Today I want to talk about money in ELT. Specifically, money in UK ELT. And more specifically than that, money in the Edinburgh private language school market.
In short. It’s a bit shit.
Now, that isn’t necessarily surprising. Not to me, anyway. I’ve been working in ELT in the UK since 2015 and I’ve yet to hit over £20k a year, despite working more than one gig at a time. The difference for me now is that I’m really pissed off about it.
April is the start/end of the tax year in the UK so I had the pleasure of receiving my P60 end of year statement, which stated exactly how much I’ve earned over the last tax year from my principal employer (I am also self-employed and have been, in varying capacities, since 2016). Last year, I earned £16,175.60. Due to seasonal fluctuations and some reduced hours around Delta deadlines, my average take home each month was £1,347.97.
For context, the average salary in Edinburgh, according to payscale.com is over £28,000 a year. Some sites have it as a little lower. From what I can gather, teachers in the state school sector are on or above this, although I know their working hours are often bloody crazy. According to home.co.uk, the average rent for a one-bedroom flat in the city is £986 pcm. On top of this you have council tax, bills, internet, Netflix, etc. etc.
Now, from time to time (my partner would perhaps say ‘every weekend without fail’), I panic about money. £1,347.97 is enough to live on, and I have no trouble budgeting for the bills, the food, and a couple of coffees/dinner out. (I recognise that having no children/dependents and a second income from my partner means I’ve got it way easier than many others in my position).
But then a hole appears in a pair of jeans (why don’t designers reinforce the crotch in women’s trousers!!??), and then another pair falls apart a couple of weeks later and suddenly I actually need to go shopping. That half-formed thought of getting a pair of quality jeans, maybe Levis, that’ll last longer flies out of the window because I need 2 pairs, now, and that would be £170, so instead I go to M&S and get jeans that, sure, I like, but I know the quality isn’t great. I buy a third pair in the hope this will stave off the panic next time they break, or will help them last longer because they’ll be on a bigger rotation, with less frequent washing.
OK, jeans crisis over.
But now there’s a wedding, and I don’t have any wedding clothes I feel comfortable in and it’s quite an important wedding (in Korea – don’t let’s get started on flights) with my in-laws – I need to make a good impression. So that’s £150 on a new suit and shoes.
And shit – my printer’s not responding to the new ink cartridge. The internet is trying to explain a complicated sensor cleaning process which seems not to include instructions on how to take the bloody machine apart. Quick google of new printers (goodbye newly purchased ink cartridges) – minimum £40 and they have bad reviews. Hmmm, how long can I sneakily do printing at work? I’ll reduce it to essentials.