The Gender Pay Gap


  • 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.1
  • The gender pay gap persists, however – standing at 18.4% for UK full-time and part-time employees.2 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%.3 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.4
  • 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 pay for all women teachers in all state funded schools including academies is £2,900 less than for their male counterparts every year (£37,700 compared to £40,660).5 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.6
  • 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).7
  • 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 schools8.
  • The gender pay gap among leadership teachers also varies according to age group. 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.9
  • The NUT has warned that the introduction of PRP for teachers will exacerbate gender pay differentials.10 Evidence from the European Commission11 and the Equality and Human Rights Commission12 supports these concerns. PRP for teachers will hit women teachers particularly hard 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 progression13 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.  Also, only 47% of eligible part time teachers (mostly female) received pay progression in 2017 compared with 61% of their full time counterparts.
  • The NUT 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.14 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.15 Public authorities in Wales are required to publish information about employees each year regardless of the size of their workforce.16
  • Academy trusts and schools with more than 250 employees have until April 2018 to publish their mean and median gender pay gap under new legislation passed in March 2017.17
  • The NUT 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 NUT 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 NUT will also continue to seek to reduce pay inequality in society by challenging gender stereotypes through the curriculum.18

1 Government Equalities Office (18 August 2016) Mandatory Gender Pay Gap Reporting: Public Sector
Employers Consultation Document

2 Office for National Statistics (26 October 2017) Statistical Bulletin Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings: 2017

3 Eurostat (2014), Gender Pay Gap Statistics, Luxembourg,Tables and Figures, Figure 1

4 Institute for Fiscal Studies (23 August 2016) The Gender Wage Gap, London

5 Department for Education (20 July2017), School Workforce in England: November 2016, London, Main
tables: SFR21/2017 Table 9a

6 Ibid, Table 5

7 Ibid, Table 9b

8 Ibid, Table 9c

9 Ibid, Table 9d

10 NUT (December 2015) EduFact: Performance Related Pay in Schools, London

11EU Publications Office (2014)Tackling the gender pay gap in the European Union, p5

12 Equality and Human Rights Commission (16 August 2016) Advice and Guidance on Pay Systems 13 NEU: A Survey Report on Pay and Pay Progression on Pay and Pay Progression in Schools and Academies by the NEU, published February 2018.  Available at  

14 Equality Act 2010, part 11, chapter 1

15 Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties) Regulations 2011

16 Equality Act 2010 (Statutory Duties) (Wales) Regulations 2011

17 The Equality Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017

18 NUT (2014) Breaking the Mould, London