DON’T forget about the price tag…

Or rather, let’s not forget the real cost, costs and value of teaching and teachers.

Earlier today I posted this. It was an April Fool. (Gotcha!)

But it did have a serious underlying message, and when I quoted the Secret DoS in the original post, I wasn’t being flippant (as opposed to when I quoted Jessie J…).

Let’s hear from the Secret DoS again, because the point is well made:

I hate the exploitation. I work with people who have degrees, postgraduate degrees and years of experience in many different contexts. Some of them have families and mortgages. Some of them are employed on zero hours contracts ā€“ which means we pay them for the hours we get them to teach, but there our relationship ends. We have no commitment to them, we pay them a starting salary that is marginally higher than what an unqualified school teacher earns in the UK and we never increase this.

We are not the most exploitative company that exists. I am expected to demand high from these teachers, but understand the truth that there is to be found in the maxim about paying peanuts and getting monkeys. Truth be told, I manage a team of very committed monkeys for the most part, but this is a tribute to them because they are committed, once again, in spite of the context in which they work.

Essentially, the problem is that many schools are paying peanuts and NOT getting monkeys. They’re getting dedicated, interested, experienced language professionals who are at real risk of stagnating, becoming very jaded or simply deserting the profession altogether because of the massive gap between the level of expertise they’re expected to hold and the remuneration they can expect for exercising it.

And that is monkey business.

@sandymillin for #eltpics

@sandymillin for #eltpics


About Laura Patsko

Teacher trainer, language learner, language teacher, linguist, researcher. Not necessarily in that order.


  1. Claire Brennock

    Given the fact that most April fools are easily spotted, this is one of my favourites. Why couldn’t I spot it? Well I know you are dedicated, passionate and if you did have savings maybe you would offer up your services to just focus on your creativity. As would I… Funny old people us teachers!

    • Thanks Claire. I agree with volunteering for those who really need support/guidance/education and simply cannot afford to pay for it, but I do think the private sector should be fairer and more competitive considering the amount of dedication and professionalism they expect – and often get. (I’m not foolish enough to suggest, even on April 1st, that every teacher is driven, motivated, skilful, professional and responsible. As in all fields, there will always be people who work hard, people who don’t, people who work harder still and so on, with varying degrees of success!)

      It’s also worth mentioning here that I’m fortunate enough to work in a very good school which does pay for things which other places I’ve worked at don’t, such as a great range of CPD opportunities, including workshops, conferences, peer observations and so on. But the industry as a whole remains very guilty, in my view, of the “well, everyone does it” mentality which allows teachers to go on developing themselves and their institutions to great profit (in both financial and educational senses) for a very long time before the question of remuneration is even tentatively raised, let alone adequately addressed! And over time, this inevitably leads to the ends I mentioned earlier: a workforce of jaded/burnt out teachers (or those who simply leave the field), who in turn are replaced so swiftly by newly-qualified and/or naive new teachers that the aforementioned unhappy ones are made out to be unreasonable for ‘complaining’ that they just don’t get paid enough for everything they’re asked/expected to do.

      It always feels so crude to talk about money like this, but the fact remains that a job is a job, a career is a career, and even one you really love simply for its own sake should be paid according to the skills required to do it well, not according to the lowest bar the industry can get away with.

  2. gemmalunn

    Oh dammit! The only April fools I fell for this year!

  3. I salute you for being so dedicated and honest in your profession. I wish I could coronate you as the queen of ESL/ELT world.

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