The TES homepage has a large banner saying “I want to Teach”. Fewer people want to be teachers (at least more people are considering leaving the profession), but the Labour party are considering increasing the pay of nurses while leaving teachers’ pay at the current proposed levels.

In teaching, there is a cap on pay increases of 1% up until 2019-20. It should be made clear that not all teachers achieve this 1% increase (due to performance related pay). A similar pay cap is in force for nurses, who are also subject to performance related pay.

The Labour party have committed to increase pay for nurses if they win the general election, who were subject to a similar pay cap.

Why would nurses be in line for a pay increase as part of a manifesto pledge, but not teachers?

The cost of implementing a pay increase for the two professions is likely to be similar, and in general both professions can be considered as passion professions. But the similarities run deep:

Teaching Nursing
Gender 26% of teachers are men, 74% are women 20% of nurses are men, 80% are women
Number of staff 512,000 teachers 675,000 nurses
Average salary £28,660 £25,820

Looking at the figures it is unlikely to be the cost of implementing the policy, why would a party focus on nursing rather than teaching?

The fantastic Tribe by Sebastian Junger proposes that

“Jobs that are directly observable by the public, like construction, tend to be less respected and well paid than jobs that happen behind closed doors.”

Clearly everyone has met many teachers during their lives, and there seems to be no air of mystery about the profession. At parents evening parents sometimes feel free to openly challenge teachers that they are delivering the wrong material, in the wrong way and perhaps not supporting their child.

The reason that teaching is becoming a less compelling profession is perhaps the same reason that teaching will not see pay increase for the foreseeable future. The perception of some is that you don’t need a qualification, Google Classroom allows anyone to be a teacher and a poor general perception of teaching.

This analysis has not mentioned the tedious discussion around teacher holidays. In my experience more teachers are expected to teach extra classes during the holiday, and irrespective of that teachers work during the holiday.

Historically teachers have not been valued, and this is reflected in the current general election campaign. The crucial question has been; why would someone with a Masters degree choose to be a teacher with the starting salary of £19,600, low public respect and glacial career progression. The answer, as TES say, is I want to teach.


StudeApps create EdTech mobile applications and teaching resources, including General election resources on TES.


OECD’s opinion on performance related pay:

Gender of nurses:

Gender of teachers:

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Average nurse salary:,2_IN2_KO3,10.htm