Complaint about ‘misleading’ £65k salary claim in teacher recruitment advert received, watchdog confirms

A ‘misleading’ claim that teachers can earn up to £65,000 a year in a government recruitment advert has prompted a complaint to the Advertising Standards Authority (ASA).

The watchdog has confirmed it is processing at least one complaint about the Department for Education’s advert, which was launched online yesterday and will air during prime time programmes such as The Jonathan Ross Show and Gogglebox over the next few weeks.

The complaint was submitted by National Union of Teachers executive member Martin Powell-Davies and relates to text at the end of the advert which reads “Up to £65k as a great teacher”.

Although government teacher payscale figures show that it is possible for leading practitioners to earn up to £65,978 in inner London, Mr Powell-Davies claimed the advert was “deliberately misleading” because such a “small proportion” of teachers actually earned that rate.

He told Schools Week: “The DfE is clearly deliberately ignoring the real issue, that we are facing a growing crisis of teacher recruitment and morale.

“Instead they have spent millions of pounds on an advert which is clearly deliberately misleading, because the proportion of teachers who actually earn £65,000 a year is absolutely miniscule.”

The ASA does not automatically launch investigations in response to complaints, which are instead assessed “carefully to establish whether there are grounds for further action”.

The watchdog said that it closed “many” cases after informing complainants that there were no grounds for investigation based on the concerns raised and assessment against the advertising code.

A spokesperson said: “If we consider that the complainant has raised a valid point and that the ad could potentially break the rules, we will contact the advertiser and ask for their comments. An advertiser may, at that stage, be able to provide evidence to immediately back up its claim and satisfy us that the rules haven’t been broken.

“In other instances, the advertiser may agree to amend or withdraw its ad without the need for a formal investigation. In those instances we consider the matter ‘informally resolved’ and close the case.”

He said if the advertiser disagreed with the complaint and wanted to defend itself, a formal investigation may be launched, operating a ‘reverse burden of proof’ principle which places the onus on the advertiser to prove its claims rather than us disproving them.

Martin Powell-Davies
Martin Powell Davies

A DfE spokesperson said: “Teachers have the potential to earn up to £65k and hundreds do – that excludes those in leadership roles who can earn more.

“Teachers play a vital role in raising standards and ensuring all pupils can reach their full potential. That is why we have given all heads much greater flexibility to set staff pay and reward their best teachers with a pay rise.”


The wording of the complaint submitted to the ASA

The advert is deliberately misleading as it focuses on the salary that teachers might expect to earn through its #teachersmake hashtag. It claims that a teacher may make ‘up to £65k as a great teacher’. In fact:

1) That amount is only available to a very few teachers in Inner London paid at the top of the Leading Practitioners pay range. It is not available across the whole of England and Wales. Most ‘great teachers’ would only be paid on the Main or Upper Pay ranges.

2) The Government’s own figures (see table 7a in…/school-workforce-in-england…) shows that only 0.6% of teachers are paid on the LP pay range and, given that this range starts at as low as £38,598 then only a small proportion of this small proportion of teachers receives a salary anywhere near £65k.

Given that the DfE is fully aware from its own data that the proportion of teachers who might expect to earn this sum is extremely small, this advertisement is creating a deliberately false impression of what ‘#teachersmake’ and should be withdrawn from circulation.


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  1. Grossly misleading. More to the point, if existing teachers were treated with greater respect and care for their work life balance, there wouldn’t be huge numbers of brilliant teachers leaving in their droves, nor the need to conduct large recruitment campaigns. Having worked 65+ hour weeks I wouldn’t go back into my classroom teacher post even if they offered me £130k!!

  2. Just another example of how teachers are not truly valued as educators for the nations future.
    I am incensed by the advert and the comment that ‘great teachers’ earn this amount. How many teachers in Britain fall below this threshold? The DfE clearly don’ think they are great. The figure is 99.4%.
    I am a school leader and could only dream about that figure.
    Dream on if you are thinking of making your future in education and earning this amount.
    Absolute disgrace.

  3. I would like the names of the people who earn this figure. I don’t believe they exist. Prove it Nicky Morgan, I want to see a photograph. If you are going to pluck figures out of the air, why not get some 85K a year teachers, or even 300k a year teachers in your next add? Nicky’s imaginary friends …

    Great teachers (and I know lots of them) earn half that figure if they are lucky. If you want to do something about teacher recruitment (you really need to) do something about workload, and stop wasting money on daft ads that irritate us!

  4. Also, look at the figures of people that train just to take the 30K (tax payers money) and then don’t even intend to be teachers because they realise there is no work life balance because of the outrageous demands that are put on teachers. Nicky Morgan you need to wake up and teach a full year in a school as a classroom teacher and see for yourself that what you are really doing to the future of children’s education in this country.

  5. Teachers get paid far too much for very little work and shouldn’t be earning figures even anywhere near 40k. Teachers should also have to buy their pensions privately like everyone in the private sector; who make a genuine and positive contribution to the economy.

    • I am a teacher, love my 12-13 weeks off each year and only working until 3pm during term times. I drive home laughing every day at the thought of most other people having to stay at work for another few hours. And when at work don’t do much apart from have a laugh with a few people and talk about the football from the weekend. Stuart, you should come and join us, it is so easy and such little work you could do it blindfolded! What do you think, give it a go?

  6. Steve. Students are in school from 8.40 to 3.15. For most of this time you are expected to ‘teach’ an exceptionally-well resourced lesson. If you were asked to do a 1 hour presentation, how much effort would you put into preparing for it? 1 hour? 4 hours? A whole day perhaps? Now imagine doing that 4 or 5 times a day. Where does the ‘prep’ time come from? Oh, then we have to provide MEANINGFUL marking to each of those classes, and there are 30 kids in each. Now imagine having to do a ‘performance management review’ for 30 subordinates EVERY week… how long would THAT take you? Oh, and all of this is just the bare minimum. What about when things don’t work out? You know, when kids don’t behave and need punishing? What about meetings? Believe it or not, we have those too! Amazed? Yes, we often have about 3 or 4 a week! And they have to be conducted before or after the children have arrived/left. I can assure you that for every hour a teacher spends in FRONT of a class, at LEAST an hour is spent elsewhere, if not more. And that is when you have become proficient.

    I have done a number of jobs and teaching, I can assure you, is BY FAR, the hardest. EVEN with the holidays.

  7. Bernette

    The advert is ridiculous and misleading. Many feel teachers role into work at 8:45, leave at 3:30 and have loads of holidays. Now people think that good teachers earn £65,000. This is madness. It won’t take long for those coming into teaching to realise how hard and stressful the profession is and how hard teachers work; and more importantly that there is no chance to earn anywhere near that amount unless you enter into higher management.

  8. Andy

    DfE spokesperson (Powell-Davis) out of touch, misguided and basically full of rubbish as all government puppets.
    Hundreds of teachers earn £65pa, do they really? Just because dept heads etc. tech a class or two a week does a teacher make, they are senior management not teachers – misleading!
    ‘Great Teacher’ this is not a pay grade or Ofsted grade, outstanding is the highest grade they will award. Stop misleading and publishing rubbish, treat people and pay people better in public services and you will not have to make this stuff up.