Gender pay gap in schools has worsened over the last decade, say education experts

ASCL, NAHT, WomenEd, and NGA discuss findings from a forthcoming joint report which reveals that, regardless of school phase or structure, men are typically still earning more than women – and the more senior the position, the wider the gap becomes.
Commenting on Equal Pay Day* (Thursday 18 November 2021), ASCL, NAHT, NGA, and WomenEd discuss findings from a forthcoming joint report** which reveals that, regardless of school phase or structure, men are typically still earning more than women – and the more senior the position, the wider the gap becomes.

In primary schools, for example, the gap between men and women’s average pay has increased over the last decade by almost a thousand pounds, from £1,878 in 2010/11 to £2,834 in 2020/21.

Rachael Warwick, ASCL Past President, said: “ASCL has put its work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) front and centre over the last three years. We’re all familiar with the oft quoted and stubbornly static statistics regarding the lower numbers of women leaders in our schools and colleges, particularly those with protected characteristics and the compelling arguments for the need for change. Not only is this a moral imperative but we know that more diverse groups make better decisions, bringing a myriad of perspectives to the table and avoiding ‘the warm glow of homophily’ which Matthew Syed articulates so convincingly in his book, ‘Rebel Ideas’. As a leadership organisation, ASCL has a responsibility, and the influence amongst our 21,000 members, to make a positive difference. We need female leaders to represent the profession.  We will support our membership to take these much-needed steps.

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said: “We’ve seen school leadership pay eroded for everyone over the last decade, but it seems that for our female school leaders there has been a ‘double hit.’ Our forthcoming report is intended to continue this much needed conversation, helping to empower our members and female leaders everywhere, and use our platform to press for the changes in the system that are sorely needed.”

Emma Knights OBE, Chief Executive, National Governance Association, said: “Governing boards determine the organisation’s pay policy and have a very specific role in setting the pay of the most senior leader. Employers need to ensure themselves that all staff are treated fairly, equitably, and lawfully. We need to encourage and reward all the talent within schools and trusts. It is through developing our staff that we will provide the best possible education for pupils. The National Governance Association is committed to ensuring boards have all the information they need to do this well without a gender penalty. Governing boards are in prime position to effect change by ensuring a healthy organisational culture which is open to giving equalities, diversity, and inclusion active and on-going consideration.”

Vivienne Porritt, Co-founder and Global Strategic Leader, WomenEd, said: “In WomenEd we hear of many examples where women are paid less than men for the same role and with the same or greater experience. Our forthcoming report shows that such inequality is more significant than women realise. We want women to know that they have a right to talk about pay and to challenge any pay inequality so that, collectively, and in collaboration with other sector organisations, we can make a difference for all women leaders and educators.

* Equal Pay Day is a national campaign led by the Fawcett Society in the UK. It marks the day in the year where women effectively, on average, stop earning relative to men because of the gender pay gap.
** The joint report from ASCL, NAHT, NGA and WomenEd: ‘Closing the gender pay gap in education: a leadership imperative’, will be released at the end of November.