Unexpectedly high Gender Pay Gap reported in schools

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04 April, 2018

With the 4 April 2018 deadline for submitting gender pay gap information looming, of 181 primary and secondary schools who have now reported on their pay figures only 11 pay women more than men. And of the 100 companies with the biggest pay gap across England, Wales and Scotland that have reported on their figures to date, 40 are primary and secondary schools, with 10 of those having a median pay gap of 50% or higher.

Employers with more than 250 staff are required to publish data for their median average hourly pay for men and women, with the median hourly rate for men and women used to define the gender pay gap. This gives an insight into how many women get into senior and well paid positions.

The Peninsula Learning Trust runs seven primary schools and one secondary academy in Cornwall and has a gender pay gap of 59.8% in the median hourly rate between men and women. The Trust believes that the size of the gap is explained by the structure of its workforce and "no discrimination takes place between men and women". A large number of women end up in lower paid, support roles in schools, and often work part-time.

However, some schools have reported women's median pay greater than men. White Rose Academies Trust in Leeds pays women 4.6% more than men, Northern Schools Trust in Liverpool 1.9% more, and South Lincolnshire Academies Trust 1.6% more.

A number of teaching unions believe that the main reason for pay disparity is the far greater likelihood of a male teacher securing promotion to leadership, especially to headships. In all state funded primary & nursery schools, 14% of all teachers are men, but 27% of head teachers are men. In secondary schools, 36% of teachers are men, yet 62% of head teachers are men. Whilst there may be many reasons for women failing to take up leadership positions, with so many women going into teaching it suggests that secondary schools in particular need to look hard at helping female teachers through the most difficult years of having a young family. In addition, the unions have expressed concerns that women going on maternity leave are sometimes asked to wait to receive pay progression and that Performance Related Pay may be responsible for this.

Despite only schools and trusts with over 250 employees being required to report on gender pay, the NUT believes that all schools and colleges, regardless of the size of their workforce, should publish equality information about employees each year. The NUT believes the report should include details of the gender pay gap to assist in identifying areas for improvement, increasing fair access to promotion, reducing the impact of career breaks on career progression and reducing the potential unequal impact of Performance Related Pay.

Ruth Rule-Mullen of Forbes Solicitor's Education team advises that "although many schools and smaller trusts fall outside the parameters of the Gender Pay Gap reporting requirements, it is clear that the issue of pay equality is attracting increasing attention from unions, staff and the wider public in general. With that in mind, educational institutions would be well placed to look into any disparity of pay internally, ensuring steps are taken to address any inequality and pre-empting any future interest."

For more information in relation to schools and educational institutions, please view our Education section. You can also contact our Education Group by telephone on 01772 220022. Alternatively, send your enquiry to us through our online contact form.

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