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Q I am a Scottish teacher. Can you shed some light on the complexities of a teaching post in England in general and London in particular?

The pay scale in England seems more complicated than in Scotland. We have no knowledge of TLRs (teaching and learning responsibility payments), so job adverts are difficult to understand. Is there a conversion code to enable someone on the Scottish scale to figure out which level of post would be the equivalent in the English system?

A I am not surprised that anyone moving from Scotland finds the system of pay for teachers in England, and Wales, complex. I cannot cover all the various ramifications in this answer; you will need to refer to the teachernet website ( for the minutiae. However, there are four basic pay scales which cover different geographical areas.

Three of the scales cover the London area. The fourth scale covers the rest of England and Wales. These main scales are six points long and new teachers start at point one and progress by annual instalments until they reach point six. Some time later, a teacher may apply to progress on to the upper-pay spine and be assessed at regular intervals until they reach point three, the top of this pay spine.

Then they have a choice of staying where they are, applying for a post either as an advanced skills teacher or an excellent teacher or for a post on the leadership spine. Of course, they could have applied for one of these posts before topping the scale.

Teachers at any point on the main or upper-pay spines may be paid extra for teaching and learning responsibilities. There are two spines which run the opposite way to the main and upper pay spines so TLR2 is lower than TLR1, which still confuses some schools. The amount of a TLR payment is decided by each school as a part of its staffing policy. Where you transfer will depend upon how long you have been teaching and whether or not the position has a TLR attached. Curiously, unlike the main scale, the TLR carries no extra pay for schools in the London area

John Howson is a recruitment analyst and visiting professor of education at Oxford Brookes University.

To ask him a question, email him at

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