College teacher pay continues to drop

College staff have 'had to face years of watching their pay fall behind', warns the Association of Colleges

Julia Belgutay

Average salaries of Fe teachers continue to dorp, new data reveals

Pay in futher education has dropped, according to new data from the Education and Training Foundation (ETF).

The 2019 Further Education and Workforce Data report from the ETF reveals a “decrease in median teacher pay across all providers”, from £31,800 in 2016–17 to £31,600 in 2017-18.

While pay in colleges was slightly higher than in other provider types, pay for teaching staff there has developed in the same way over time as pay across the entire FE sector. 

More news: 'Best-paid college principals in England revealed

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More news: College teacher pay higher in Scotland than England

Pay higher in colleges

Earlier this year, it was revealed that there would be no funded pay increase for teaching staff in the sector – despite schoolteachers on the main pay scale receiving a 3.5 per cent rise.

Tes analysis last October showed Scottish college lecturers are being paid on average £5,000 more than their peers in England. College staff in Wales and Northern Ireland are on common pay scales, but average salaries lag behind those in England.

The ETF's annual workforce data report analyses the 2017–18 Staff Individualised Record (SIR) returns. It shows a slight increase in casual employment in further education, with the proportion of individuals in the survey on permanent contracts down from 78 per cent in 2016–17 to 77 per cent in 2017-18.

Meanwhile, the proportion of casual staff increased from 7.4 per cent to 9.9 per cent, and the number of zero-hours contracts in the data increased from 3,323 to 3,501. The use of casual staff is more common in local authorities, where just over 40 per cent of contracts are casual, compared to 8.3 per cent at colleges.

There has been an increase in the number of apprentices being employed, compared to last year, with the increase being driven by a significant rise in the number of administration apprentices. The vast majority of apprentices are employed in colleges.

'Not enough'

University and College Union head of further education Andrew Harden said: “These figures lift the lid on the falling pay and lack of job security staff have to contend with and demonstrate why we have seen waves of action at colleges across England this year. It is not enough for colleges to say they cannot do anything to address poor pay and conditions.

“While some colleges have been hit by strike action, others have worked with us to improve things for staff and avoid disruption. UCU members have been on strike in London this week and there is more action planned for later this year if colleges refuse to address these types of issues.”

'Staff pay has suffered'

David Hughes, chief executive of the Association of Colleges, said the figures confirmed that the severe cuts to college funding had impacted "in two fundamental ways": "Staff pay has suffered and the number of hours of support for students has diminished, as well as reducing margins, capital spend and confidence in the future". 

“The staff pay is causing significant difficulties in recruiting and retaining the staff needed to support students and employers. It also means that many people working in colleges have had to face years of watching their pay fall behind as inflation increases prices. That is simply not fair and needs to change.

“We will use this data to increase the pressure on the government to address college under-funding in the spending review. I know that the Department for Education recognises the problem, we need to help them open Treasury’s eyes as well.”

'The most comprehensive source of data'

The SIR reflects 90,792 records, up from 72,104 for the 25th collection last year. Data was submitted by 193 providers, including 118 colleges – more than half of the general FE colleges in England.

Charlynne Pullen, head of research and evaluation at the ETF, said: “The SIR continues to be the most comprehensive source available for data on the workforce in the FE and training sector, ensuring that practitioners, providers and policymakers have a firm foundation for decision making. The report highlights trends including fewer, larger colleges following the consolidations that took place as a result of the area review process.”

Apprenticeships and skills minister Anne Milton said: "This year’s report shows colleges are growing, FE teachers are dedicating more time to their professional development and there are more apprentices being employed than last year.

“There is some good news in the report but we know that the FE sector needs to continue to recruit and retain brilliant teachers. We are investing up to £20m in new programmes to help with this. This includes our £5m Taking Teaching Further scheme to support up to 150 industry professionals to work in FE and our £8m professional development offer to help the sector to prepare for the roll-out of new T Levels from 2020”.


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Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay

Julia Belgutay is head of FE at Tes

Find me on Twitter @JBelgutay

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