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Nothing Wrong With "Ridiculous" Advert That Said Teachers Could Earn Up To £65k, Watchdog Rules

The government recruitment campaign was "instantly ridiculed" by existing teachers.

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The Advertising Standards Authority (ASA) received 140 complaints about the TV advert, which first aired as part of the Get Into Teaching campaign in October last year.

The advert begins with a female teacher walking along a corridor asking, "What does a good teacher make these days?"

A series of other teachers then respond by saying:

* "They make the complex understandable and the mind-boggling magical"

* "They make sense of matter and of what matters"

* "They make the curious expand their horizons"

* "They make futures into reality"

A male teacher adds: "And if you're wondering what else a good teacher makes, it's probably more than you think", which is followed by on-screen text stating "£22k to £27k minimum starting salary", "Up to £30k tax-free to train", and "Up to £65k as a great teacher".

Complainants including the National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the claim that teachers could earn "up to £65k as a great teacher" misrepresented teacher salaries.

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The "£65k" claim comes from a July 2015 report that found 12,845 teachers in England in November 2014 were earning £65,000 or more, despite only 485 of them being classroom teachers.

But after the Department for Education (DfE) said it was clear the upper salary was an "aspirational figure", the ASA did not uphold the complaints.

"We noted that the ad focused primarily on teachers in classroom situations," the watchdog said, "as it depicted a number of teachers conducting classes in different subjects, such as sciences, Chinese and drama, but we did not consider that viewers would infer from that, that the salary information represented a pay scale for classroom teachers only."

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Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, said the union had been “hopeful" complaints against the "misleading" advert would be upheld.

"The advert was instantly ridiculed by teachers, and they were right to do so," he said. "It is no surprise that the ASA received over 100 complaints. When only one in a thousand classroom teachers earn £65,000, it is obviously ridiculous for the DfE to give the impression that this is a likely salary.

"Rather than attempting to deceive the public about teaching's financial rewards, the DfE needs to be addressing the issues that are having a disastrous effect on the profession. Teachers face five more years of 1% headline-pay rises and huge uncertainty because of the chaotic implementation of performance related pay. Workload is through the roof, with many hours spent on tasks that have nothing to do with creating exciting lessons."

The DfE said it was "pleased" the ASA dismissed the complaints.

"Far from being inaccurate, the ASA has ruled that it is right to say teachers can earn up to £65,000 – as many outstanding individuals do," a statement said.

"Rather than repeatedly talking down the profession and complaining about initiatives to bring in more top graduates, the NUT should instead be working with us to promote the hugely rewarding career of teaching."

Matthew Champion is a weekend editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in London.

Contact Matthew Champion at matthew.champion@buzzfeed.com.

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