DfE recruitment ad referred to Advertising Standards

Janet Downs's picture
The Department for Education has just launched an advert to encourage teacher recruitment. It shows young teachers being inspirational and describing ways in which teachers make a difference. It ends with a claim that ‘great teachers’ can earn up to £65k a year.

The claim was met with snorts of derision on Twitter. And Martin Powell-Davies, an executive member of the NUT teaching union, has lodged a formal complaint with the Advertising Standards Authority pointing out that £65k is only available to teachers at the top of the leading practitioners' pay range in Inner London.

The DfE stood by the advert. A spokesperson told TES ‘hundreds’ of teachers earned this amount.

But there are 454,900 full-time equivalent (FTE) teachers in state-funded schools in England (November 2014 figures). The 'hundreds', then, are a tiny proportion of the workforce.

The average salary for all teachers remained unchanged between 2013 and 2014 according to Government data. This also revealed the average salary for all teachers (full and part-time classroom including leadership group teachers) in service in November 2014 was £37,400.

Laura McInerney, Schools Week editor, tweeted that the ASA had censured a similar advert in 2008. She linked to a Telegraph article which described how claims made by the Training and Development Agency for Schools had misled viewers.

The DfE advert doesn’t make it clear that teachers would have to be a leadership group teacher to earn up to £65k. It says £65k is available to a ‘great teacher’. This implies any teacher earning less than this isn’t a great teacher.

That implication will have seriously annoyed 454,000+ teachers whose earnings, according to the advert, reflect their status as 'not great teachers'.

But if asked what they ‘make’, then this video from Taylor Mali, Teaching Channel, will give teachers their answer.

CORRECTION 30 October 12.15. The article originally said, '£65k is only available to teachers at the top of the leadership group pay range'. This was incorrect. It should have read 'only available to teachers at the top of the leading practitioners' pay range in Inner London.' Teacher pay scales are here. I have emphasised this in bold to make it clear. Thanks to Barry Wise for pointing this out.

UPDATE 20 November. Schools Week reports the ASA is to launch a formal investigation into the advertisement.

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Barry Wise's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 14:38


It is wrong to say that a salary of £65k is only available to teachers at the top of the leadership group pay range.

The top of the leadership group pay range is £107k outside of London; £114K in Inner London. Way more.

£65k is though is within the Leading Practitioner (what used to be advanced skills teachers) pay range for Inner London (max: £65,978).


David Barry's picture
Thu, 29/10/2015 - 17:30

By coincidence the Perry Barr Academy in Birmingham was in the news on the 14 July 2015, as reported by the Birmingham Mail, for having the highest teacher salaries in Birmingham.

They reproduced this interesting table.


Prime Minister £142,000
Airline pilots £78,482
Doctors £70,646
MPs £66,396
Senior police £58,727
Perry Beeches The Academy Teacher £54,999
Dentists £53,567
Health managers £46,629
Barristers & Judges £45,571
Solicitors £44,787
Police officers £39,346
Teachers £32,547
Midwives £30,020
Firefighters £28,183
Social workers £28,182
Nurses £26,158
Window cleaners £12,561
Waiters & Waitresses £7,654
Lollipop ladies £3,187"

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 30/10/2015 - 12:19

Thanks, Barry. I'll correct the wording.

Barry Wise's picture
Fri, 30/10/2015 - 13:06


According to this FoI response from March this year:

Around 15,000 teachers including leadership and classroom grades earn more than £65,000.


Our latest published statistics (from November 2013) show that there are 12,600 full- and part-time, regular, qualified classroom-grade teachers and leading practitioners (across all publicly funded schools in England) earning a full-time equivalent salary of £50,000 or higher.


More than I would have thought. And a cheering note to end the half term break on....

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 30/10/2015 - 14:29

Barry - that leaves over 400,000 teachers earning less than £65k. Far less, in fact. The latest Government data says:

'The average salary for all teachers (full and part-time classroom and leadership group teachers) in service in November 2014 was £37,400,which is the same as in 2013.'

£37,400 is quite a way from £65k. But you have to be a 'great teacher' to get that, according to the DfE. This implies, as I said above, that if a teacher isn't earning £65k they are not 'great'.

Not a particularly cheering note for the majority of teachers returning to school on Monday.

Barry Wise's picture
Fri, 30/10/2015 - 16:49

Youngest and the best paid: Report shows teachers in UK earn one of the highest salaries.
Teachers have the sixth highest salaries in the developing world

Teachers in England are among the best paid in the world, a new report revealed on Friday.

UK teachers earn on average £40 per hour, the sixth highest in the developed world, a report by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) revealed.

The UK has a relatively young academic workforce, with 60 per cent of teachers in the classroom under the age of 40 and 31 per cent of teachers aged 30 and younger, the report also noted.


Janet, it really doesn't do the profession any favours for people to be talking it down all the time.

FJM's picture
Fri, 30/10/2015 - 22:19

How do they arrive at the '£40 per hour' figure? £37,400 divided by £40 gives 935 hours, which, even taking into account the small proportion of part-time teachers, is a very unrealistic estimate of typical hours worked per annum.
I have never complained about my salary as I knew what to expect when I became teacher, but I object to this distorted statistic.

FJM's picture
Fri, 30/10/2015 - 22:21

What on earth is a 'leading practitioner'? Is it what used to be called a Head of Department? This pseudo-business gobbledegook really gets on my nerves.

agov's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 12:07

From a local authority model pay policy -

"Leading Practitioner Roles

Leading Practitioners are posts whose primary purpose is the modelling and leading improvement of teaching skills and they are paid above the maximum of the upper pay range.

Should the school create a Leading Practitioner post?
Some points to be considered:
•Whether a school needs a post that leads on modelling and improving teaching skills?
•How does this post fit in with the current structure?
•Does such a post represent good value for money?
•What impact is expected on the quality of teaching and pupil outcomes?

What would the role entail?
Leading Practitioners must be a qualified teacher and must be an exemplar of teaching skills, lead on the improvement of teaching skills in their school and carry out the professional responsibilities of a teacher other than a head teacher.

They must take a leadership role in developing, implementing and evaluating policies and practice in their workplace that contributes to school improvement. This might include:
•teaching, mentoring and induction of teachers, including trainees and NQT’s
•sharing materials and advising on practice, research and CPD provision
•assessment and impact evaluation including demonstration lessons and classroom observation
•helping teachers who are experiencing difficulties.

In addition schools should consider how much of their time will be spent teaching their own classes and how much working directly with colleagues, will the post holder work across the school or within a particular department or phase and will there be any element of outreach work?

Appointing to Leading Practitioner roles
There are no national criteria for appointments to these roles except that the teachers must have QTS. Schools should consider what skills and experience the post holder will need to enable them to be a leading practitioner at the school. Successful leading practitioners would normally be expected to have a sustained track record of successful performance as a teacher in the upper pay range, to demonstrate excellence in teaching and to have contributed to leading the improvement of teaching skills."

From the NAHT -

"All Advanced Skills Teacher posts and Excellent Teacher posts will cease to exist on 31 August 2013.
The School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document 2013 introduces a new post of ‘leading practitioner’ (LP).

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 09:19

Barry - I'm not talking down the profession. I was a teacher for 20 years and I wasn't in it purely for the money. But the question here is whether potential recruits are being misled by a DfE advert which claims they can earn up to £65k if they are a 'great teacher'. The average pay for teachers is, as I keep saying, £37,400.

The article you cited said young teachers are better paid than most teachers in OECD countries: English primary teachers started around £19,600, £900 more than the OECD average of £18,700.

Pay reached around £28,700 after ten year, much higher than the OECD average of almost £23,000, the article said. But it also pointed out that 'in England a teacher's salary at the top of the scale does not increase after 10 years' experience, so it eventually falls behind an OECD average of around £29,500.'

Falling behind after ten years have passed doesn't quite support the sub heading, 'Teachers have the sixth highest salaries in the developing world'.

These figures are, of course, out-of-date. But a top salary of £29,500 for a primary teacher is way behind £65k.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 09:38

FJM - I suspect it refers only to 'teaching time'. That's what's mentioned on the table in OECD Education at a Glance 2013 (page 255 downloadable here). But, stating the obvious, teaching is not just the time when teachers are standing in front of a class (although those organisation who try to impose zero hours contracts on teachers would like to claim it was).

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 09:52

Barry - more up-to-date figures here.

2013 figures for teachers' annual statutory salaries (in US$) are (I presume these pay scales are basic pay scales).

England - all teachers: minimum $30,289 (£19,594.39) maximum $44,269 (£28,638.25)

OECD averages:

primary minimum: minimum $28,854 maximum $45,602
lower secondary: minimum $30,216 maximum $48,177
upper secondary: minimum $31,738 maximum $50,175

Although the starting salaries are above the OECD averages for primary and lower secondary (just), they are below the OECD average for upper secondary. And the top of the scale is lower for all teachers in England. The Independent's article was rather misleading.

And £28,638.25 is even further away from £65k than the average teacher salary of £37,400.

Barry Wise's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 11:12


You seem to have created a rather elaborate straw man here. When I watched the advert I certainly did NOT understand it to be saying that the average salary of teachers would be £65k. In fact, the ad seemed to be saying that £65k salaries were reserved for rare and exceptional ( 'great') teachers. I doubt any sensible person would have been 'misled' into thinking £65k would be the norm.

That said, £65k is an eventually achievable salary aspiration for teachers starting out today, being roughly what a primary headteacher or secondary assistant head can generally expect.

What the ad seemed to focus on were the non-materialistic reasons to teach and added almost as an afterthought that you could earn good money doing it too. The aim, presumably, was to try to attract top graduates into the profession along the Finnish model. That would be a good thing and an end to the recruitment problems many schools are having now would be welcome. Why carp?

As for the idea that saying great teachers can earn £65k somehow implies that anyone not on £65k cannot be great is rubbish. Brilliant scientists can win the Nobel Prize, but that doesn't mean every scientist who isn't a Nobel laureate is a failure or 'not brilliant'.

If any teacher was so self-obsessed as to have that reaction Janet, they should be told "it's not all about YOU!"

Dapplegrey's picture
Tue, 03/11/2015 - 17:36

As these annual wages are for teachers in England, why are they in US dollars?

agov's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 13:02

The advert commences with an actor or teacher saying "What does a good teacher make these days?". After some stuff about what teachers do in school (- all very pleasant and congenial apparently) it gets to the last actor/teacher who says "And if you're wondering what else a good teacher makes, it's probably more than you think". Then it states in writing minimum starting salaries, an amount for training, and "Up to £65k as a great teacher".

Ignoring the diversion about what management might be paid in larger schools, strictly speaking the £65k figure can just be obtained by some classroom teachers. But as this -


says: "The salary may be technically available but only to the very few classroom teachers paid at the very top of the Inner London range of the very infrequently used 'Leading Practitioners Pay Range'". He points out that only 0.6% of teachers are Leading Practitioners and not all of them are at the top of the Inner London Scale.

The advert has nothing to do with management scales, it is about what 'teachers' as featured in the advert "make".

We will see whether he and all the other teachers "angrily" protesting about the advert have their concerns upheld by the ASA.

Janet Downs's picture
Sun, 01/11/2015 - 08:54

Barry - the advert ends with a teacher (actor?) saying, 'And if you want to know what else a teacher makes, it's probably more than you think.' This is follows with a table which says:

£22k to £27k minimum starting salary
Up to £30,000 to train
Up to £65k as a great teacher

The ad doesn't make it clear these 'great teachers' earning £65k are at the top of a particular pay grade and working in Inner London.

Potential recruits might be disappointed to discover the 'Up to 30K to train' is only available to Physics graduates either on a scholarship or are 1st Class/PhD graduates on bursaries to train as Physics teachers. Graduates with 2/2 wanting to train to teach English, D&T, Music, History or RE or in primary schools get nothing.

The BBC reports that bursaries for primary teachers have actually been cut.

The advert is misleading - it's not carping to say so.

Barry Wise's picture
Sun, 01/11/2015 - 10:59


As you say, the advert says up to £65K.

The phrase “up to” clearly signals that the figure that follows is the very top of a pay grade. What’s more, the ad has already set out the £22k -£27K “starting salary”, so no sensible person will be expecting the £65K for a good few years yet!

The figures give the minimum and the maximum for classroom teachers.

But even limiting it to “classroom teachers” is rather unusual, and I would argue unnecessary. Although the distinction between classroom teachers and management/leadership grades can be useful in a school setting, it is not a distinction that we should expect the general public to be aware of. Ordinary people would count assistant headteachers, deputy headteachers and headteachers as teachers. Even ‘executive principals’ are teachers so far as they are concerned.

If part of the purpose of an advertising campaign is to tell people that teachers are no longer the poor relations and that you can earn a salary in teaching comparable to those earned in the medical or legal professions, then why stop at Leading Practititoner grade?

It would have bee more effective (and not at all misleading) to say you could earn up to £200k as an executive head.

What would be misleading, of course, would be to suggest those earning the silly money at the top of the executive principal bracket were all “great teachers”. Some are; some aren’t.

Janet Downs's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 10:00

FJM - according to Barry 'leading practitioners' were those who used to be 'advanced skills teachers'. I'm a bit lost here - I retired when teachers were on Grade 1, Grade 2 etc and the grades were awarded for extra responsibilities. The constant changes of name make my eyes roll (hence my confused wording in the original article).
What really makes my eyes swivel is the tendency for heads to call themselves 'principals' or 'executive principals'. As you say, it reeks of 'pseudo-business gobbledegook'.

Barry Wise's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 10:59

Ironically, the AST grade was set up to appeal to precisely those teachers who were turned off the pseudo-business gobbledegook associated with SLT roles. The point was to give senior and experienced teachers a chance to stay within the classroom (i.e. not going down the management route) while still having some career progression/the chance of earning enough to support families/pay mortgages etc.while passing on the benefits of their skills and experience to others.

FJM's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 21:22

Janet: I have come across a primary school head who was described as the 'Lead Learner'. Whereas we all continue to learn throughout life, I expect most parents wouldn't have the faintest idea about the real role of the LL.

David Barry's picture
Sat, 31/10/2015 - 11:44

This discussion reminds me of this blog post from a couple of years ago...


FJM's picture
Mon, 02/11/2015 - 22:36

Leading practitioners must tell everyone how to do their job and spout the latest bovine faeces. Is that what it means? ;)

agov's picture
Tue, 03/11/2015 - 08:50

I suppose that could be one interpretation. Perhaps that's why schools largely ignore the Leading Practitioner option.

Janet Downs's picture
Tue, 03/11/2015 - 16:47

Perhaps these Leading Practitioners will form part of the brigade of 'elite' teachers being parachuted in to improve schools in challenging areas. But the NAO found informal interventions such as local support were more effective than formal ones.

Guest's picture
Tue, 03/11/2015 - 20:24

Thank you stating the facts about what advert actually references regarding pay.

Janet Downs's picture
Wed, 04/11/2015 - 07:43

Dapplegrey - because the data was from a global chart which had been used to claim English teachers were among the best paid in the world. The pay scales were given in $US to allow comparison. This would have been impossible if the scales were given in different currencies. I did, however, convert the minimum and maximum amounts to sterling.

Janet Downs's picture
Fri, 20/11/2015 - 16:38

UPDATE Schools Week reports that Advertising Standards Authority has launched an investigation into the recruitment advert.

Can anyone confirm that the DfE has added a superimposed rider about bursaries and something else (probably pay - it went by so fast) on its advert? It came on while I was half-watching something on Quest. Perhaps the DfE will claim this rider makes the advert OK. Not sure the ASA would accept this as it was included after the ad first went out.

agov's picture
Sun, 29/11/2015 - 10:42

Here you go -


Can't say if it's new but for about 3 seconds from 0.14 it says "Salaries and bursaries subject to eligibility and location"

Guest's picture
Sun, 29/11/2015 - 13:27

And for those with the time and inclination to engage in spot the differences, here is the original advert (in full) from the TES post on 27 Oct 15:


Janet Downs's picture
Mon, 30/11/2015 - 08:24

Thanks agov and Guest. I also noticed the new advert is shorter. And am I being cynical when I say I noticed the superimposed message about 'Salaries and bursaries...' comes on the page where the subtitles translate Mandarin and that's where viewers' attention would be?

agov's picture
Mon, 30/11/2015 - 13:35

Oh yes, so it is.

Seems they dropped the making engineers and scientists and nurses; changing perspectives; the moderately appealing blonde; the other PE blonde; inert science bloke; skies bluer and broad horizons; future realities. But the 'future' bit has the 'rider' bit. So it isn't new, it's just been moved.

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