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Understanding initial teacher training funding and salaries

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Date published 04 December 2023

In this explainer, we explore the bursaries and scholarships available when you start your training, tuition fees, and the different salaries available once you become a qualified teacher.

Applications to start in our September 2024 cohort close on 23 July, we encourage you to apply now to secure your place in your preferred location and subject.

How much funding can I get as a trainee teacher?

You must be eligible for student finance to receive a bursary or scholarship. The only exception to this is if you are training to teach physics or languages. You can’t receive both a bursary and scholarship at the same time, and you can’t receive either if you’re enrolled on a salaried teacher training course.

If you’re looking to teach in secondary schools, you may be eligible for one of the many bursaries or scholarships available from the Department for Education (DfE). There are no bursaries or scholarships available for teaching in primary schools.


A bursary is a tax-free incentive paid directly by the DfE available for certain subjects. They are as follows:

  • £28,000 in chemistry, computing, mathematics and physics.
  • £25,000 in biology, design and technology, geography and languages (including ancient languages).
  • £10,000 in art and design, English, music and religious education.

You may be eligible for a bursary if you have First, 2:1, 2:2, PhD, or master’s degree. Bursaries are tax-free, and you won’t need to pay these them back.


Scholarships are payments offered by independent institutions through the government. They set their own eligibility criteria and you’ll need to apply through the relevant scholarship body. The scholarships available for trainee teachers are:

  • £30,000 in chemistry, computing, mathematics and physics
  • £27,000 in French, German and Spanish

Scholarships are usually available to applicants with a First, 2:1, master’s, or PhD degree, though they may be awarded to a graduate with a 2:2 and significant relevant experience. Just like bursaries, scholarships are tax-free.

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Tuition fees:

This is the most common route and involves taking a student loan during your training, much like you would for a degree. You can apply for government funding to cover the costs of your tuition fees.

Most trainees on Ambition Institute’s course will be on a tuition-fee route. Our programme costs £9,250 for full-time study and £12,500 for part-time study.

You may also decide to apply for a maintenance loan of up to £13,022 for the year to help you with your living costs. You can do this even if you already have a student loan, and regardless of whether you get a teaching bursary or scholarship. You will only have to make loan repayments once you start a salaried position.

Employment-based routes:

There are some teacher training courses that come with a salary. They are mainly employment-based routes, which involve learning on the job and earning a salary whilst you train.

Salaried courses are limited, often in high demand, and may require you to have significant teaching or school experience. For example, if you can demonstrate that you’ve already worked as an unqualified teacher or teaching assistant.

If you decide to take this route, you are employed as you train, and therefore wouldn’t be eligible for a bursary or student finance.

Employment-based routes are organised directly through a school, so salaries will vary.

Only a small number of these are available and they'll be decided on a case-by-case basis. If you want to explore an employment-based training with Ambition, you can speak to one of our partners about the opportunities they have available. Click here to find your nearest partner on our interactive map.

Salaries as a qualified teacher

What are the teacher pay scales?

Once you’re a qualified teacher, how much you get paid will depend on where you sit on the teacher pay scales.

Pay scales are bands used to ensure that teaching staff are being paid a wage that reflects their responsibilities and experience.

Teachers tend to progress through these bands depending on how many years they’ve been in the classroom. For example, teachers who have been in the classroom for five years are likely to be paid more than a teacher than a teacher who has just started in the classroom.

There are three different pay scales: main pay scale, upper pay scale and unqualified teacher pay scale. A common trajectory for teachers, and the one most teachers across the England will operate within, is the main pay scale. That’s why in this explainer we’ll focus on the main pay scale.

Notably, non-maintained schools (such as academies, independent schools, public schools, and private schools) are free to set their own pay scales, and so salaries in these settings could be different.

Pay scale progression for classroom teachers

Recent updates in the sector mean that if you have qualified teacher status (QTS), the minimum starting salary in England is at least £30,000.

How much more you are paid will be determined by your school and by your experience.

Pay scales also vary depending on where you’re located in the country, with salaries increasing the further you get into London.

The maximum grade refers to the most you can be paid as a qualified teacher without additional responsibilities. You could also receive additional payments on top of your regular salary for taking on extra responsibilities. This could be extra responsibilities added to your role, or a one-off payment for a particular project.

Your salary will also increase if you take on roles with more seniority, such as a lead practitioner or headteacher.

Here is a breakdown of the teacher pay grades for qualified teachers, as of September 2023:

  • England (outside of London): £30,000 - £46,252
  • London fringe: £31,350 - £47,839
  • Outer London: £34,514 - £51,179
  • Inner London: £36,745 - £56,959

Take your first step in your journey to becoming a teacher. Click here to visit our Teacher Training programme page.

If you’re already teaching, and want to learn more about the next steps in your development, you can find out more about the National Professional Qualifications on our programme page here.

Data sourced from Get Into Teaching.

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