It’s time to beat the gender pay gap in schools!

Schools will soon all be obliged to publish the differences in what they pay men and women. Sameena Choudry explains why that gap must now be filled.

Last October, Theresa May brought the gender pay gap back into prominence. She declared that tackling it is an absolute priority for the government and made it a requirement for companies to publish their gender pay gaps.

We already know education is a female-dominated profession

From April 2018, all companies employing more than 250 people are required to publish annual data on their gender pay gap, their bonus gap, the proportion of men and women receiving bonuses, and the proportion of men and women in each quartile of the pay structure. This will appear both on their own websites and the government’s site.

The concept of the “gender pay gap” refers to the discrepancy in what men and women are paid irrespective of their job or position. It is worth noting that this is different to equal pay – the reason Carrie Grace gave for resigning from her post as the BBC’s China editor – which means that by law companies must ensure that men and women carrying out the same or similar roles are paid the same for the amount of work they do.

Just over 500 companies, including some independent schools, colleges, universities and multi-academy trusts, have published their data ahead of time, which provides interesting reading.

We already know education is a female-dominated profession. The latest school workforce census shows that nearly three out of four school teachers, and four out of five school employees, are female. This increases significantly in nursery and primary, where 85 per cent of teachers are female compared with 63 per cent in secondary. Teaching and support staff roles are even more female-dominated: 91 per cent of teaching assistants and 82 per cent of support staff.

Be 10 per cent braver by negotiating a salary that is commensurate to your male counterparts

The ONS itself reports a significant pay gap: “senior professionals of educational establishments” have a 19.7 per cent pay gap in favour of men. For “secondary educational teaching professionals” roles, there is a gender gap of 6.4 per cent overall. “Primary and nursery teaching professionals” buck the trend: women are paid marginally more than men by half a per cent.

This brings us to the latest data, in which over 40 educational organisations went public, the vast majority being MATs. Unsurprisingly, the majority of these organisations have a gender gap in favour of men, varying from a very small 0.4 per cent for the FE College of Haringey and Enfield, to over 35 per cent at Ocean Learning Trust and Peninsula Learning Trust

In comparison there were only two educational organisations with a gender gap in favour of women. These were Northern Schools Trust (9 per cent) and Saint Elizabeth’s School (2.7 per cent).

There was only one multi academy trust – Connect Academy Trust in Plymouth – where there was no gap. Interestingly, the Department for Education was one of the government departments with a lower gender gap in favour of men than most, at 5.3 per cent.

No doubt these organisations will be looking into why these gender gaps exist and what they can do to over the forthcoming year to reduce them.

We at #WomenEd will be looking at what the data shows when the remaining educational organisations publish their data in April.

With such a teaching and leadership recruitment crisis, and while women dominate the workforce, this data will prove invaluable for existing employees to find out why there are such pay differentials.

For those applying for new roles, we recommend that women look at this data as part of their application process. Be 10 per cent braver by negotiating a salary that is commensurate to your male counterparts. We also hope that governors and trustees will play their part in challenging what is going on in their educational organisations.

We cannot wait another 100 years for the gender pay gap to close between men and women or – which is effectively the case right now – for women to work effectively for free from the equivalent of November 10 each year.

Sameena Choudry is co-founder of #WomenEd

Your thoughts

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.