Exploring the Gender Pay Gap in Education

44 of the top 100 employers (by Median % Difference) are schools – the Gender Pay Gap is a major issue in education.

Following the release of the Gender Pay Gap data in the UK on 4th April 2018, I decided to carry out some basic analysis of the Education Sector. https://gender-pay-gap.service.gov.uk/

top 100

Schools make up the largest proportion of the top 100 highest Median % Difference in hourly pay. Many of the other sectors also have a reputation of being male dominated including Finance and Insurance.

Comparison by Education Type

Overall Comparison Mean Median

Boys Independent Schools have the most extreme Gender Pay Gap (31%) of all Education Types followed by Coed schools (24%), both well above the national average of 12%. Girls schools are biased towards women compared to the national average with women earning on average 14% better (in terms of % difference) than the national average. Compared to Independent Schools, Academies have a far higher average Gender Pay Gap with women earning 9% less in Academies compared to Independent schools.

The Median % Difference is higher than Mean % Difference for all schools due to teachers making up the largest proportion of the workforce. Coupled with the automatic annual increase given to most teachers, this ensures a positive skew for the spread of pay. Put simply, in contrast to most other employment sectors, schools have a large number of teachers earning more than most other people employed in the school.


Gender of Workforce

Workforce Split

For General Secondary Education on average, men make up 29% of the workforce whilst women 71%, and women earn on average 27% less than men. Academies have the lowest proportion of men in the workforce of 25% on average with Boys Independent schools having the largest male proportion of any Education Type. These are all dwarfed by Airport and Airlines with 63% of their workforce being male.

Gender of Headteachers

gender of heads

For the 155 Independent schools identified in the Gender Pay Gap data, 25% of Independent school head teachers are women, 71% men.

Top 10 – Highest Gender Pay Gap – Independent Schools

top 10 independent

The Royal Hospital School has the largest gender pay gap of all schools, it is ranked 13th out of 10655 employers. A more detailed breakdown of The Royal Hospital School can be found below. At The Royal Hospital School women earn 66% less than men, this is 6 times the national average for all employers and 3 times the average for independent schools. The top 10 independent schools each have a Gender Pay Gap 3 times larger than the average independent school.

Bottom 10

Bottom 10 Independent

Girls Independent Schools bias women, with 7 of the bottom 10 being occupied by Girls Schools. All the schools in the bottom 10, men earn between 47% and 9% less than women.

Top 10 – Highest Gender Pay Gap – Secondary Education

Top 10 Secondary Education

The Sussex Learning Trust has the highest gender pay gap of any secondary education employer of nearly 63%. The Top 10 secondary education employers by Median % Difference all have women earning more than 58% less than men.

Explore the Interactive Map – Independent Schools

gender map

The Royal Hospital School

Royal Hospital School 2Royal Hospital School 1

Very few women (35%) earn in the top quartile at The Royal Hospital School whilst 88% of the lowest quartile is women (88%).

Comparison – Top Quartile

Top Quartile

Girls Independent Schools have the highest proportion of women in the top quartile comparable only to Clothing Retailers who have 65% of the top quartile consisting of women. The lowest proportion of women in the top quartile are Boys Independent Schools. Overall, Colleges and Independent Schools have the most equal average balance of all education types of 37% men and 63% women.

Comparison – Lowest Quartile

Lower Quartile

Women provide the largest proportion (75%) of the lowest quartile for all education types. Boys Independent Schools have the lowest proportion of women with 67%. Across all education types women make up the majority of the lowest quartile of pay. Academies have the largest proportion of women in the lowest quartile (83%).

Important to remember

Only organisations employing over 250 employees were required to submit their data, as a many schools weren’t required to publish.

The structure of chains of academies and trusts means it’s hard to sometimes hard to identify single schools as trusts may have 10’s of schools as part of their partnership.

Equal pay means that men and women in the same employment performing equal work must receive equal pay, as set out in the Equality Act 2010.

None of this means women are paid less for the same job but instead that women in schools most often don’t occupy the highest paid jobs.


This data raises big questions about society – Why is it that women are less likely to be headteachers in independent schools? Why do women make up the highest proportion of lowest paid jobs and the smallest proportion of highest pay in education? Why are women more likely to earn more in girls independent schools and men in boys independent schools?

Flip Traditional Ideas of Revision on their Head!


I recently spoke at “Geography in Action”, a training partnership event hosted at the Institute of Education, part of a one day event for sixth form geographers.

The premise of my talk was to challenge traditional ideas of revision and instead provoke students to be active, collaborative and teach others.


Revision is often perceived to be the “black box” phase between the dissemination of large quantities of information in lessons and the time pressured climax of an examination.

From a list of over 20 revision activities I compiled over many years, I chose to share these four key ideas during the talk.


It’s important for students, teachers and parents to realise that locking yourself away in a room or the library and endlessly reading notes is one of the most inefficient forms of revision for the majority of people. Through modelled and developed behaviour in class, students can learn to work effectively in small groups in revision.

The Google Drive example illustrates the use of crowd sourcing revision notes to create the ultimate list of key points relating to named examples or can be used to compile the best response to an exam question.

Using Google Earth students can geolocate named examples and create layers to highlight links between examples. Google Earth also offers the opportunity to shift formats, incorporate images and videos and condense information into the small bubbles associated with locations.

I also made a particular point that we should move away from use of the term “case study” and instead use the phrase “named example”. Geography is not about remembering a list of facts associated with particular places, the higher marks are always associated with analysis and evaluation by comparing and contrasting specific examples and it is this that students should focus on.

Regular and small scale revision is also much more efficient than leaving revision to the end of a year.

Working with friends in a productive manner or engaging with family members is also an effective technique. Teaching others a topic can be a great tool to force you to better understand the components of a subject especially if sharing knowledge with non specialists.

In summary, revision should:

  • Be active, collaborative and involve teaching others
  • Involve digital tools to enable and facilitate effective revision
  • Use “named examples” rather than “case studies”
  • Be regular and common behaviour
  • Involve friends and family

Geography Calendar

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For years now, Paul Thompson has run a superb initiative at Sevenoaks School of a “Geography Calendar” which raises money for a girls’ educational charity “Education for All” in Morocco. Students in the sixth form then visit the charity in Morocco to see the impact of the money raised.

The calendar is compiled by a team of students who select photos submitted by students, parents and teachers of the school.

Having moved school, I saw this as a great opportunity to run the same concept in a new setting and set about engaging sixth form students and collecting submissions. Using Firefly and email, members of the school community sent in over 100 photos which we’re then trawled through to find the 13 (including the cover image) winning photos to be included in the calendar.

A few evenings spent on photoshop mean’t we then had a completed calendar and fortunately Awesome Merchandise started printing calendar so we could source a suitable number for a reasonable price.

We targeted a number of school events, the weekly email newsletter and toured tutor groups. The calendar was also available on the Geography online shop.

Here’s the completed calendar.


Here’s a video about the charity.

Geography Promo Video

Geography has always had an interesting time communicating itself to outsiders.

School Geography in particular has had to face the challenges of outdated stereotypes, misinformed parents and teachers of other subjects whose last experience of Geography was most likely decades ago.
Recently Danny Dorling & Carl Lee published “Geography” as part of the Ideas in Profile series. The book is the perfect primer to the most recent discussions of what Geography is and where it can take us.

Having read the book and been inspired, I tried thinking up imaginative ways to share the key message and came up with the idea of recording myself reading sections on top of a hill. I also ended up making a spoof Cassetteboy vs Geography_Paul video and a video cut from footage filmed over the last few years which I hope conveys what school geography can be.

Car Lee appreciated my enthusiasm!

RGS Data Champions

Last week I travelled to London to take part in the first meeting of the RGS Data Champions.

It’s always a treat to pop up to the society, the building is beautiful, the people friendly and the hospitality superb.

We were treated to a talk from Dr Faith Taylor. The slides are here. The key elements which stood out for me were:

Shuttle radar topography mission – land elevation data / can be accessed through google earth

Diva GIS – boundary data free

Protected planet.net – conservation and ecology layers

Hydro1k – hydrology

Kcl geodata portal – land use change / deforestation 

NASA worldview – satellite data in near realtime

Google earth engine – using jacascript to analyse images 

Knmi climate explorer – searching for local weather stations

Map swipe for mapathons

We also had a special tour from the librarian of original field equipment from many of the first expeditions the society was involved with.

Much of the afternoon was spent discussing ideas for spreading our enthusiasm for data skills, gis and digital fieldwork.

Watch this space for more from the RGS Data Champions.

1000’s of Teaching Resources

For a while now, I’ve been meaning to publish my teaching resources to the world.

Finally this half term, I found the time!

I’ve always thought that as much as the immediate lesson is motivation enough to develop great lessons, it’s a shame they might only get used once if not sit dormant for a year, wouldn’t it make much more sense if they were available as a resource for everyone.

One of the main stumbling blocks has always been how to host the material online in a way that anyone would be able to access. Everyone knows geographyalltheway, where Richard hosts a website with materials embedded within individual pages, this would have been too time consuming to convert my resources. Luckily Google Drive provided an easy solution where simply adding a google enabled email address to a share list would enable access.

Through careful juggling of folders, anyone who subscribes can now access Geography Paul’s curated folders of resources. The folders contain a great variety of both topics and exam boards, including iGCSE, GCSE, A Level, IB and of course our very own Geography Bedales Assessed Course.

China / Rivers / Borders / Globalisation / Urban / Fieldwork / London / Brazil / Rainforests / Oceans / Coasts / Landscapes / Places / Tectonics / Weather & Climate / Resources / Sustainability / Cold Environments / Disease / Climate Change / Hazards / Extreme Environments / Development / Poverty / Inequality / Iceland


My motivation also stemmed from the opportunity to raise money for a worthy cause and in this case I decided all money raised should go to Surfers Against Sewage.


Once teachers have signed up, they’ll be able to use the Google Drive search facility to search key terms for words in every presentation and document. Once, they find something they like, they can then save a copy of their own to edit or download in a suitable format to use themselves. I’m hoping these resources will also spark debate and reflection. Anyone with access will also be able to comment on the resources and suggest tweaks.

Here’s an example of some of the resources.

Alan Parkinson has been particularly kind mentioning the project on his blog.


A month testing the Suunto Spartan Ultra


Back in August I was contacted by Suunto and asked if I’d like to test their new Spartan Ultra – adventure multisport GPS watch. Of course, I jumped at the chance especially as this also coincided with my final training for the Berlin Marathon.

I’ve owned the Garmin Fenix 3 watch for a while now and also thought this might be a good chance to compare the two watches.

Garmin has certainly cornered the market and many of its watches are targeted at the entry level as well as the more advanced.  It was telling when we attended the Berlin Marathon expo  that Suunto had a small desk with a couple of watches and two rather reserved guys shying away, whilst Garmin had massive floor space and tens of staff creating a real buzz.

I’ve really enjoyed using the Garmin Fenix 3 but I’ve mainly used it for Hiking and Duke of Edinburgh Expedition supervision rather than running or cycling.


At first glance the Suunto Spartan Ultra is a beautiful watch, the strap flows from the watch face and the size is not too large. It’s definitely a comfortable watch and looks sleek.

The touchscreen is great. The display is really nice and clean with the choice of a variety of watch faces. Battery life is great and certainly better than the Fenix 3, I also think the location and average speed seem to be more accurate than the Fenix 3. The Movescount website provides excellent analytics and I recon it’s better than the garmin equivalent. The Movescount app is also great and the videos you can create which fly through your workout are great for sharing.

One thing I’m missing though is easily being able to see the height and temperature whilst not in an activity, something which was really easy with the Fenix 3 with just a tap of one of the buttons.

I’ve definitely been won over by the Suunto and will continue to use it. Suunto seem to be genuinely committed to the development of the watch and have already upgraded the software a number of times to include a greater diversity of options within specific sports.

The Geography of Me – New Teacher / First Lesson Activity

“The Geography of Me” is an activity I’ve done for a number of years as a great way to introduce myself to a new class whilst also gaining a better understanding of the students’ backgrounds.

For a subject like Geography, it’s a real asset to understand where your students come from and the experiences they might have had so that these perspectives can be drawn upon in future lessons.

The premise of the task is to choose 8 or 9 key locations from around the world which you feel “make” you, these might be where someone was born, where they lived for a while or more interestingly their favourite place to visit or a place close to their heart, ultimately it could be any place for any reason.

I normally start the lesson by playing my tour and narrating the locations, students usually warm to this little bit of controlled knowledge about myself. It’s also a great way to paint a particular picture, for example I’ve previously stressed my involvement in organising a music festival or running marathons. I then give students an A4 map to begin collecting their ideas before they go on to turn this into their very own Google Earth Tour with key places named.

Once students save their tour and place marks and submit the file as a kmz, I then collate the files for a single class to show them in the following lesson and look to see which places are well represented and which not.

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Census GIS – Would you like to become a Pioneer School?

A year ago, Dr Adam Dennett and I were awarded the RGS Innovative Teaching Grant to fund a collaborative project focused on developing resources to increase the use of Census data in schools.

Since then, we’ve created a series of 10 lessons targeted at sixth form students which builds transferable skills in cartographic visualisation, geographic and statistical analysis through the process of conducting an extended investigation. Dr Adam Dennett has developed clear and targeted instructions for the use of the Open Source and Free Geographical Information System, QGIS. The skills developed during the course are relevant to all exam boards. To see some of the course material visit: https://censusgis.wordpress.com/

Currently, we are looking for a handful of “Pioneer Schools” to be the first to teach either the full series of 10 lessons or specific aspects of the course. By signing up, you’ll receive full access to the course material as well as hands on professional development at our training day in the Autumn term, where teachers will be trained on how to use QGIS and walked through some of the activities in the series. In return we’d like to receive feedback on the teaching materials and hear about your experiences of teaching the course so that we are able to continually update and improve the content.

To express your interest please send an email to ukcensusgis@gmail.com.

Lesson 3