Primary teachers

Find out about the pay scales for primary teachers, and the allowances, benefits and other entitlements covered in your employment agreement.

Your employment agreement

Primary teachers in state and state-integrated schools and kura are covered by:

  • the Primary Teachers’ Collective Agreement (PTCA), or
  • an individual employment agreement, with similar terms and conditions as the PTCA.

You are covered by the PTCA if your work is covered by this agreement and you’re a member of the primary teachers’ union, the New Zealand Educational Institute – Te Riu Roa (NZEI Te Riu Roa).

You need to sign an individual employment agreement if your work is covered by the PTCA but you are not a member of the NZEI Te Riu Roa. The Ministry of Education develops and publishes the individual employment agreement. The terms and conditions of your work are similar to the collective agreement.

If you are a teacher at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu, please check part 8 of the collective agreement as there are some special employment conditions that apply to you.

Your pay

Your pay is covered in part 3 of your collective agreement.

Your base salary

The amount you can be paid as a teacher depends on your qualifications, experience and whether you qualify for any units or allowances.

There are 6 salary groups for trained teachers, each with a minimum and a maximum salary. Your salary group depends on your qualifications.

The first two salary groups do not apply to current New Zealand graduates. New Zealand initial primary teacher education now requires (at minimum) the completion of a teaching qualification at L7 (e.g. Bachelor of Teaching) or an undergraduate subject degree followed by a graduate diploma of teaching (e.g. BA + Grad Dip Tchg). Therefore all new NZ primary teacher graduates will, at minimum, start at salary group 3.

Salary groups 1 and 2 may apply to teachers who started teaching when a diploma was the only entry requirement.

Salary groupStarting salaryMaximum salaryNQF* levelExample of qualification
1 $36,692 $59,621 5 Diploma of Teaching (Note: no longer applicable to new New Zealand trained primary teachers)
2 $39,513 $63,929 6 Higher Diploma of Teaching or 2/3 degree (except a three year ITE degree) (Note: no longer applicable to new New Zealand trained primary teachers)
3 $47,980 $71,891 7 Bachelor of Teaching
3+ $49,588 $75,949 7 Bachelor of Arts and Graduate Diploma of Teaching
4 $51,508 $75,949 8 Honours Degree or Masters of Teaching
5 $54,330 $75,949 9 or 10 Master's or PhD

*NQF = National Qualifications Framework

Most trained primary teachers enter the salary scale at group 3 or group 3+.

You can earn more than your maximum salary step if you are entitled to units or allowances.

If you are in salary group 1 or 2, you can move above your maximum, up to the group 3 maximum, if you have been allocated permanent units.

If you are a resource teacher learning and behaviour, resource teacher deaf, resource teacher vision, resource teacher intellectually impaired or regional health school teacher, your pay scale is a bit different. Please check clause 3.1.7 of the collective agreement for full details.

Pay rises

An increment is the pay rise you get when you move up a step on your base salary scale. This is on top of base salary increases negotiated through the collective agreement bargaining process.

You will most likely move up one salary step each year until you reach the maximum salary step for your qualification.

Here’s how the increment process works.

  • You are assessed against the performance standards in schedule 3 of your employment agreement (by your board of trustees or principal).
  • If you have met the standards, you move up a salary step on the scale.

If a teacher hasn’t met the standards, they are given a specific time to do so. If they haven't met the standards after this time, they don’t move up a salary step. In some cases, competency procedures will be needed.

The table shows the increments on the salary scale for trained primary teachers. Your starting salary and maximum depend on which salary group you are in.

StepBase salaryIncrement between steps (%)Increment between steps ($)
1 $36,692 - -
2 $39,513 7.14% $2,821
3 $43,745 9.67% $4,232
4 $47,980 8.83% $4,235
5 $49,588 3.39% $1,680
6 $51,508 3.73% $1.920
7 $54,330 5.19% $2,822
8 $59,621 8.87% $5,291
9 $63,929 6.74% $4,308
10 $68,446 6.60% $4,517
11 $71,891 4.79% $3,445
12 $75,949 4.68% $3,558

Units and allowances

As well as general salary funding, schools receive a certain amount for ‘units’. Boards can allocate units as a permanent or fixed-term addition to a teacher’s salary. Each unit is worth $4,000pa.

You can read more about units in clause 3.10 of your collective agreement.

If you are a teacher at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu, please read clause 8.4 of the collective agreement.

You may also qualify for one or more of the following allowances, which are added to your salary.

Recruitment, retention and responsibility (3R) allowance

Your school board may pay you a 3R allowance to recognise an extra responsibility that you take on, or to achieve recruitment or retention goals. Boards need to consult with teaching staff about the allocation of these payments.

The 3R payment is $2,750pa for primary teachers and can be paid permanently or for a fixed term. You can read more about 3R payments in clause 3.26 of your collective agreement.

Primary priority teacher supply allowance

You’ll be paid the primary priority teacher supply allowance of $1,500pa if you work in a priority staffing status school (sometimes called ‘hard to staff’ schools).

  • Find out which schools qualify for the primary priority teacher supply allowance.
  • Read more about this allowance in clause 3.16.2 of your collective agreement.

Staffing incentive allowance

You’ll be paid an allowance of $1,000pa if you don’t get the priority teacher supply allowance and you work full-time in a school that qualifies for the staffing incentive allowance.

  • Find out which schools qualify for the staffing incentive allowance.
  • Read more about this allowance in clause 3.16.1 of your collective agreement.

Isolation allowance

You will receive an isolation allowance if your school is in an area the Ministry has defined as isolated. This means you live in a place with a population of less than 300, and you are more than a certain distance from a population centre of more than 1,500 people. There are different categories and rates for the allowance, depending on the distance.

  • Find out which schools qualify for the isolation allowance.
  • Read more about isolation allowances in clause 3.15 and find out the amounts that are paid in appendix 1 of your collective agreement. 

Normal school allowance

You will receive a normal school allowance of $2,000pa if your school is defined as a normal or model school, which means it is a school specifically used for initial teacher education.

Associate teacher allowance

If you are involved in the practical training of student teachers, you can be paid an associate teacher allowance. The amount is $51.60 for each week that you have a student teacher in your class for at least 4 teaching days. Read the full criteria in clause 3.21 of your collective agreement. 

You can’t get this allowance as well as the normal school allowance.

Tutor teacher allowance

If you are a fully registered teacher and you are mentoring a provisionally registered first or second year teacher, you can be paid a tutor teacher allowance. The amount is either $4,000pa or $1,000pa, depending on the number of hours that the provisionally registered teacher is employed each week. Read the full criteria and amounts payable in clause 3.27 of your collective agreement.

Advanced classroom expertise teacher allowance

If you qualify as an advanced classroom expertise teacher, you will be paid an allowance of $5,000pa to recognise your expertise.

Māori immersion allowance

If you are required to use te reo Māori in Māori immersion classes at levels one, 2 or 3 you may qualify for a Māori immersion allowance of $4,000pa.

If you have more than 5 years’ continuous teaching at level one, you will get an additional allowance of $1,000.

You can find out more about this allowance in clause 3.17 of your collective agreement. 

The levels of Māori immersion are defined in schedule 1 of the agreement.

Resource teacher learning and behaviour

If you are a resource teacher learning and behaviour (RTLB) you will be paid an extra unit and allowances.

Braille or New Zealand Sign Language allowance

If you are a full-time teacher at one of the eligible schools, you may be entitled to an allowance that recognises your qualifications and abilities in teaching using New Zealand Sign Language or Braille.

Eligible schools (school numbers) are:

  • Kelston Deaf Education Centre (503)
  • Van Asch Deaf Education Centre (519)
  • Blind and Low Vision Education Network of New Zealand (BLENNZ, 4156).

You can find out more about this allowance in clause 3.29 of your collective agreement.

Other allowances

You may also qualify for other allowances, such as higher duties, relieving principal, special duties and bus controller. These are covered in clause 3.11 of your collective agreement. 

If you are a teacher at Te Aho o te Kura Pounamu, your off-site allowance and travelling allowance are covered in clauses 8.6 and 8.7 of the collective agreement.


Part 4 of your collective agreement covers all your leave entitlements, including sick, parental, bereavement (tangihanga), study, refreshment and sabbatical. Your school can also allow discretionary leave for various activities. Read more about the main types of leave for teachers.

Other benefits and entitlements

You are entitled to 10 hours’ classroom release time each term. Your school will have a policy that sets out how this time is allocated among teachers throughout the term. You can find out more about classroom release time in clause 3.29 of your collective agreement.

If you move schools because you’re promoted, or you move to work in a ‘hard to staff’ school, you may qualify for a transfer and removal payment to help cover your costs.

If you have a certain type of illness or injury, your time off isn’t taken off your sick leave balance. This is called disregarded sick leave.

The Ministry of Education is able to approve different terms or conditions than those in the employment agreements, such as extra pay, allowances or benefits. This is often called concurrence. It is rarely granted to teachers because school boards have the discretion to offer 3R allowances. School boards must apply for concurrence before offering different terms or conditions.

Working when school is closed

You may be required to work at times when the school is closed to students, for professional development or duties such as administration, preparation, planning, and parent, whānau and community liaison.

Clause 2.10.3 of your collective agreement sets a maximum of 10 days in a school year when you can work when the school is closed.

When your board asks you to work on a closed day, they must take into account whether you have already undertaken professional development or carried out various tasks in your own time.

Leaving your job

To resign (or retire) from your job as a teacher, you need to give your school board 2 months’ written notice.

If you feel that you are being forced to resign or your work situation has become intolerable and you feel you have no choice but to leave, you may have grounds for an employment dispute. There is more information about this in your collective agreement – clause 10.8 and part 11.

If your board dismisses you from your job as a teacher, they must give you 2 months’ written notice and follow the procedures set out in the employment agreement – clause 2.9.2 and part 10.


KiwiSaver is the superannuation scheme available to new and existing teachers. The employer contribution is currently 3% of your gross earnings, and you can choose to contribute 3%, 4% or 8% of your pay.

You may already belong to a superannuation scheme that is closed to new members, such as:

  • the Teachers Retirement Savings Scheme and the State Sector Retirement Savings Scheme, each with an employer contribution of up to 3% of your gross salary
  • the Government Superannuation Fund, which has an employer contribution of 6.5% or 7% of your gross salary
  • the National Provident Fund, which has an employer contribution of up to 3% of your gross salary.

If you belong to one of the old schemes and KiwiSaver, employer contributions are only paid to KiwiSaver if the amount paid into the other scheme is less than the KiwiSaver contribution of 3%. So if the employer contribution to your other fund is 4%, you will not get any payment into KiwiSaver as well. However, if the employer contribution to your other fund is only 2%, you will also get one per cent paid into your KiwiSaver scheme.

The KiwiSaver (external link)  website has everything you need to know about KiwiSaver.

You can find out more about the other schemes on the State Services Commission (external link)  website. If you have any questions, contact the provider directly.

Last reviewed: Has this been useful? Give us your feedback