11th November 2005 at 00:00
Main text: Steven Hastings

Photographs: Getty

Additional research:Sarah Jenkins

Next week: Visual impairment

The teaching profession has its fair share of moonlighters, from cash-strapped NQTs pulling pints, to experienced heads touting for consultancy. Teachers often claim their job is all-consuming, yet thousands still find time to earn extra money. Is it a case of "needs must" and paying the mortgage, or just a desire to extend professional horizons? More importantly, if you do want to top up your salary, how do you go about it?

Common practice?

In 2002, the National Office of Statistics released figures suggesting that 84,000 teachers, around one in five of the workforce, had a second source of income. But these numbers don't tell the whole story. On the one hand, they include many part-time teachers who, not unreasonably, fill up the rest of their week with a second job, a very different thing from squeezing in extra work around the commitment of a full-time post. On the other hand, the figures don't include those who do a bit of work "on the side". Many teachers who offer private tuition, for example, work on a cash-in-hand basis and prefer not to inform the tax authorities.

Bills, frills and thrills

Everyone knows that teachers have a heavy workload, so why are so many keen to take on extra tasks? Money, of course, is the prime motivation. A young single teacher in the south-east, with high living costs and a hefty student loan to pay off, will probably find themselves short of disposable income. A Saturday morning job may be the only way to ensure there's anything left after paying the rent and bills. The same goes for an older person, slightly higher up the pay scale but with a mortgage and a family to support.

Even those more comfortably off aren't immune to the lure of a little sideline. "The extra income isn't part of the family budget," explains one deputy head who also writes books and newspaper articles. "I can spend it on a nice holiday and still have a clear conscience."

But it isn't just about the money. Writing a textbook, for example, may represent the fulfilment of a personal ambition. And a survey of US teachers carried out at Western Carolina university found that many regular moonlighters simply enjoyed having a second job, and said it was a good means of escaping stress. Working behind a bar or in a shop, it seems, offers a chance to forget about the day job in a way that isn't always possible at home. And signing off from a weekly three-hour shift brings a satisfying sense of "job done", which teachers are often denied by the never-ending rounds of planning and marking.

Sticking to the scripts

Working as an examiner can make you a better teacher, by giving you an insight into what's expected of your own pupils. It also looks good on your CV. But the real reason why 50,000 teachers spend their summer marking is simple: the extra cash. Exam boards know this, which is why the AQA website entices teachers by promising they will earn "enough for a holiday".

Whether that turns out to be a month in Mauritius or a weekend in Wales depends on how many scripts you're prepared to mark. One English examiner reports raking in up to pound;7,500 a year; 500 English language GCSE scripts at pound;3 each will generate pound;1,500 before tax. A variety of factors comes into play: how many scripts are available, how quickly you mark and, not least, your stomach for the fight at the end of a long school year.

The fee per script, which varies widely from subject to subject, isn't important. What matters is the amount you can earn per hour, so you need to keep track of how long it takes you to do the marking. Many teachers say you should not be put off if your first year's marking offers a poor return; stay with it and you'll get quicker.

Core subjects offer the best opportunities for earning large sums, simply because there are huge numbers of candidates. If you're willing to take on more than the standard number of scripts, the extra ones are paid at up to double the normal rate. When exam boards get panicky, they even invite people to mark on-site at their headquarters, providing travel expenses, food and overnight accommodation, as well as aday-rate and a higher fee per script.

On your marks

Examiner shortages are well publicised in the press, but the reality is that some areas are oversubscribed. If you want to mark key stage 2 Sats, for example, where you could earn pound;800, you'll need to join a waiting list, as there is less work to go round. You could wait for years at Edexcel, as they have "an extensive list of reserve teachers". When vacancies do come up, they are usually advertised on the boards' websites.

You will need a day out of school to attend a "standardising meeting", where the mark scheme is explained to you, so you'll also need your head's approval. You don't need to mark the same syllabus that you teach, nor do you need to work for the same exam board your school uses, although it makes life easier if you do. NQTs are not eligible to become examiners until they have 12 months' experience, but otherwise the boards have a little leeway in whom they appoint. For example, if you're an experienced primary teacher with good subject knowledge, you could still be considered to mark GCSE.

The best time to register your interest is in the autumn, but if there's a shortage then your application will be welcome right up until June. There's nothing to stop you working for more than one examining body, though be careful not to take on too much. The boards say that if it all gets too much, you can return your unmarked scripts so they can be sent to someone else, but every year a handful of examiners "flip" and their scripts have to be retrieved from landfill sites or canals.

Full-time in moderation

If your summer break is sacrosanct, then moderating coursework at least has the advantage of being done by May. The financial rewards are similar to examining, though there tend to be fewer vacancies. Checking that coursework has been properly assessed is marginally less mind-numbing than wading through script after script. On the downside, it involves a great deal of form-filling and administration.

Whether you're a moderator or examiner, after a few years' experience, and provided that your marking has been up to scratch (your work gets graded by the exam board), you can apply to become a "team leader", supervising a small group of examiners or moderators. The pay is better, and if you get a taste for it there is a clearly defined career structure, with some teachers even switching to working full-time for exam boards.

Just can't get enough

Another reason why teachers moonlight is simply that the opportunities are so plentiful. Teaching skills are always in demand, and private tuition in particular is booming, as middle-class parents seek to give their children an edge. With tutors commanding between pound;15 and pound;40 an hour, two or three private pupils a week amounts to a handy extra income over the course of a year. Many teachers find one-to-one work more rewarding, financially and professionally, than taking on extra responsibilities at school, and there are agencies to help you find work. (For more details see The Issue, May 13, 2005.) Some teachers maximise their time-to-earnings ratio by holding private classes for small groups of pupils studying the same syllabus. If tutoring doesn't appeal, there is the option of teaching in the evenings at an adult education centre. And if term-time seems too hectic to even consider extra teaching, you could think about signing up as a tutor at one of the growing number of institutions that specialise in Easter "cramming" courses. The pay is usually good, and it can be a stimulating environment in which to work. Or, if you're qualified to teach English as a foreign language, there's the possibility of a working holiday during the summer. And finally, if you teach at an independent school with shorter terms, there's even the option of sneaking in a week's supply teaching in a maintained school once your own term finishes.

The land of moonlighting opportunity

It's well known that teachers in the developing world have to work in paddy fields or factories to supplement their low pay. But, staggeringly, the situation in the world's richest nation isn't so different. Teachers'

salaries in the United States lag far behind those of doctors, lawyers and most corporate workers, and moonlighting is rife. Nor is it just a case of teaching at summer school; many US teachers do regular shifts in factories or fields.

The Texas State Teacher Association conducts a biennial survey called "Texas Teachers, Moonlighting and Morale". The latest report, in 2004, found that 35 per cent of teachers in the state had a second job, up from 26 per cent in 2002. They were working an average of 10 hours a week, on top of their full-time posts, allowing them to boost their income by an average of almost $5,000 (pound;2,858) a year, effectively a 15 per cent top-up to their salary. But three-quarters of those doing second jobs said it had a negative impact on their teaching.

The issue of moonlighting in the US gained plenty of publicity earlier this year, when a New York teacher who had claimed to be sick was spotted on TV by his students, starring in a professional wrestling extravaganza.

Fighting fire, crime and the enemy

Most teachers earn extra money in a way that's related to their day-job: music teachers offering singing lessons, modern linguists running French classes or PE staff working in a gym at the weekend. But there are some jobs-on-the-side that need have no connection whatsoever to your life in the classroom. Full-time teachers can serve with the Territorial Army (up to pound;1,500 annual allowance plus day rate) or as retained firemen (up to pound;2,500 a year and pound;11 an hour), or even as local councillors (around pound;8,000 a year). If the money isn't a concern, you could also consider going on the beat as a special constable or serving as a magistrate; these jobs don't pay as such, but the expense allowances are generous.

Bringing the game into disrepute

In some countries, such as China, teachers found to be involved in another form of employment, even if it is writing a textbook, are banned from teaching for life. Even here in the UK, employment contracts sometimes stipulate that you can't take on other paid work, so it's probably best to seek your headteacher's approval before committing to anything. In reality, few heads are going to stop you from becoming an examiner, especially if you make the case for it being a form of professional development.

But working in a pub, especially one which might be frequented by parents or students, could be regarded as projecting the wrong image. Indeed, any work which sends out the message that the school isn't paying you enough may be frowned upon. Some headteachers are even sniffy about staff offering private tuition to their own pupils, feeling it compromises their professional standing. And if your second line of work in any way interferes with your teaching - if you turn up tired after your band has played a late-night gig, for example - then you're on shaky ground.

While pulling pints or washing dishes may teeter on the brink of professional indignity, some jobs topple clean over the edge. There have been cases of teachers doubling as topless models, lap dancers, pirate DJs and drug dealers. In the summer of 2000, it was revealed that a prostitute earning pound;2,000 a week was working by day as a geography teacher in Nottingham.

Staffroom scribes

Writing textbooks, study aids or resource materials is another possible source of income, but it's a difficult market to break into and not always as lucrative as you might think. You will need to approach publishers directly with your ideas and convince them of two things: that you're capable of coming up with the goods, and that the goods are going to sell.

In particular, you need to research existing books in the same field, consider the demands of the syllabus, and be sure there's a gap in the market.

Rewards vary enormously. Be wary of publishers who only offer a commission on sales; many educational books sell in their hundreds rather than their thousands. More reputable publishers pay an advance as well as royalties of between 5 per cent and 10 per cent. If you do write a definitive textbook, or a study guide to a perennial set text, then royalty cheques could drop through the letterbox with satisfying regularity. And having a textbook bearing your name is a nice boost to your professional reputation.

If a book doesn't appeal, you could try writing for newspapers. The TES and the education sections of the national dailies all use first-hand accounts written by teachers. The important thing, as ever, is to do your research and make sure you pitch your idea with a particular slot in mind. Editors will often advise: don't give up the day job!

If you do fancy yourself as a wordsmith, you might take Dr Martin Stephen, high master of St Paul's school in London, as your role model. As well as a teaching career that's led to the top job at a high-flying independent secondary school for boys, he's also found time to pen 16 academic books and four bestselling crime thrillers. Anthony Seldon, currently head of Brighton college but moving to Wellington college in January, wrote a biography of Tony Blair in 2004 which has made him something of a pundit.

A final word of warning

The unions are sympathetic towards those teachers whose financial situation makes a second job a necessity. "If a pay system is delivering, then people are much less likely to seek extra forms of income," says the NUT's general secretary, Steve Sinnott. But unless the circumstances are exceptional, the union warns its members against adding to an already heavy workload, for both personal and professional reasons.

"Taking on work over and above a full-time teaching commitment can adversely affect your teaching, and will also threaten your work-life balance,"says Mr Sinnott.


Examination Boards

* The National Assessment Agency (NAA) is the best starting point for information about becoming an examiner:

* Edexcel:

* Assessment and Qualifications Alliance:

* Oxford, Cambridge and RSA Examinations (OCR):

* Scottish Qualifications Authority:

* Welsh Joint Education Committee:

Other sites

* Territorial Army:

* Retained Firefighters Union:

* Special Constabulary:

* Magistrates Association:

Did you know?

* If you are a primary teacher with good subject knowledge you may be considered for GCSE marking

* A secondary teacher can typically earn pound;1,200 before tax from marking exam scripts over the summer. Core subject examiners can make pound;7,500 a year

* Fees vary widely, from pound;10 per script to just pound;2, depending on the subject

* There have been cases of teachers moonlighting as bar staff, lap dancers, pirate DJs and even prostitutes

* Full-time teachers who fancy a change of scene from the classroom can earn up to pound;1,500 a year in the Territorial Army, pound;2,500 as retained firemen, or around pound;8,000as councillors

Subscribe to get access to the content on this page.

If you are already a Tes/ Tes Scotland subscriber please log in with your username or email address to get full access to our back issues, CPD library and membership plus page.

Not a subscriber? Find out more about our subscription offers.
Subscribe now
Existing subscriber?
Enter subscription number


The guide by your side – ensuring you are always up to date with the latest in education.

Get Tes magazine online and delivered to your door. Stay up to date with the latest research, teacher innovation and insight, plus classroom tips and techniques with a Tes magazine subscription.
With a Tes magazine subscription you get exclusive access to our CPD library. Including our New Teachers’ special for NQTS, Ed Tech, How to Get a Job, Trip Planner, Ed Biz Special and all Tes back issues.

Subscribe now