Academy trust gender pay gap is three times the national average

Women working for academy trusts in England earn 31 per cent less than men, new research shows.

According to Education Datalab, the median gender pay gap at the 471 academy trusts that have submitted pay data to the government is 31.7 per cent in favour of men, more than three times the national average.

The analysis shows that median pay gaps at individual trusts ranged 62.7 per cent in favour of men at the Sussex Learning Trust to 19.2 per cent in women’s favour at the PA Community Trust.

The average pay gap among all 7,520 organisations to have declared their pay data so far is 10.1 per cent.

The deadline for academy trusts and other public sector organisations to submit their gender pay gap statistics was last Friday. Private and voluntary sector employees have until the end of today.

All companies with 250 or more staff are required to provide details of their mean and median gender pay cap, information on who receives bonuses and the difference in payouts between men and women, and details of the proportion of men and women in each of four pay bands, or “quartiles”.

In February, early analysis of the gender pay gap data by Schools Week found that primary school academy trusts had the largest pay gaps between men and women, with high numbers of female staff in low paid roles identified as a significant factor influencing the figures.

Only 11 of the 471 trusts reported pay gaps that were in favour of women, while three reported that they had no pay gap at all. One in ten trusts reported a gender pay gap of 50 per cent or more in men’s favour.

However, Philip Nye, Education Datalab’s external affairs manager and researcher, pointed out that there are some issues to take into account with the data the government has published on the pay gap.

“The data doesn’t take account of the fact that men and women may be in different roles or different grades,” he commented.

“Some will consider this a limitation of the data – though it could be argued that using this approach in fact shines a greater light on the large gender pay discrepancy that exists in part precisely because of differences in roles and seniority.”

Nye also highlighted the fact that the figures only cover employees. This means that if one academy trust employs cleaning staff directly, while another outsources these duties to a third party, the first may find its pay gap looks worse if the cleaning staff are lower paid women.

For more on the gender pay gap, see edition 135 of Schools Week, which will be published on Friday April 13.

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  1. Mark Watson

    As I’ve said before, these headline figures are really not that helpful. The gender pay gap reports give one figure that can be hugely misleading.
    In the report it breaks down the proportion of women in each pay quartile – why can’t it set out the difference in hourly rate within these quartiles? Then we’d have a much better understanding of whether women are being paid less than men for doing the same or similar work, rather than being unsure whether the discrepancy is down to more women being employed than men (which is almost always the case in schools).
    If we’re trying to eliminate women being paid less than men surely we can do better.

    • Mark – according to the Guardian, the national average pay gap is 18.4% according to the government’s statisticians.

      Re ATL – the ATL and NUT amalgamated on 1 Sept 2017 to form the National Education Union. It’s unclear whether the gender pay gap in your link is NUT prior to 1 September 2017 or for the NEU which would incorporate the ATL.

      That said, you’re right that there are limitations with the data as revealed in the article.

      • Mark Watson

        You are getting confused between the mean gender pay gap and the median gender pay gap.
        The article above refers to the median gender pay gap within academy trusts, and I believe the national average is 9.1%
        All gender pay gap reports show the position as on 5 April 2017, i.e. before the NUT and ATL merged to form the NEU. The link in my post is therefore not related to the NEU at all but shows the position at the NUT on 5 April 2017. We won’t have any figures for the NEU until (presumably) April 2018.
        The point still stands that we do not know what the position at the ATL was on 5 April 2017.

        • Mark – I thought there might be confusion between mean and median. Re ATL – I take your point re the reporting date (ie 5 April 2017). But is ATL exempt? According to latest info, it employs 200 people in the ATL section of the NEU. This figure may not refer to pre 5 April 2017, but if it does then ATL would not have to report the gender pay gap because the number of staff didn’t reach the 250 threshold.

    • Mark – What the gender pay gap figures have done (despite limitations) is to start a conversation about what may cause the gap. These could include: a lack of promotion opportunities for women; women are more likely to be part-time and/or juggling work with caring responsibilities; institutional bias; gaps in employment history (eg maternity leave).
      The Office for National Statistics has produced a detailed blog re the gender pay gap discussing such things as age, length of tenure and occupation which all have a bearing on the gender pay gap.

  2. Mark Watson

    I agree that the whole gender pay gap report issue is part of the process of discussing, and hopefully stopping, any discrimination based on gender. I think it’s not right to say it “started the conversation”, but that’s probably just semantics.
    The problem is that it’s such a blunt and unhelpful tool it could actually cause further damage.
    Consider an organisation which is highly pale, male and stale at all levels and which has a high gender pay gap. The easiest way to reduce the gender pay gap is to recruit a couple of highly-paid women and stop employing a larger number of lower-paid women (e.g. by outsourcing the jobs traditionally over-represented by women). This is not the right approach to making the organisation diverse and creating opportunities.
    A better way is to overhaul the way new people are recruited so that ideally as many women are recruited as men (and of course are paid the same). The problem is that new recruits, whatever their gender, are usually at the lower end of the pay scales within any organisation. Therefore adopting this approach would cause the gender pay gap to increase which is a disincentive.