Schools

Gender pay gap widening for school leaders, new analysis shows

Education unions and organisations have raised concerns after the gender pay gap for school leaders grew in 2021/22

Education unions and organisations have raised concerns after the gender pay gap for school leaders grew in 2021/22

20 Nov 2022, 7:00

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A new analysis by education organisations including NAHT has found little progress in tackling the gender pay gap for school leaders

The gender pay gap for secondary school leaders grew by more than a third in the last year, a new analysis shows. 

School Workforce data from the Department of Education shows the average difference between male and female earnings stood at £3,698 in the 2021/22 academic year. 

In 2020/21, male secondary headteachers earnt £2,702 more on average a year than females.

The finding, published on Equal Pay Day, is part of research from leaders’ unions NAHT and the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL), the National Governance Association (NGA) and WomenED.

The average gender pay gap for headteachers aged 60 and over has also increased. In the last academic year, men earned an average £18,296 more than women – a 5 per cent rise from £17,334 last year.

Vivienne Porritt, global strategic leader for WomenEd, said the increasing gap signaled to women that “teaching is not an equitable progression”. 

She called on the government and “the whole schools sector to take the issue seriously”, adding that “our young people can’t afford to lose more teachers”. 

Emma Knights, NGA’s chief executive, said: “Employers need to ensure that all staff are treated fairly, equitably, and lawfully and NGA is committed to ensuring all boards have the information to do this well without a gender penalty”.

Other leadership roles, including deputy and assistant heads, also continue to see disparities in pay in terms of gender. According to the analysis, the gap for these roles is “up to” £1,502 across all state-funded secondary schools.

A report from the same organisations last year found the point beyond which pay differences became most pronounced was between the ages of 35-39. 

This continued into 2021/22, with the difference in average salaries between men and women doubling from £3,721 at 35-39 to £7,685 at age 40-44.

But the gap for primary heads has narrowed slightly, dropping from £2,834 in 2020/21 to £2,221 last year.

ASCL’s general secretary, Geoff Barton, said: “Last year’s report revealed significant disparities and the fact that many of these have increased is a concern. 

“We all have a role to play in tackling inequality within the education system, and must work together to foster an environment where everyone has the same opportunities to progress.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of the NAHT, said: “We know that the pay gap may be even worse for women of colour or those with disabilities – unfortunately we still don’t have national data needed to track this.

“This is an area that the government needs to do a lot more to fix.”

Equal Pay Day is a national campaign by the Fawcett Society to mark the day in the year where women effectively, on average, stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap.

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