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Why does Ofsted pay an overwhelmingly female group of inspectors less than their colleagues?

The inspectorate says that its gender pay gap can be explained by the fact that early-years inspectors – who are predominantly female – are recruited from a low-paid sector

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The inspectorate says that its gender pay gap can be explained by the fact that early-years inspectors – who are predominantly female – are recruited from a low-paid sector

Ofsted has come under criticism for paying early years inspectors less than inspectors of schools and colleges.

In a tweet this morning, Sean Harford, the inspectorate’s national director for education, said that Ofsted's gender pay gap of 8 per cent was in part explained by the fact that 83 per cent of early years inspectors are female – and that early years inspectors are paid less than their school counterparts.

He added that early years regulatory inspectors are recruited from a lower-paid sector than those HMI responsible for grading schools and colleges.


The report explains it in part: 'In particular, there are 243 employees in the B1 inspector grade (16% of the Ofsted workforce) and 83% of these are female. This reflects the demographic of the social care and early years sectors from which we recruit to posts in this grade.'>>

— Sean Harford (@HarfordSean) 14 March 2018



EY and SC regulatory inspectors (not HMI) are recruited from a different, lower paid sector. They also carry out a different type of inspection to HMI who inspect schools, colleges, prison education etc.

— Sean Harford (@HarfordSean) 14 March 2018


In fact, not all schools inspectors are HMI. But all schools inspectors are higher paid than those inspectors responsible for the early years and social care sectors.

Ben Thomas – national officer in education and child services for the union Unison, which represents a number of early-years inspectors – said that Ofsted was perpetuating existing inequalities.

“The pool they’re recruiting school inspectors from is principally senior leaders and headteachers – and there are market rates they have to pay, in order to attract those people.

“Part of the problem is that the early years sector in itself is a low-paid sector, so there aren’t the same market issues. But that doesn’t mean Ofsted have to reflect that in their pay scales.”

And Mr Harford faced criticism from teachers and early years workers on Twitter who argued that early years inspectors’ pay should reflect the complexity and diversity of their job.


Indeed. So the level of complexity is greater. You might be inspecting a childminder one day, a care setting another and a large nursery on another. That requires a more complex skill set than being in schools, which are largely homogenous.

— Debra Kidd (@debrakidd) 14 March 2018



EY & schls inspected under the same framework. EY inspector typically inspects alone, whilst schools usually by a team across 2 days - sharing the framework load & supporting each other. EY inspectors also require detailed knowledge of child development & all 17 learning areas

— KT Thompson (@thepetitioner) 14 March 2018


The details of this pay gap came to light following the publication of Ofsted's gender-pay figures. These figures also revealed that more men than women receive bonuses at Ofsted.

Mr Harford pointed out that the schools and early years inspectors’ roles had been independently evaluated – and the different pay grades upheld.

However, Mr Thomas added that an additional assessment of the roles will be undertaken this summer – and those early years inspectors who are successful will be moved higher up the pay scale from 2019.

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