Men get paid more than women in equivalent roles, and the gap is widening in primary academies, claims NASUWT general secretary Chris Keates (pictured).
Giving evidence to MPs at the education select committee inquiry into academies and free schools Keates said the “gap is widening in terms of pay advantage for men”.
She appeared alongside three other union representative – Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the NUT, UNISON’s national education and children’s services secretary Jon Richards, and GMB’s national officer for education staff Avril Chambers.
Last year’s school workforce survey, published by the Department for Education (DfE), showed men in state maintained primary schools earned on average £38,600 and women earned £36,200. Meanwhile, in primary academy schools that changed to £38,700 for men and £35,200 for women – a pay gap £1,100 wider than in the maintained sector.
A new workforce census is due to be carried out next month.
Committee member David Ward, Lib Dem MP for Bradford East, asked: “About your members, you say that you support members within academies as well.
“Just what has been the impact on your members in terms of pay, in terms of conditions of service? What’s the evidence that you have to date?”
Ms Keates said: “We have got the DfE’s own figures . . . that show that in primary schools classroom teachers are paid about three per cent less in academies, and in secondary schools, two per cent less than the comparators in the maintained sector.
“What we are seeing is not what I think the DfE describes as negligible difference. That’s actually quite a significant difference.”
She added: “Our concern is that if you just look at the DfE figures, not only is there a disparity between what teachers are earning in academy schools, but . . . that the gap is widening in terms of pay advantage for men in the academy schools.
“We have real concerns about what is happening to pay in general, but pay particularly in academies.”
A DfE spokesperson said: “Pay discrimination is unlawful and equal pay legislation applies to academies in the same way as any other employer. The overall trend in the gender pay gap continues downward but we are clear more must be done. That is why we have changed the law so any employer who breaks the rules on equal pay must publish an audit of their pay structures.
Ms Keates also raised concerns about the representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in academies.
Last year’s DfE workforce survey showed that in state maintained primary and secondary schools, respectively, 5.7 and 9.6 per cent of staff were not classed as white, while in academies that fell to 5.2 per cent and 7.9 per cent.
Ms Keates added: “Academies are whiter, if I can put it that way, than you would get in the maintained sector . . . and that’s in a context where those teachers anyway are under-represented.”
The DfE spokesperson added: “We value diversity in the workforce but want the best people in the classroom, regardless of their gender of ethnicity. We continue to work with the National College of Teaching and Leadership to increase the numbers of black and minority ethnic teachers.
“This includes research to understand the low conversion rate of applicants to teachers, and working with groups like the Network of Black Professionals, and Teach First to keep hold of good candidates from that recruitment process.”
In the office we were concerned to hear that the gap between men and women’s earnings in schools is widening.
Chris Keates, general secretary at the NASUWT raised the issue this week at an Education Select Committee, and we’ve published the latest official statistics.
The difference is particularly acute in primary academies, with figures from last November showing female teachers earning on average 9 per cent less than men in those schools.
Next month the official salary count will take place again, and there are fears the gap may have widened further.
And how will the performance-related pay regime impact on gender equality?
As the DfE have rightly said: “Pay discrimination is unlawful and equal pay legislation applies to academies.”
So compliance is not an option or a freedom to ignore, it’s the law.