Latest News

Great news in NSW, but who are Australia’s “best paid” teachers?

AEU ACT Branch members have been buoyed by the news of a deal in NSW that, over 2023/24 looks to match the ACT’s pay deal. But are claims from jubilant NSW teachers that they will be the “best paid” teachers in the country really true, or would you be better off in the ACT?

From the end of October 2023, NSW teachers will be on a new one-year deal that sees them briefly trade places with the ACT as having the highest teacher salaries in the country before the two jurisdictions level out.

Of course, there are some other key differences in the two offers. For example:

  • The ACT deal has pay increases back-paid to January, while the NSW deal commences from the first full pay after 9 October.
  • The ACT deal is fully-funded with additional money for the education budget, while the NSW deal is only funded for a 4.5% increase, with the remainder coming from reductions to education spending.
  • The ACT deal locks in pay increases until December 2025, while NSW will have to bargain further pay increases following October 2024.

To show just how close the two deals are, we’ve conducted a comparison for first-year and seventh-year / top-of-the-scale teachers’ full-time earnings for the 2023/4 financial year.

Top of the scale teachers

 Salary 1 July 2023Salary end October (NSW)/ start of December (ACT)Salary 30 June 2024Total projected earnings (including ACT cost of living payment)

*Calculated on a monthly pay basis. Outcomes will vary depending on your circumstances.

At the top of the scale (NSW doesn’t have an 8th step, so we’re working from their step 7) it’s a photo finish, with the ACT coming out on top by $860 courtesy of the cost of living payment. Top of the scale teachers in the ACT will go past NSW in December 2024, moving to $123,788.

Most seventh-year teachers in the ACT will move to the new 8th step in January 2025 and a salary of $125,582.

First-year teachers

 Salary 1 July 2023Salary end October (NSW)/ start of December (ACT)Salary at 27 January 2024Salary 30 June 2024Total projected earnings (including ACT cost of living payment)

*Calculated on a monthly pay basis. Outcomes will vary depending on your circumstances.

Current first-year teachers in the ACT start strongly, but NSW starts to gain back some ground over the last months of 2023. After the first increment is abolished on 27 January 2024, the ACT draws level again before finishing the financial year ahead. Over the period, NSW finishes second after ACT teachers get their cost of living payment.

Okay, so who is really the best paid?

The truth is, the deals in NSW and the ACT are more or less the same. Who is better off will largely depend on how you calculate it and which pay point you’re looking at. We’ve used the 2023/4 financial year because it covers a reasonable part of both deals.

By the end of 2024, salaries in NSW and the ACT will be more or less level, and that’s a good thing. Raising salaries in the ACT alone might have helped attract or retain a few more teachers, but a big jump in NSW can significantly grow the pool of available teaching staff.

Likewise, when NSW comes back to bargain in October 2024, it can point out that the biggest increases in experienced teacher and school leader pay are still to come for the ACT. If NSW achieves a strong result, it will support ACT bargaining in about 18 months’ time. Recent strong outcomes in other states, including salaries in Queensland and workloads in Victoria, will help all of us to keep improving the pay and conditions of teachers.

What about school psychologists?

We haven’t forgotten our school psychologist members, and the good news in NSW about counsellor pay has certainly caught our interest.

NSW and ACT requirements for school psychologists / counsellors are different, with NSW requiring that counsellors hold qualifications in both teaching and psychology while the ACT requires only the psychology qualification.

Nonetheless, a big increase in counsellor pay in NSW does nothing to hurt the claims of AEU ACT psychologist members when we bargain again in a little over 18 months’ time.

Teacher and school leader 2024 pay comparisons – NSW to ACT

Classroom teachers

 NSW (October 2024)ACT (December 2024)
CT8ACT only (from Jan 2025)$125,582

School leaders

 NSW (October 2024)ACT (December 2024)
SLC2ACT only (from Jan 2025)$149,107
SLB2ACT only (from Jan 2025)$173,125

*NSW has 5 Principal grades. In this table, P2 reflects the middle grade from NSW.

Member login

Being an AEU member comes with great benefits, like access to our exclusive, member-only information and advice.