Press release

Teaching is now a top choice for high flying graduates

New research, released from the Teaching Agency (TA) today, reveals that perceptions of teaching are changing for the better.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government

New research, released from the Teaching Agency (TA) today, reveals that perceptions of teaching are changing for the better. 81% of final year students view the occupation as one which has real status and kudos and 72% of students felt that their friends and family would react positively if they decided to enter the profession, up six per cent from 2010.

According to the UK Graduate Careers Survey, conducted by High Fliers Research, schools and universities have moved up to become the second most popular type of employer, with nine per cent of graduates saying they wanted to work in this area, beaten only by advertising, PR or marketing at 11%. An additional piece of research showed that well over half of final year students (58%) have considered applying for teaching, up five per cent on 2010, with students increasingly recognising it as a career for people with drive (67%) and a great option for the long term (72%).

Despite increased recognition of the rewarding career teaching provides, misconceptions still persist when it comes to the earning potential of teachers. In fact, one in three students are being deterred from a career in teaching because of inaccurate salary perceptions, with four in five (82%) of final year university students underestimating the figure, by as much as £4000.

Whilst over a quarter of students thought the starting salary for a teacher in the capital was £23,000, the reality is that these teachers can now expect to earn £27,000 in Inner London. Similarly, most students (61%) thought teachers outside London earned £19,000 or less, while in reality salaries are more likely to be £21,588. The average starting salary for a UK teacher is £23, 010 (1), a figure that now compares favourably with other graduate jobs which range from £17,720 to £23,335 (2).

The research also revealed that the majority of students, 64%, do not realise the long term earning potential of teachers. Teachers are seeing their salaries rise by an average of around 30% after their first four years in the job. Experienced primary and secondary teachers, achieving the appropriate standards, can earn up to £64,000 (in London) and up to £56,000 (in other parts of the UK). Students may also be surprised to learn that the average salary for headteachers is £62,600, rising to £84,600 for secondary headteachers (3) and 700 heads are earning at least £100,000 this year following a rise in average salaries for senior staff members (4).

The TA is calling upon graduates to take a fresh look and reflect upon the modern day realities within this valued profession.

In addition to competitive salaries, the coalition government has introduced a number of financial incentives in the last 12 months such as tax free bursaries of up to £20,000 to attract the recruitment of top graduates to train to teach in maths, physics, chemistry or modern foreign languages.

Lin Hinnigan, chief executive of the Teaching Agency commented:

While it’s heartening to see the positive attributes of teaching being recognised by top graduates, it appears that some graduates are basing important career decisions on inaccurate perceptions. Teaching is increasingly a career for the most able graduates as demonstrated by its pay, benefits and prospects that compare favourably to other graduate professions. I’d urge anyone considering a career in teaching to investigate just how well the profession compares to alternative careers.

Neil Dhanda, who earns £45,000 as Curriculum Team Leader for Modern Foreign Languages at Saint Cecilia’s school, Wandsworth, Church of England School said:

Pay in teaching definitely compares favourably with the private sector. If you are ambitious and take up additional responsibilities, then you can expect increased financial rewards.

Having become head of department within four years, I have first-hand experience of the progression opportunities available within the profession and as such, it’s fair to say that aspirations for moving up the career ladder are wholly realistic and achievable.

I love my job and I think that teaching is a career which I’ll stay in for the rest of my working days; it’s varied, challenging, demanding and rewarding, I think that’s more than many would say about their chosen careers.

To find out more about a career in teaching, please visit get into teaching.

Notes to editors

  • New research on graduates was conducted by High Fliers Research Limited. They carried out in-depth interviews with 16,000 finalists seeking graduate employment from the top 30 universities in the UK.

  • In addition the TA commissioned bespoke research from High Fliers about the teaching profession, to find out how many final year students had considered applying to teaching and their perceived benefits of the profession. The exercise involved 1000 final-year students

(1) Data regarding the average starting salary of a teacher is taken from the Department for Education School Workforce census.

(2) What do graduates do? 2011, HECSU.

(3) The AY11/12 Teachers Pay scale, also known as School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2011 and Guidance on School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions.

(4) Department for Education 2012 school workforce statistics.

  • Priority subjects are Physics, Mathematics, Chemistry and Modern Languages.
  • Download the Department for Education Initial Teacher Training (ITT) Implementation Plan.
  • Tax free bursaries of up to £20,000 are also in place, further details are available.
  • The Teaching Agency is responsible for initial teacher training (ITT) in England. It provides a comprehensive programme of support to help graduates become a teacher, providing guidance all the way through the application process.
  • People interested in becoming a teacher should visit get into teaching or contact the Teaching Line 0800 389 2500.

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Updates to this page

Published 31 May 2012