The North East of England – what you need to know about teaching in the region

The North East could be the UK’s best-kept secret, with its vast beaches, lively cities and swathes of history and culture. We take a closer look at this charming corner of the country

Tes Editorial

Bamburgh Castle, Northumberland

As well as boasting miles of countryside and long stretches of rugged coastline, the North East of England has a rich industrial heritage and vibrant urban environments. The region is home to 2.6 million people and more than 23,000 teachers.

The North East is made up of four counties: Northumberland, County Durham, the Tees Valley, and Tyne and Wear. It contains three cities – Newcastle, Sunderland and Durham – as well as other large towns such as Middlesbrough, Hartlepool, Darlington and Gateshead.

To get a better idea of what teaching in this region is really like, we gathered some essential facts and spoke to some teachers about their experiences there. 


£38,571 – The average salary of all teachers (the highest outside of London).

17.5 – The average number of pupils per teacher (the lowest outside of inner London).

9.1 per cent – The amount of schools reporting a vacancy or temporarily filled post (slightly below the national average of 11.9 per cent).

8 per cent – The amount of primary teachers leaving the profession (the lowest rate in the country).

9.9 per cent – The amount of secondary teachers leaving the profession (the lowest rate in the country).

22.3 per cent – The amount of teaching staff working part time (slightly below the national average of 25.9 per cent).

Data taken from the Regional, LA and school tables: school workforce census 2017.

Cost of living

£122,870 – The average cost of a house. This figure means the average house price in the North East is almost half the national average.

Data taken from the UK House Price Index 2018.

£20,976 – The average cost of living per household (almost £5,000 less than the UK average and nearly £10,000 less than London).

#3 – Newcastle’s position in the list of UK cities with the most income after household spend.

Data taken from ABC Finance.

What is it like living and working in the North East? 

We asked three teachers what they liked about living and working in the region.

Sammy Wright, head of sixth form at Southmoor Academy, Sunderland:

“I spent 12 years teaching in London before moving to the North East about five years ago.

“The school feels more integral to the community here. The dinner ladies all have their kids in the school and they all know each other, for example. There are networks of families and friendships that are very long-lasting, which sit beneath a lot of other stuff in the school.

“The move has absolutely been the right decision for us. It’s given me a much clearer sense of purpose and mission. 

“On a personal level, I feel like it gave us space. There’s space for us to go out with the kids and we have space in our house. There’s a sense that you can just be, without always rushing somewhere. In London, everything was always thinking about the next thing; you’re in your house but what’s the next house you’re going to get; you’re in your job but what’s the next job you’re going to get?”

Chris Wain, headteacher at Pallister Park Primary, Middlesbrough:

“I came back to Middlesbrough in 1976 to teach and I’ve been here ever since. It’s the best thing that ever happened to me. I’ve loved every minute of my career and there’s not many people who can look back and say that.

“There’s a common purpose among the heads in Middlesbrough. We’ve always worked together collaboratively to do the best for every child. You don’t just see a child in your school as being important, you see every child in the region as being important.

“The people in the North East are really friendly – that’s the problem – you go shopping and you can’t get away from people because they’ll talk about anything.

“It’s a very well-kept secret but we’ve also got beautiful countryside, beaches and excellent facilities for life in general. Not only do you get satisfaction at work but also that nice experience at home.”

Jamie Thom, English teacher at Cramlington Learning Village, Northumberland:

“I trained in the North East but my wife got a job down in London so I spent five years teaching there before I persuaded her to move back to the North East. We’ve been back here now for five years.

“I can’t speak for every school, but here it feels as though work-life balance is better, and there's more professional trust. In the school I taught in down south, there was a lot of monitoring, constant book reviews and learning walks. Here, there seems to be more trust in teachers doing the business in the classroom.

“Another big selling point is the people. They’re warm. Apart from the kids mocking my accent, which happens on a daily basis, I’ve always felt accepted. 

“Our mortgage now, living in the centre of Newcastle, is about a third of the rent we were paying down south.

“And the city is really coming up; there are all sorts of exciting things happening in terms of new theatres, new bars opening. It’s got everything now and, on top of that, you can escape to the country in 10 minutes. Location wise it’s great.”

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