In 2016, the then Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities, Justine Greening, declared that tackling the gender pay gap was an absolute priority for the Government.
Yet in 2018 the gender pay gap persists – standing at 18.4% for UK full-time and part-time employees. This means that women are paid on average 18.4% less than men. The pay gap has fallen from 27.5% in 1997 but it is still above the EU 2014 average of 16.1%, the lowest of which is Slovenia at 2.9%. The Institute for Fiscal Studies reports that the gap for women educated to A-level and degree level is approximately the same as it was 20 years ago.
The teaching profession is not immune from this inequality. This is in part due to the impact of career breaks on pay and career progression, lower rates of promotion for women teachers and the introduction of competitive performance-related pay (PRP).
The average annual pay for all women teachers in all state funded schools including academies is £2,900 less than for their male counterparts (£37,700 compared to £40,660). The main reason for this is the far greater likelihood of a male teacher securing promotion, 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.
The gender pay gap is lower among classroom teachers, with women classroom teachers in all state funded schools earning £900 less on average per year (although they earn slightly more on average in primary schools than their male counterparts).
The pay gap is, however, far wider for teachers in leadership positions. On average, women head teachers in all state funded schools earn £5,700 less than their male counterparts. While this is mainly due to the higher proportion of (better paid) secondary heads who are men, there is nevertheless a gender pay gap of £2,800 for heads of LA nursery and primary schools and £2,900 for heads of LA secondary schools.
The gender pay gap among leadership teachers also increases with age. On average, women head teachers in all state funded schools aged under 40 earn £5,400 less than their male counterparts; those in their 40s earn £7,700 less; those in their 50s earn £11,300 less; and those aged 60 or over earn £13,500 less.
The NEU warned that the introduction of PRP for teachers would exacerbate gender pay differentials. Evidence from the European Commission and the Equality and Human Rights Commission supports these concerns. PRP for teachers impacts women teachers particularly as women are more likely to have taken career breaks and are more likely than men to have worked part time.
A 2017 NEU member survey on pay progression found that a third of teachers eligible for progression who had been absent for all or part of the 2016-17 school year because of pregnancy or maternity leave had been denied pay progression. This was almost twice the rate of female teachers denied progression overall. More than half (61%) of such teachers said that they had been specifically told that they had been denied progression because of that absence. This shows that obvious unlawful discrimination continues to take place in schools despite the publication of DfE guidance on this matter. In addition, just 47% of eligible part time teachers (mostly female) received pay progression in 2017 compared with 61% of their full time counterparts.
The NEU presses employers to meet their statutory equality duties. The Equality Act 2010 requires public bodies in the UK to have regard to the need to eliminate discrimination, advance equality of opportunity and foster good relations. The requirement applies to all public bodies which employ teachers including maintained schools, academies, free schools, further education and sixth form colleges. Employers with 150 or more employees have a specific legal duty to publish annually information about the workforce which demonstrates compliance with the general equality duty. Public authorities in Wales are required to publish information about employees each year regardless of the size of their workforce.
Academy trusts and schools with more than 250 employees published their mean and median gender pay gap in April 2018 under new legislation passed in March 2017.
The NEU believes that all schools and colleges, regardless of the size of their workforce, should publish equality information about employees each year, including details of the gender pay gap, to demonstrate compliance with the general equality duty, identify trends and implement robust equality practices. Removing bias from processes will improve fair access to promotion, reduce the impact of career breaks on career progression and reduce the potential unequal impact of PRP.
The NEU will continue to challenge the gender pay gap in teaching by demanding that all employers collect, analyse, report and respond to gender pay differentials. The Union will continue to challenge performance-related pay and will work for fair access to promotion.
The NEU will also continue to seek to reduce pay inequality in society by challenging gender stereotypes through the curriculum.