On International Women's Day (8 March) 2023, GovernorHub, part of The Key Group, released a research report delving into the salaries and working patterns of 1,298 governance professionals working in schools and trusts.
It sheds light on the often-hidden roles of governance professionals, who this research reveals are indeed predominantly female, and explores how their salaries fare against those in comparable roles in other sectors.
See the key findings of the report below, and some recommended actions to help overcome pay disparities to support the recruitment and retention of talent in these important roles.
The survey of 1,055 clerks, 100 governance co-ordinators and 143 governance leads found that:
- Around 90% of governance professional roles in schools and trusts are filled by women, making this one of the most female-dominated careers in the education sector and beyond
- The majority (85%) of clerks surveyed reported working part time - for governance co-ordinators it’s 49%, and for governance leads it’s 37% - which is far higher than the government’s national employment data at 23% of working-age people working part time in 2021
- Almost a third (30%) of all female governance professionals surveyed reported having taken a career break due to caring responsibilities, compared to 4% of male respondents
- Clerking roles in schools and trusts appear to have the largest salary discrepancies, with a median salary of £25,000 pro-rata, which is substantially lower than the median salary for equivalent roles in the local government (£33,782), public services (£33,636), and not-for-profit (£31,620) sectors
- Over half (54%) of clerks surveyed reported feeling ‘underpaid’ or ‘extremely underpaid’; comments from some respondents suggest this is often caused by needing to work more hours than are allocated to each task or meeting
- A lack of visibility and understanding of clerking roles, combined with their increasing complexity, might be contributing to the stagnation of pay felt by many clerks surveyed
A quote from one part time clerk respondent illustrates a lack of awareness, in some cases, of this role:
“Having worked for 10 years with the school, I had to ask for my salary to be reviewed a couple of years ago and the rate was upped. I checked my letter of appointment and it said my salary would be reviewed every year – I pointed this out, but it isn’t reviewed every year. I think my role falls through the cracks. As a part time employee, I don’t know if I am missing out on any other work benefits, pension etc., and whether I’m entitled to equipment to help me to do my job.”
To help improve working conditions for governance professionals and, in doing so, help recruit and retain valuable talent for the sector:
- Employers - should use annual appraisal meetings as an opportunity to review and benchmark pay, and follow government guidance on reducing your organisation’s gender pay gap
- Self-employed individuals - should negotiate hourly rates in line with benchmarked salaries, as well as hours assigned to each task
- Everyone working in governance professional roles - should set and share a working-time schedule to help improve work/life balance, and join a union, to help give them a voice and professional advice
GovernorHub's research report gives governance professionals in schools and trusts the evidence to show what they’re worth, and to look to align their pay with equivalent roles in other sectors.
The report recommends that employers and individuals take action to overcome the pay disparities, and ensure that governance professionals are recognised and rewarded appropriately.
By taking these actions, the education sector can strengthen its workforce of governance professionals who play such a vital role in supporting our schools and trusts. Championing these key roles will only serve to support the best possible educational outcomes for our children and young people.
Read the full report here.