How much do we value young, highly qualified people coming into our profession?

At age 16, an unqualified worker can earn £3.79 per hour, and is allowed to work 40 hours per week. This equates to £7883.20 per annum for 2 years, a total of £15766.40.

At age 18, he/she will be able to earn £5.13 per hour for up to 48 hours per week. Let’s assume that they don’t want to take on more hours. Working a 40 hour week, they will earn £21340.80.

From age 20, they will be eligible for £6.50 per hour, or £27040.00 over 2 years.

A total of £64147.20.

They will have paid minimal tax on this as their earnings fall close to the personal tax allowance.

During the six years from 16 to 22, an aspiring teacher will have been furthering their education. To obtain a degree and a teaching qualification, they will have amassed student loans approximating £27000.00 or more.

So, when you start teaching, it has cost you £91147.20 to become a teacher.

What reward can you expect for this?

An NQT can expect to start work on £21804.00 per annum, clearly much more than an unqualified worker. However, they will pay 20% tax on a chunk of this, meaning that they will be no more than £9444.00 per year better off. They will also pay higher National Insurance, and will be charged a % of their student loan (which is gathering interest).

The best estimate that can be made from these figures is that it will be AT LEAST TEN YEARS before the cost of becoming a teacher makes it financially viable for those who choose to do so.

Yes, teachers may be promoted- but our unqualified teenager will probably receive free on-the-job training and have increased their income as well.

Yes, on the surface we have longer holidays- but the average number of hours per week that teachers work is 50 hours, 10 hours more than I have quoted for my unqualified teenager. In other words, teachers work the equivalent of 39 weeks per annum, plus 39 x 10 hours = 390 extra hours, or nearly 10 weeks, making a total of 49 weeks that a teacher actually works. If our minimum wage earner worked 50 hour weeks, they would work their 1840 annual hours in 37 weeks, and have a whopping 15 weeks holiday!! They have their social time spread out over the year, but in actual fact have considerably more time ‘off’ and ALWAYS WILL.

Do we really want students at school to be directed towards a profession which is held in such low esteem that the teacher must be 32 years old before they actually see a reward financially for their work? A profession for which they will sacrifice their social life in order to achieve the standards we try to uphold, and one where they are likely to suffer abuse from parents and students alike? I leave the question for teachers to consider.