Scottish teachers among lowest paid in Europe

Teachers in Scotland face some of the lowest starting salaries. Picture: PA
Teachers in Scotland face some of the lowest starting salaries. Picture: PA
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The starting salaries of teachers across the UK are some of the lowest in Europe, according to a major study.

Analysis by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) found that Scotland and England fall behind other countries such as Portugal, Ireland and Korea, and are below the OECD average for starting pay.

OECD director of education and skills Andreas Schleicher said that, overall, teachers’ salaries are “going backwards in real terms” in Scotland and England.

“Pretty much for the first time in history, the last ten years have not been so great for teachers in terms of getting more pay,” he said.

“Both Scotland and England are actually going backwards.”

This was not the case for most countries, where salaries have gone up in real terms.

Speaking in London, Mr Schleicher said: “What the UK does well, it does have quite flexible pay scales and it does have a lot of incentives.

“If you add all that up, actually teachers are quite wealthy – relative to their colleagues [in other countries] but not relative to workers with similar qualifications.”

The report found the salaries of teachers in England and Scotland are comparatively low at both the start and end of their careers, but when bonuses and allowances are included, they are better remunerated than in most other OECD countries.

After around ten years of experience, salaries “increase considerably”, but this then slows down again so that with the exception of pre-primary teachers in England, salaries at the top of the scale at all levels of education in England and Scotland are below the OECD average.

While the starting salary for a primary school teacher was given as £27,768 in England and £27,576 in Scotland, the OECD average was £29,807.

The figures were the same in England and Scotland for a teacher starting secondary school while the OECD average was £31,013.

Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers’ union the NASUWT, said: “The report confirms the problems the NASUWT has highlighted consistently regarding teachers’ pay.

“Starting salaries are 20 per cent lower than other graduate professions. At the end of their careers the remuneration does not reflect the years of dedication and commitment.

“It should come as no surprise that low pay, year-on-year pay cuts and excessive workload have resulted in over two-thirds of teachers having seriously considered leaving the profession, and one in ten of newly qualified teachers say they will be leaving within 12 months.”