From education to employment

School leaders call out government inaction over largest education gender pay gap in a decade

On International Women’s Day, Friday 8th March, school leaders are urging the government to finally tackle the gender pay gap in education.

NAHT, the school leaders union’s, annual analysis of the gender pay gap, conducted with fellow education organisations the Association of Schools and College Leaders, National Governance Association and WomenEd, most recently showed that:

  • Last year, the average gender pay gap of across all state-funded schools was over £8,181 in favour of male headteachers
  • The pay gap between female and male secondary head teachers is the largest in 12 years, with women earning £3,908 less on average than their male counterparts
  • The gap for primary heads has continued to narrow but still stands at £2,181 less for women, on average
  • The gender pay gap worsens as considerably as careers progress – the difference by age 60 and over for heads now stands at an enormous £15,961

Despite damning evidence of a persistent, and in parts of the workforce, growing, gender pay gap, the government’s evidence to the pay review body for teachers and school leaders (the STRB), published last week failed to even reference pay inequity. The NAHT has long called for the review body to prioritise publishing detailed equality and inclusion data annually.

Sarah Hewitt-Clarkson, a Birmingham primary school head teacher who sits on NAHT’s national executive committee, said;

“Fifty years after women first won the equal pay act, in education, we are still being asked to do more whilst being paid less. For myself, and other female leaders, it is painful. The pay gap casts a long shadow over entire working lives, and later years – it’s the cost of a holiday, how much we can support our children, and it even impacts our pensions.”

Paul Whiteman, general secretary of school leaders’ union NAHT, said:

“For years, the DfE has put its head in the sand. The gender pay gap plagues every part of the education sector, and in some areas of leadership, it has now grown so wide that it is a chasm.  

“Once again, the government has failed to even engage with, let alone provide any meaningful analysis of pay equality for gender and other protected characteristics, or to show any evidence of a commitment to making teaching an inclusive profession in its work on pay, or its broader recruitment and retention strategy.

“The gender pay gap matters. Over the course of a decades-long career a small disparity can amount to a large difference in overall earnings, with major implications not only for an individual’s salary, but also their pension rights and entitlements. We have seen a major erosion of school leaders’ pay over the last decade, but for women this shows there is an unfair ‘double hit’ that must be tackled.

“NAHT believes that there is an urgent and incontestable need for the government to act without delay to conduct a detailed pay equality analysis for gender, and all protected characteristics.”

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