Teachers' pay in the maintained sector - Northern Ireland

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Pay and pensions
06 March 2017
In Northern Ireland agreement on teachers' pay and conditions of service is reached through the Teachers' Salaries and Conditions of Service Committee (Schools), more commonly known as the Teachers' Negotiating Committee (TNC).

This comprises the employing authorities/employer representatives (the management side), the five recognised teachers' unions including ATL (the Northern Ireland Teachers' Council or union side), and the Department of Education (DE).

Following negotiations, the Department determines teachers' pay and issues pay determinations/circulars which give legal effect to salary changes.

Teachers' (Terms and Conditions of Employment) Regulations (Northern Ireland) 1987 make provision as to the terms and conditions of employment of teachers in grant-aided schools and to peripatetic teachers.

Other contractural changes, and agreed schemes and procedures, are normally issued by the employing authorities/employer representative bodies, and further advice on these issues is available directly from them.

The TNC often devolves detailed consideration of issues to the Joint Working Party, which meets regularly throughout the year.

ATL Northern Ireland has published an analysis of the failings within the negotiating machinery for teachers, Teachers Falling Behind.


Current pay scales and information on teaching allowances and the salary sacrifice scheme are set out in circular 2006/27.

The Curran Inquiry

This independent inquiry reported on teachers' pay and on conditions in 2003 and 2004, and set the context for the negotiating framework in Northern Ireland.

The main recommendations of the first report were:

  • retention of pay parity with England and Wales
  • establishment of school development and performance management (SDPM)
  • assessment process for determining movement to upper pay scales.

These recommendations have been largely, but unevenly implemented. The second report recommended:

  • a contextualised Northern Ireland version of the Workload Agreement in England and Wales
  • a guaranteed first year teaching posts for newly qualified teachers
  • a winding down scheme allowing teachers reduce workload and hours approaching retirement
  • progression on the upper pay scales based on an operational SDPM scheme
  • amendment of the Teachers' Negotiating Council constitution
  • a regional consultative forum for strategic planning advice.

Other guidance

Northern Ireland employers have also issued further guidance on:

Employers in Northern Ireland

The main employers of education staff within Northern Ireland are the five education and library Boards, the Council for Catholic Maintained Schools, the 16 further and higher education colleges and in some instances, the board of governors of schools.

The Teachers' Pay & Administration Branch is a paying authority only.

Paydays in Northern Ireland

Permanent or pro rata teachers employed in maintained schools in Northern Ireland are paid on the last working day of the month, for the current day worked.

Temporary teachers are paid on the twelfth working day of the month and are paid for all temporary days/hours worked in the previous month.

Teacher's reference number

All teachers who graduate from universities within Northern Ireland will automatically receive a letter from the Department of Education, stating that they have qualified teacher status. This letter will quote their teacher's reference number.

All teachers from outside Northern Ireland who require a teacher's reference number should contact the 'miscellaneous enquiries' department of the Teachers Pay & Administration Branch, by calling (+44) 028 71 319000 or by emailing miscellaneous.enquiries@deni.gov.uk.

The Teachers Pay & Administration Branch should also be notified of any changes of name, address or bank details.


P60's are issued at the end of May with details of all earnings and deductions for the previous tax year.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

See also