Both women and men needed in teaching

The government’s evidence to the Teachers’ Pay Review body (STRB) is a mine of useful information, as this blog has already pointed out, especially in respect of the teacher supply situation in London.

There was one other paragraph in the DfE’s evidence that caught my eye. The second half of paragraph 83 of the DfE’s evidence reads as follows;

“We have also worked with the sector to revise recruitment guidance for schools and have appointed nine Women Leading in Education (WLE) regional networks to raise the profile of women in education and to support career progression.” DfE Evidence to STRB, 2019, para 83.

This paragraph appears in the section about headteachers and other teachers in leadership positions and there is a helpful chart later in the section, which I have reproduced as the following Table.

Percentage of the workforce Female Male
Head Teachers 66 34
Deputy Head Teachers 70 30
Assistant Head Teachers 68 32
Classroom Teachers 75 25
Unqualified Teachers 69 31
All Teachers 74 26

Source: School Workforce Census 2017

The percentage of classroom teachers that are women is higher than for the three leadership grades. However, unfortunately, in their evidence, the DfE don’t further breakdown the data between the different sectors. And that breakdown may be important in understanding more about where the difference between the percentage of classroom teachers and heads is greatest, I suspect it is in the secondary sector.

Clearly, more remains to be done to achieve parity. I looked back at the first ever report of the STRB in 1992 where there is a table about the gender breakdown of the teaching profession as a whole.

Based upon what was then DES data, from the Database of Teacher Records in March 1990, the split overall in the profession was 67% female: 37% male. So, in the following 27 years, women have increased their share of the overall teacher workforce from 67% to 74%.

Interestingly, in 1990, the split among those under 25 at that time was 84% women and 16% male – (STRB 1992 1st Report Table 2). So, probably, disproportionally more of the men that were teachers in this age group in 1990 have become heads than have the women. Thus, the DfE are correct to try “to raise the profile of women in education and to support career progression.”

However, it is harder to find any comment in the DfE’s evidence this year to the STRB about the overall balance in the profession between men and women. Now what can and cannot be done by government is defined, as paragraph 83 of the evidence noted, by the Equality Act of 2010.

Promoting women’s career progression, where they are an under-represented group, is what the 2010 Act was about. Should there also be a duty to the DfE to try to even up the balance between the genders in teaching? In the past 27 years the percentage of men in the teaching force has declined by around a third from 37% to 26%. The opposite would not have passed unnoticed.

My concern about this issue, as anyone that reads this blog regularly will understand, comes from the fact that, in the past two years interest in teaching among women graduates has wavered, at best, or declined at worst. If the teaching profession loses the interest of women in any numbers, without attracting more men, then there really might be a supply crisis.








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