independent sector

Independent Sector FAQs

Moving from state to independent

Teachers talk about what it's like working in one Indy School

Doing NQT induction in an independent school


Best wishes