December 2018

The know zone

  • A shared approach
    Ofsted's promise of a new inspection framework for September 2019 seems to have got everyone talking about the curriculum. Here, ASCL specialists Stephen Rollett and Suzanne O'Farrell share their tips on how leaders can embed curriculum thinking throughout their schools. More
  • Fair play for all
    Teachers teaching the same subjects to sixth formers in schools and colleges get paid different salaries. Kevin Gilmartin examines why and asks, "Is this really fair?" More
  • Avoid the trap
    Managing Director of Lighthouse Financial Advice Ltd Lee Barnard says that there are steps you can take now to avoid getting caught in paying a hefty inheritance tax bill. More
  • Close encounters of the student kind
    Where's the most surprising place that you've bumped into a former student? Here, ASCL members share their stories... More
  • Leaders' surgery
    Hotline advice expressed here, and in calls to us, is made in good faith to our members. Schools and colleges should always take formal HR or legal advice from their indemnified provider before acting. More
  • Let it snow!
    As you spend time over-indulging with your loved ones, spare a thought at this festive time of year for those still hard at work... like the finance and maintenance teams keeping our schools ticking over during the holiday period. More
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Teachers teaching the same subjects to sixth formers in schools and colleges get paid different salaries. Kevin Gilmartin examines why and asks, “Is this really fair?”

Fair pay for all

What is the issue? 

Imagine if Annie, Ali and Andy, three best friends in Year 11 at school, decided to do their sixth form studies at different types of institutions. Annie stays in her school sixth form, Ali goes to the local sixth form college (SFC) and Andy to the local further education college (FEC). Now imagine their surprise when they are told that their teachers (or ‘lecturers’ in the FEC) are paid differently depending on where they work, even though they are doing equal jobs. 

Well, this is exactly what is happening. Presently, the median salary of an FE lecturer is about £30,000 compared to about £37,000 for a school teacher. 

In addition, in September, the DfE announced that school teachers in England will receive a pay increase of between 1.5% and 3.5%, with schools having to fund the first 1%. However, disappointingly, no extra cash will be provided to fund a pay increase for SFC or FE college staff. Neither, says the DfE, is there any prospect of this until the 2019 spending review has been completed. So, it means that if colleges want to pay their staff a pay increase, they need to find the money from within existing budgets. 

How is all this calculated? 

The methodology behind the teachers’ pay grant is meant to be clear and transparent but this year funding for sixth form staff has caused the DfE a few headaches. Schools receive a pay grant to finance pay awards, based on the number of pupils in the school and paid on a per pupil rate. The award came into effect on 1 September 2018 giving a total of £187 million in 2018–19 (seven-twelfths of a year) and £321 million in 2019–20. However, seeing as 16–19 funding is separate from pre-16 funding, would the calculations include pupils in the school sixth form? The answer came back after a while, saying they would. Cue some relief in these schools. 

But the colleges didn’t get anything. The 16–19 funding rate of £4,000 (before add-ons), which makes up the clear majority of 16–19 income for colleges, must be used to fund teacher pay – including any pay awards. The fact that this figure has not increased since 2010/11 – if adjusted for inflation, it has actually fallen by about 20% – makes this very hard for colleges to swallow. 

Sixth form anomalies

To their relief, newer types of sixth forms, including 16–19 maintained schools, 16–19 academies and those SFCs that have converted to become 16–19 academies, are eligible for the pay grant. Conversely, however, the SFCs that didn’t convert are ineligible and it is worth noting that Catholic SFCs are still not allowed to convert to 16–19 academies even if they wanted. 

Might this change in the future? 

In response to a parliamentary question from Caroline Lucas MP on this issue on 16 October, Anne Milton, Minister of State for Skills and Apprenticeships, responded by saying that the question of FE pay is to be considered as part of the ‘FE Funding and Sustainability Review’. So, teachers’ pay in colleges will continue to be determined through national negotiations between college teaching unions and the Association of Colleges (AoC) and the Sixth Form Colleges Association (SFCA), for their respective teaching staff. Without a pay grant, these organisations are put in a very difficult position when they need to recommend a pay award. 

Perhaps some good news will be forthcoming from the review. Meanwhile, funding campaigns are underway to raise public awareness over 16–19 and FE funding. ASCL is pushing for a fairer approach, arguing that the pay grant should be applicable to teachers in all sectors of 16–19 education, and is working in partnership with the AoC and SFCA on their funding campaigns. 

In the meantime, the teachers teaching Annie, Andy and Ali all get paid different amounts. Surely, they deserve equal treatment for doing an equal job. Isn’t that fair?

Kevin Gilmartin
ASCL Post-16 and Colleges Specialist