School workforce suffers gender inequality, lower wages and fewer teachers


The annual school census figures have been published and behind the national headlines of £100,000 salaries for a few, lie serious issues of gender inequality, falling wages and fewer teachers. Pete Henshaw picks out the main findings.

The number of full-time teachers across England’s schools has fallen by 6,100 over the last two years, while male qualified teachers continue to be paid an average of £3,300 more than their female colleagues.

The figures come from the latest workforce census, which is based on figures from November 2012 and which has been released by the Department for Education this week.

The annual publication gives an insight into the state of the teaching and support staff workforce across England, including issues such as pay, ethnicity, gender, age and qualifications.

It shows that there are 899,000 full-time staff in schools across England, including teaching and support staff.


The figures show that there are 442,000 full-time equivalent teachers currently working in England’s schools. The figure is actually an improvement on last year when there were 438,000 teachers, but is still 6,100 down on the November 2010 figure of 448,100 teachers.

Of the 442,000 full-time teachers, a total of 367,000 are fully qualified, which is up 6,000 on 2011 but down 3,100 on 2010. The number of unqualified full-time teachers has dropped from 17,800 to 14,800 between 2010 and the latest figures.

The census also shows that the number of full-time teachers working in local authority maintained secondary schools has dropped from 195,600 to 105,300 in the last two years as more and more schools convert. Conversely, there are now 107,700 teachers working in academies compared to 74,700 a year ago.

Overall, there are now 213,000 full-time secondary teachers working across England.

Opposition ministers were quick to jump on the figures showing an overall drop in staff across the first two years of the coalition government’s term of office.

Kevin Brennan, shadow schools minister, said: “With pupil numbers increasing and fewer teachers, this government is undermining classroom standards. They have undermined professionals and allowed unqualified teachers into classrooms. Parents don’t want bigger class sizes and children taught by teachers who aren’t qualified.”

Support staff

There has been a marked increase in the number of teaching assistants, with 18,400 more being employed in England’s schools since 2010.

The workforce currently includes 232,300 teaching assistants, which compares to 213,900 in November 2011. The bulk of the rise has come in the last 12 months during which time 12,500 teaching assistants have been employed.

Elsewhere, there has been a 3,900 rise in the numbers of “non-classroom-based” support staff from 133,900 to 137,800 in the past year. The figures compare to 2000 when there were only 79,000 teaching assistants and 83,000 non-classroom support staff.

At secondary level, there are a total of 54,100 teaching assistants, 26,100 of whom are in academies, while there are 73,300 other support staff, 38,100 of whom are in academies. 

Teachers’ pay

The figures reveal that secondary academies are paying teachers £900 less a year on average.

The average salary for a classroom teacher at a local authority-maintained secondary is now £36,100, compared to £35,200 for secondary academy teachers. Notably, school leaders in secondary academies are paid £1,000 more on average (see later).

Teachers’ wages are down on November 2011’s figures, which show that teachers at local authority secondary schools averaged a salary of £36,200 a year, while academy schools paid their classroom teachers £35,700 on average.

Across all types of school, including primaries, a full-time qualified classroom teacher’s wage has dropped from £34,800 in 2010, to £34,700 in 2011 and £34,200 in the latest census.

Both the NASUWT and National Union of Teachers (NUT) said the figures busted the myth that pay freedoms lead to better wages. Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: “The statistical evidence gives the lie to the secretary of state’s claim that extending the pay freedoms of academy schools to all schools will result in good teachers being paid more. The changes are resulting in considerably reduced pay for all classroom teachers.”

Her counterpart at the NUT, Christine Blower, added: “It is perfectly clear that the restrictions on teachers’ pay, alongside all the pressures that teachers face from Ofsted and unacceptable accountability measures, means that the prospect of recruiting the number of teachers we need to go forward is very bleak.

“It is quite obvious that despite what the secretary of state says about his plans for the deregulation of pay, it is clearly not about paying a few teachers more but about paying the majority of teachers less. It can’t be right that while teachers’ pay has been cut, leadership pay in some academies has risen substantially.”

Leadership pay

Across all schools, leaders are being paid £55,700, up £200 on November 2011. 

At secondary level, school leaders in secondary academies are paid £61,900 on average compared to £60,900 in local authority secondary schools – a gap of £1,000.

National headlines focused on the handful of £100,000-plus school leaders after the figures showed that around 800 now fall into this bracket, up by around 100 on the year before.

Of these, around 500 secondary leaders earn between £100,000 and £109,999 (300 of whom are in academies), and a further 200 earn above £110,000 a year (100 of whom are academy leaders).

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, warned against blowing the figures out of proportion. He said: “Being a headteacher is a hugely demanding and influential role, equal in challenge to most private sector executive positions. Some posts demand exceptional salaries and in return deliver huge social benefits. 

“Despite these headlines however, the average headteacher’s salary is £55,700. Only 1.5 per cent of school leaders earn more than £100,000 and, meanwhile, 1,600 earn less than £40,000. It is clear there is a huge discrepancy between those school leaders earning the most and those earning the least.

“On this figure, they have to be a teacher, possess business acumen, a HR expert, a mentor, an administrator, a social worker and an inspirational leader, to name just some of their responsibilities.”


The female bias remains stark within the profession with almost three quarters of teachers, and more than nine in 10 teaching assistants being women.

However, pay disparities still remain, with female classroom teachers being paid an average of £35,600 in maintained secondary schools compared to £36,900 for men.

In secondary academies, men are paid an average of £36,000 while women get £34,700. At leadership level the disparity remains, with female leaders of maintained secondaries being paid an average of £59,500 compared to £62,200 for men. In academies, male leaders get £63,100 on average, compared to £60,500.

Across all schools and all qualified teaching staff, men are paid £39,900 on average compared to £36,600 for women – a gap of £3,300. This gap has not changed in the year since the census figures were last published.

Other statistics

The English Baccalaureate league table measure continues to have a notable effect after the data showed that 55.6 per cent of curriculum time in secondary schools is now spent teaching EBacc subjects – a rise of 1.2 per cent in the past year.

The profession remains dominated by White British teachers, with 88.4 per cent of teachers, 94.4 per cent of headteachers, and 87.9 per cent of teaching assistants falling under this category.

When it comes to age, almost a quarter of full and part-time teachers are under-30 while 21 per cent are over-50. Meanwhile, 52 per cent of heads are currently aged over-50.

The census shows that 96 per cent of teachers hold qualifications at degree level or higher.


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