So you've been offered and accepted your dream NQT position in Lambeth. You already know that teaching is a rewarding career with some great benefits long term, but what does that mean when you’re freshly qualified and starting your new job in one of the most vibrant cities in the world?
What can you earn as your NQT salary, and when you know what your NQT pay will be, what expenses can you expect?
What will your NQT wage amount to after your cost of living?
NQT Salary Explained: How Much Will You Earn?
On the face of it, this is an easy question to answer.
For the 2019/20 period, NQT pay for an inner London district, like Lambeth, is £30,480 before tax.
But let’s have a look at the recent history and likely future, which do point to positive movements in NQT pay and teacher pay in general.
The last Education Secretary, Damian Hinds (2018-2019) and the current one, Gavin Williamson, have both announced significant changes to teacher pay. They have both also made statements in support of teachers signalling improvement in government thinking.
In July 2019, Damian Hinds announced a 2.75% increase and made the following comments:
“Over the last year and a half, I’ve met hundreds of teachers, leaders and staff in schools and have been inspired by their dedication to do the best for the children and young people they work with.”
“Today’s announcement of a 2.75% pay rise for teachers, accepting the STRB’s recommendations in full, means that teachers and heads can receive a pay rise above current rates of inflation and have more money in their pockets.”
“If we want the best people working in our classrooms then it’s right that we ensure their salaries recognise the vital nature of their work and the potentially life changing impact they can have on the lives of our children.”
Since this announcement, Gavin Williamson has taken over as Education Secretary and the Department for Education, DfE, has put forward a number of options which will see NQT pay rise again in 2020 and beyond.
Although several proposals are being considered, it seems that inner London NQT salaries will rise to £32,000 before tax in 2020, and possibly up to £35,500 for NQT teacher salary by 2022.
The pay increases will affect all teaching grades and will likely see some flattening out in incremental pay rises. The three likely options are discussed in more detail here.
So the trend is positive with efforts being made to increase real wages for teachers. Gavin Williamson said, “We want to make teaching attractive to the most talented graduates by recognising the prestige that we as a society place on the profession.” The increased recognition of teachers as keyworkers during the current Coronavirus epidemic would seem to make it more likely that Government will be held to account to keep its promises to those they have relied on during the crisis, including teachers.
The reason given for this rise is to improve recruitment in the teaching profession in general, and covers all levels of teacher pay. Hopefully good news for your future too!
How does the Teacher’s Pension Scheme apply to NQTs?
Remember that you will have to make a contribution to the Teacher’s Pension Scheme. This rate is based on your gross salary, and the current figures can be found here.
For an NQT teacher salary of £30,480, 8.6% of your salary will go towards your pension scheme. (8.6% is the employee contribution for salaries between about £28,000 and £38,000).
But this scheme is considered to be one of the best in the country and is fully funded by the government, so try to think of it as a positive.
In April 2019, Damian Hinds, Education Secretary, had this to say:
“To illustrate how this scheme compares to others available: a teacher who joins the pension scheme at 23 and follows a typical career path could expect to accrue a pensions product worth around £600,000 – that’s £30,000 a year – and the average classroom teacher will benefit from at least £7,000 a year in pension contributions from their employer on top of their salary.”
NQT Salary After Tax and Pension - Your NQT Take Home Pay
So what does all this mean to your actual take home pay? What will you geat as your NQT salary after tax?
There are numerous pay calculators, but using the government calculator, and assuming you pay 8.6% of your gross salary to the pension scheme, your NQT pay of £30,480 actually turns out to be around £22,000 in the hand, a little over £1,800 a month.
This is just an approximation as your particular case may vary. Make sure you have a look at the current rates and include things like student loan repayments if applicable.
In some districts, the government allows you to claim back certain student loan repayments, but. tThis does not apply to any London districts at this time.
Can You Negotiate Your NQT Salary?
Although schools have more autonomy in awarding pay, they are still unlikely to negotiate above the minimum NQT rate.
If you are a mature NQT with strong and relevant experience, or if you teach a subject that is in very short supply, there may be room for negotiation. Similarly, if you are applying to a school in a remote or unpopular area, schools may have the desire to offer a slightly higher starting wage. However, the vast majority of NQT teachers start on the same salary.
Additional Payments to Increase your NQT Salary
There are other ways to increase your NQT pay, but again, these don’t normally apply to NQT teachers.
Teaching and Learning Responsibilities (‘TLR’)
Schools make additional payments for leadership and management responsibilities, termed Teaching and Learning Responsibilities. These could be permanent responsibilities, TLR1 and 2, or one-off projects, TLR3. The National Education Union provides more details, but
TLRs may include items such as:
TLR1 and 2 may be difficult to achieve as an NQT, but if you have something significant to offer, it is worth talking to your school. Even if you are not ready for this in your first year, it is something to think about early on, and can be something you work towards quite quickly.
TLR3s are time limited projects and could be more achievable for NQTs and are worth looking out for, or even suggesting!
Returning to school after this Covid-19 break may well throw up opportunities for short term projects. Maybe to fix issues, or to further investigate online activities for future use in school or to re-establish routines and strategies that have been missed while schools have been closed.
TLR payments are significant. They range from £555 to £2,757 for TLR3; £2,796 to £6,829 for TLR2; and £8,069 to £13,654 for TLR1. They are often advertised with positions and should be included in contractual information.
Special Educational Needs Allowances
If you are qualified to work with students who have special educational needs you can also receive allowances. For 2020, the range of SEN payments go from £2,209 to £4,359 per year.
If you aren’t qualified already, and are interested in this amazing area, maybe you can begin the process of qualification.The NASUWT has published a complete list of changes to teachers pay here.
Other NQT Income
AS you can see, on top of your basic NQT salary, there are quite a few ways to increase your income, and these will only increase as you gain experience and expand your qualifications.
There is always additional work and income available for teachers; however, you should probably think twice about this. Your most important consideration is passing your induction year, and doing that with confidence.
You know that standing in front of a classroom of students, being responsible for them in so many ways is stressful enough, there is no need to place extra burdens on yourself in terms of time commitments elsewhere.
The National Education Union stresses the importance of understanding your workload in your first year, so you can make a success of it. Concentrating on your lessons and your students is what will help you transition into being a happy and confident teacher.
It’s also just as important to have free time to enjoy your new life. Meeting new people, discovering new places to go, and enjoying all that Lambeth has to offer can be exhausting!
What about costs? What can you expect to spend?
What Will Your NQT Living Costs as an NQT be in London?
During your interview, it would be a good idea to enquire about classroom equipment costs. In a recent BBC report citing a NASUWT survey, it was suggested that up to 20% of teachers were buying their own classroom equipment once a week.
As teachers, we all have different ideas for our classrooms, and clearly not everything we desire can be covered by a school. But you should have a budget for basic equipment, or a way to purchase it which does not impact your income. Board markers, paper, tape, pens, and so on, should either be available in a central location in the school, or easily purchased. Often these items are rationed at the beginning of a term, and after they run out, that’s your lot.
Talk to your school about this, these costs can add up and they can also leave a bad taste in your mouth.
More startling, the survey said that nearly half of teachers surveyed had bought essential items like food or clothes during the previous year. Teachers should not have to buy food or clothes for their students. Maybe you can talk to your school if you identify any such students and try to work out something rather than sacrificing your own salary.
Funding is supposed to be getting better, but it seems that the funds won’t work through the system until 2022/23. The Guardian reported that in real terms, funding for this year is likely to be back at 2015 levels before it starts to rise after that.
These issues hopefully won’t be a big deal for you, but they are worth knowing about!
Living in London
London is an amazing city to live and work in, but it can be expensive. Housing can be a challenge, although there are options for you, most of which are discussed at the Teach Lambeth website.
The choices in food, drinks, pubs, clubs, museums, theatre, markets, clothes, transport and almost anything else, are huge. From budget to 5-star and everything in between. You will be able to have a fabulous time sticking to a budget, whatever that may be, especially once you find your feet.
Hopefully this has given you an idea of what your cash situation will be like, and ways to make the most of it.