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Stat of the week - The average teacher salary

Looking for a pay rise for teachers during the present recession is a tricky business. Almost as risky as guessing whether the average pay of teachers is going to rise or fall over the next few years.

Average pay is a statistic often quoted by government, not least because it is always higher than starting salaries, a number frequently used by those seeking to make a different point. However, the average pay of teachers (Pounds 32,230, according to the latest available figures, from 2007) is partly affected by the age profile of the profession. There are lots of long-serving teachers, paid on upper pay spine 3, who keep up the average pay level. But, when they retire, to be replaced by NQTs on the lowest pay scales, this has the opposite effect.

The level of teaching and learning responsibility payments has little impact on average pay as the number of such posts has remained relatively constant. Nevertheless, the economic crisis and falling school rolls in secondary schools might reduce the number of discretionary TLR2 allowances.

Primary and secondary teachers have very different average salaries, with secondary teachers earning on average Pounds 3,000 more than their primary colleagues, but nearly Pounds 3,000 less than teachers working in special schools and pupil referral units. In 2007, nearly 45 per cent of secondary teachers earned more than Pounds 35,000, compared with fewer than a quarter of full-time primary teachers. Generally, average salary levels increase with age: women aged 40-44 in primary schools are the exception, earning, on average, less than younger full-time women primary teachers in the 35-39 age bracket. An average primary head earned Pounds 50,000 and a secondary head Pounds 69,000 in 2007.

John Howson is a director of Education Data Surveys, part of TSL Education.

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