Do Scotland’s teachers really deserve more?

bbcteacehr action

Leaving to one side, for the moment, that the Labour/Unions Coalition is using many of the teachers as unwitting tools in their Operation Obvious Eejit campaign against the Scottish Government, is their underlying case for special treatment strong? Recently published research by University of Sussex for the Varkey Foundation offers interesting evidence though it is based on UK-wide data.

  1. How relatively respected (so special) are teachers are compared to other professional occupations?

To measure this, they:

‘asked people to rank 14 occupations in order of how they are respected. These occupations were: primary school teacher; secondary school teacher; head teacher; doctor; nurse; librarian; local government manager; social worker; website designer; police officer; engineer; lawyer; accountant; and management consultant. These occupations were deliberately chosen as graduate (or graduate type) jobs. The occupations were also chosen carefully with respect to how similar or dissimilar the work might be to teaching. By giving respondents many alternatives, we were able to extract a precise ranking of occupations.’


From the above graph, we see that UK teachers are quite well-respected but not especially so. Support among the general population for a unique pay package might be then, modest, regardless of Reporting Scotland finding one or two to gush for them. The apparent resilience of the Scottish government in the face of strike threats may then be well-judged.

  1. How relatively well-paid are teachers compared to those in other countries?
  2. How relatively well-paid are teachers relative to the PISA performance measure?


Readers will know that I am no fan of the PISA rankings but given that they are widely accepted and used by politicians and MSM, their use in this context is at least interesting. The table above is based on salary figures adjusted for ‘purchasing power parity’ and compares those with PISA rankings to produce an index of crudely, ‘value for money.’

So, Chinese teachers are cheap and quite successful (7) thus good value for money while those from Singapore are supposedly the most effective (1) but are also among the more expensive. Teachers from Peru and Brazil are cheap but in terms of results (28, 29), according to PISA, not worth even that! Teachers from the UK are, by these measures, only moderately good value being moderately effective (12) but also quite expensive and thus not really worthy of a special increase?

That UK teachers’ pay correlates quite strongly with pupil performance, based on PISA scores, can be seen in these two scattergraphs, based on actual pay and on estimated pay:


teacherwagespisaSo, both actual pay and what people think they should be paid correlate quite strongly with their PISA performance. All is in harmony in the world of UK education, it seems!

If we accept all of these conditions and, of course, I don’t really, but many others do, UK teachers are paid no less than they deserve.

Don’t get angry with me. My tongue is firmly stuck in my cheek on this.

  1. How well-paid are Scottish teachers (and FE lecturers) compared to those elsewhere in the UK

Regarding EIS members working in colleges, see this, from October 2018:

‘Scottish college lecturers are being paid on average £5,000 more than their peers in England, Tes research has revealed. Average pay in April this year, calculated by Tes, was £35,809 in Scotland, where many have seen their salaries increase significantly following a harmonisation deal with management in the wake of a return to national bargaining. By comparison, average lecturer pay in England was £30,035 in 2017, according to University and College Union calculations based on responses from 166 colleges.

However, regarding EIS members in schools, in January 2018:

‘The Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development found that teachers’ salaries in England were between 83 per cent and 89 per cent of the average salary earned by graduates in all jobs in the UK. In Scotland, teachers earned 82 per cent of the average graduate salary, regardless of the type of school that they worked in.’

  1. How good is the deal being offered to Scottish teachers compared to that being offered elsewhere in the UK?

Apparently, it’s a better deal so it may make up for the above differential in schools.

‘The Scottish government and councils say the deal they are offering teachers is the most generous for public sector workers in the UK.’

This probably needs more explanation and evidence but I’m stopping here, in my interest and in yours, with this thought on the logic of a strike for some teachers:



7 thoughts on “Do Scotland’s teachers really deserve more?

  1. William Henderson January 13, 2019 / 10:52 am

    Touching the live rail this morning, eh,John?

    Lots of food for thought in there. Thanks.


  2. Contrary January 13, 2019 / 11:07 am

    ‘Respected’ is, of course, very subjective. In the uk I tend to find people respect the salary itself, not the profession or the work that’s done – so if you are paid loads you are respected automatically even if your job is one of the made up gap-fillers of no practical use. You know the ones, you can always tell when you get a barely-comprehensible email filled with made-up words and no sentence structure, someone’s just keeping themself in a, very likely high paid, job for doing nothing of value. I guess this is neo-Liberalism? It annoys me.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. James Logan January 13, 2019 / 2:19 pm

    They don’t deserve more, they have been offered enough for spending all their lives at school for goodness sake!

    Liked by 1 person

    • rantingoldbagsblog2 January 13, 2019 / 4:56 pm

      What do we have here, James Logan? Let me guess. Another graduate of the school of hard knocks? Another one who has never done a university degree followed by the two years of training needed to be a teacher and has no idea what teachers actually do? The fact that you went to school at some point doesn’t mean you know anything about education or about teaching.


    • Contrary January 13, 2019 / 5:49 pm

      Ranting, I took James’ comment to be tongue in cheek. If not, I think you can blame the media portrayal of the teaching profession – or any undervalued profession for that matter, we all make up the functioning of the whole after all – for any seriousness.

      Anyway, it is the height of bad manners, and is usually counterproductive to any view you may wish to put across, to attack a person’s character – particularly based on one comment – rather than address the comment itself. And it is seriously frowned upon here, so if you could please confine yourself to the subject at hand instead of wild speculation about a persons character, thank you.


      Liked by 1 person

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