Reporting year 2023

School workforce in England

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Introduction

This release is largely based on the School Workforce Census (SWC). The census, which runs each November, collects information from schools and local authorities on the school workforce in state-funded schools in England.

Independent schools, non-maintained special schools, sixth-form colleges and further education establishments are not included in the SWC.

This release includes information on teaching and support staff, their characteristics, teacher retention and pay, qualifications and details of the subjects taught in secondary schools.

We present some breakdowns of this data in the text below, and more detail is available via the table tool or downloading the data files.

This year alternative estimates of teacher pay have been published as ad hoc statistics in Median teacher pay using teacher pension scheme (TPS) data. This uses TPS data which is retrospectively updated with any pay decisions that were backdated to before the census date in November each year. It is intended to provide an estimate that is more representative of teachers' pay after the award is fully implemented.


Headline facts and figures - 2023

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The size of the school workforce

Within this section we primarily discuss full-time equivalent (FTE) as opposed to headcounts. FTE best reflects the varied working patterns that the workforce may have.

As at November 2023 (2023/24), 979,100  FTE staff were working in state-funded schools in England. Of these, nearly half (48%) were teachers.

Teachers 

The FTE number of teachers increased marginally to 468,700 in 2023/24. This is an increase of 300 (<0.1%) from last year, and an increase of 27,300 (6%) since 2010/11. Headcount of teachers also increased; by 1,900 to 513,900 in the latest year. 

Most teachers held qualified teacher status (97%), the same as previous years. Teachers may be undertaking further qualifications during their employment to gain qualified teacher status.

The type of school in which teachers worked was split evenly between nurseries/primary and secondary schools; 47% (221,300) of teachers worked in nurseries and primary schools, 46% (216,000) in secondary schools, 6% (27,100) in special schools and state-funded alternative provision schools including PRUs. Less than 1% (3,900) were centrally employed by a local authority.

Further information on numbers of teachers in the UK, including non-maintained schools in England, can be found in the Education and Training Statistics for the UK  accredited official statistics.

Support staff

Support staff are categorised into posts of teaching assistants, administrative staff, auxiliary staff, technicians and other supporting staff, plus two new posts of school business professional and leadership non-teacher reported for the first time in 2023/24.

School business professionals include roles such as bursar, business manager, finance officer, office manager, premises manager or ICT network manager. 

Leadership non-teachers are members of the school's senior leadership team who are not reported in a teaching post. 

These new posts have displaced reporting from other posts, particularly administrative staff.

The FTE of support staff has increased each year since 2019/20, to 510,400 in 2023/24, and has now passed the previous peak of 2015/16. This is an increase of 4,800 (0.9%) since last year. This increase is mainly due to an increase of 2,400 in other support staff.

More support staff work part-time than is the case for teachers, this results in very different numbers for FTE and headcount. Approximately 5 in 10 technicians, 6 in 10 administrative staff and other school support staff, 8 in 10 teaching assistants, and 9 in 10 auxiliary staff work part time.

Two thirds (66%) of teaching assistants work in primary schools, and 16% work in special schools and pupil referral units. The majority of technicians work in secondary schools, 92%.

Information on support staff was collected in the school workforce census for the first time in 2011/12. Please follow this link to FTE for support staff by role

Occasional teachers and third party support staff

The school workforce census does not identify supply teachers or support staff. However, teachers and support staff who are not directly employed by the school or local authority and who are in school on census day (early November each year) with a contract or service agreement lasting fewer than 28 days are recorded as ‘occasional’ teachers and ‘third party support staff’ respectively.

In November 2023, schools reported 15,777 occasional teachers (headcount) on census day. This is down from the previous year when 16,594 were reported. Their headcount by Qualified Teacher Status is available in the data catalogue for each individual school.

In November 2023, schools reported 48,476 third party support staff (headcount) on census day. This is down from the previous year when 49,420 were reported. Their headcount by post is available in the data catalogue for each individual school.

Educational Psychologists

The school workforce census asks local authorities to report the number of educational psychologists they employ. This does not include where the service has been outsourced or shared between local authorities. For information on the data collection and limitations, please see this publication’s methodology. The headcount and FTE of these educational psychologists, by local authority, is available in the data catalogue.

In November 2023, local authorities reported employing 2,546 educational psychologists (2,102 FTE) on census day. This is slightly up on the previous year, 2,325 (1,939 FTE). Data by local authority and working pattern is available to download from the data catalogue.

Teacher characteristics

This section presents key teacher characteristics. Further breakdowns of teacher characteristics (such as by grade, school phase, qualified teacher status and working pattern) are available to download from the data catalogue, or you can create your own tables in our table tool via the green ‘Explore data’ buttons.

We discuss headcount in this section, rather than FTE. This is so that we can consider the characteristics of the workforce without differences in working pattern influencing the figures.

Gender

Gender makeup of the teaching workforce is consistent over time and is predominantly female; 76% in 2023/24. 

Male teachers are more likely to work in secondary schools than nurseries and primary schools: 14% of nursery and primary school teachers are male, 35% of secondary school teachers and 25% of teachers in special schools and state-funded alternative provision schools including PRUs.

Female teachers are less likely than their male counterparts to be in leadership positions (head teachers, deputy heads, assistant heads), however this difference has reduced over time. In 2023/24, 69% of leadership teachers were female, up from 66% in 2010/11. This compares to 77% of classroom teachers in 2023/24 and 76% in 2010/11. For a deeper analysis of teacher gender in leadership positions see School leadership in England 2010 to 2020: characteristics and trends.

Ethnicity

The ethnic diversity of the teacher workforce continues to increase, with 16.2% of teachers identifying as belonging to an ethnic minority group, up from 11.2% in 2010/11. Within these percentages, white minorities accounted for 5.3% of teachers, 

The proportion of teachers who identify as Asian or Asian British has increased by 2.3 percentage points since 2010/11, to 5.5% of the workforce. Over the same period, Black or Black British has increased by 0.8 percentage points to 2.7% and Any Other Mixed Background by one percentage point to 1.8%.

In the 2021 Census, 10.1% of the working age population were Asian or Asian British, 8.8% white minority groups, and 4.4% Black or Black British.

Teachers identifying in an ethnic minority group are not equally represented at leadership positions (heads, deputy heads, assistant heads). In 2023/24, 15.9% of White British, 11.1% of White Minorities, 10.0% of Black or Black British and 8.3% of Asian or Asian British teachers were in leadership positions. This has changed over time; in 2010/11, 13.9% of White British, 8.0% of White Minorities, 8.1% of Black or Black British and 6.5% of Asian or Asian British teachers were in leadership positions. For a deeper analysis of ethnicity in teacher leadership positions see School leadership in England 2010 to 2020: characteristics and trends.

Age

The age of the teacher workforce aligns with trends in newly qualified entrants to teaching and changes in retirement policy. Broadly speaking, this was demonstrated by the workforce getting younger between 2010/11 and 2017/18. Since then, older age groups have increased in proportion.

For a deeper analysis of teacher age and experience see School leadership in England 2010 to 2020: characteristics and trends.

Support staff characteristics

This section presents key support staff characteristics. Further breakdowns of staff characteristics (such as by school phase /type and working pattern) are available to download from the data catalogue, or you can create your own tables in our table tool via the green ‘Explore data’ buttons.

We discuss headcount in this section, rather than FTE. This is so that we can consider the characteristics of the workforce without differences in working pattern influencing the figures.

Support staff post

The number of teaching assistants has increased almost every year since 2011/12 (when information on support staff was first collected in the census), from 221,500 to 282,900 in 2023/24 (up 28%). The numbers of teaching assistants and other school support staff are now the highest since the inclusion of support staff in the school workforce census in 2011/12.

Technicians and auxiliary staff have decreased each year since 2013/14 and 2015/16, respectively. The new reporting of school business professionals in 2022/23 primarily reduced administrative staff figures, but decreased technicians and auxiliary staff as well.

More support staff work part-time than is the case for teachers, this results in very different numbers for FTE and headcount. Approximately 9 in 10 auxiliary staff, 8 in 10 teaching assistants, 7 in 10 leadership non-teachers, 6 in 10 administrative staff and school business professionals, and 5 in 10 technicians and other school support staff work part time.

Over two thirds (69%) of teaching assistants work in primary schools, with 15% in secondary schools and 14% in special schools and state-funded alternative provision schools including PRUs. The majority of technicians work in secondary schools, 92%. 

Gender

School support staff are predominantly female, however there are differences by post. 94% of administrative staff are female, 93% of teaching assistants, 90% of other support staff, 86% of auxiliary staff, 82% of leadership non-teachers and 71% of school business professionals. Technicians are more evenly split on gender (58% female).

Ethnicity

The ethnic diversity of the support staff workforce continues to increase. 

Auxiliary staff were the most diverse, with 9.0% identifying as Asian or Asian British, 4.2% as white minority and 3.2% as Black or Black British.

In the 2021 Census, 10.1% of the working age population were Asian or Asian British, 8.8%  white minority groups and 4.4% Black or Black British.

Teaching assistants - the largest support staff group - are shown in the chart below to demonstrate increasing ethnic diversity.

Age

The proportion of support staff aged 40-49 has decreased over time, from 38% in 2010/11 to 27% in 2023/24. Over the same period, the 30-39, 50-59 and 60+ age groups have increased and the youngest age groups of under 25 and 25-29 have remained stable. 

Teaching assistants - the largest support staff group - have seen an increase in the 60+ age group and are shown in the chart below to demonstrate age changes in the workforce.

Pupil to teacher ratios (PTR)

Pupil to teacher ratios (PTRs) are the number of pupils reported in the January School Census divided by the number of teachers reported in the November School Workforce Census. This demonstrates the size of the workforce in relation to the size of the learner population. An increase in PTR means that there are more pupils per teacher. 

The Schools, pupils and their characteristics publication provides class size which is an average of class size as reported by individual schools. This best demonstrates the reality of teaching provision in schools.

There were 20.8 pupils for every one nursery and primary school teacher in 2023/24. This is up slightly from last year, but lower than the peak of 20.9 seen in 2017/18 to 2019/20. 

There were 16.8 pupils for every one secondary school teacher in 2023/24. This is the same as last year, following an upwards trend since 2013/14. 

The primary population peaked in 2018/19 and is projected to continue to drop to the end of the projection period in 2030, whilst the secondary population began rising in 2015/16 and is projected to increase until 2024 then slowly begin to drop (see the Department's pupil projections release).

Entrants, leavers and changes in working pattern

The rates and numbers of entrants to the state-funded teaching profession in England have decreased this year, while the rates and numbers of leavers from to the state-funded teaching profession in England have remained stable. While leavers have returned to pre-pandemic levels, entrants have returned to figures similar to 2021/22.

Each year, the number of teachers entering state-funded schools in England is higher than those leaving. In the most recent year there were 480 FTE more entrants than leavers. This, coupled with existing staff overall reducing their working pattern and increase in unqualified teachers, means that the overall FTE of teachers has increased by 300 FTE.

Further breakdowns of this information, including by age, ethnicity, gender, teaching post, type of entrant/leaver, school type and working pattern are available to download from the data catalogue, or you can create your own tables in our table tool via the green “explore data” buttons.

Entrants

44,000 teachers joined the state-funded school sector for 2023/24, down 3,900 since last year. This represents 1 in 10 (9.7%) of all qualified teachers; the rate and number are comparable to 2021/22.

Newly qualified teachers make up a smaller proportion of entrants this year (41% versus 45% last year). Returners and entrants new to the state funded sector have increased, but deferred newly qualified entrants have decreased. 

Entrants have decreased in both primary and secondary school phases, however the trends in entrant types differ. In primary schools there has been a decrease in all entrant types except entrants new to state funded sector which has a small increase. In secondary schools newly qualified entrants and deferred newly qualified entrants have decreased, but both returners and entrants new to state funded sector have increased. This decrease of newly qualified entrants corresponds with the Initial Teacher Training Census.

Leavers 

43,500 teachers left the state-funded sector in 2022/23, a similar level to the 43,900 last year. This represents 1 in 10 (9.6%) of all qualified teachers. 

The majority (92%) left due to leaving the state-funded sector in England, for example due to a change of career or joining other UK education sectors. The rate of teachers leaving due to retirement continues to decrease.

Teacher retirements in this section of the release relate to teachers who have received a pension award at or before the date they leave service, i.e. they have left service to move directly into retirement. Further information on pension awards made under the Teachers' Pensions Scheme can be found in a later section of this release.

Changes to working pattern

The number of teachers who enter and leave the profession are not the only factors that impact FTE qualified teacher numbers over time; changes in the numbers of hours worked (working pattern) also has an impact.

In 2023/24, 4.8% of qualified teachers increased their working hours and 5.8% decreased their working hours. These changes in working pattern produced a net decrease equivalent to 2,085 FTE qualified teachers since last year. Last year, in 2022/23, these percentages were 4.9% and 5.5% respectively, equating to a net decrease of 1,715 FTE.

Teacher retention

Retention rates for teachers increased for the newest cohort who qualified in 2022, while continuing to decrease for earlier cohorts compared to the equivalent measure last year.

Retention increased during the COVID-19 pandemic which is believed to be due to changing career plans for some individuals. The pandemic period affects figures relating to the data between 2019 and 2021.

  • Almost 9 in 10 (88.7%) teachers who qualified in 2022 are still teaching one year after qualification,
  • Almost three quarters (74.1%) of teachers who qualified three years ago are still teaching, 
  • Over two thirds (67.5%) of teachers who qualified five years ago are still teaching, 
  • Almost 6 in 10 (57.8%) teachers who qualified ten years ago are still teaching.

A longer timeseries is available using the Explore data button below.

Teacher vacancies

Teacher vacancies (full and part time) have more than doubled in the past three years; from 1,100 in November 2020 to 2,800 in November 2023. The rate - which takes into account the fact that the workforce has also increased in this period - has also increased, from 2 per 1,000 teachers in service to 6 per 1,000. Meaning that the increased number of vacancies was only partially offset by the increasing number of teachers in the school workforce.

The number of temporarily filled classroom teacher posts also increased over the same period; from 1,800 in November 2020 to 3,400 in November 2023. This is a rate of 9 posts per 1,000 classroom teachers. In the same period, temporarily filled leadership posts decreased from 340 to 260, a rate of 4 per 1,000 leadership teachers. This is lower than the peak in November 2016.

Further breakdowns of this information, including by school, grade and subject taught (for classroom teachers in secondary schools) are available to download from the data catalogue, or you can create your own tables in our table tool via the green  ‘Explore data’ buttons.

Teacher pay

Each year, the year-on-year comparisons of teacher pay based on School Workforce Census data will not directly reflect annual pay awards for a number of reasons.

While the annual uplifts to pay ranges in the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) for the present academic year are proposed and agreed at a national level, it is for schools to determine pay for teachers on an individual level, with these decisions incorporating schools’ pay flexibilities to deviate from the national framework, as well as teachers’ performance reviews. Such individual decisions may not have been made for all teachers by the point at which the census occurs. Therefore, some schools report data reflecting the latest pay review, but some report that of the previous academic year (without the outcome of the latest pay review applied). This is likely to be more common this year, given that the consultation process and publication of the STPCD concluded 13th October. This was later than in previous years and two weeks before the Census date, which may have delayed pay decisions more than in other years. For further information about the process by which the pay award is agreed and how this relates to the School Workforce Census collection, please see the methodology. 

This year alternative estimates of teacher pay have been published as ad hoc statistics in Median teacher pay using teacher pension scheme (TPS) data. This uses administrative TPS data which is collected in the process of managing the contributions of teachers and their employers to pensions. Unlike the SWC, which provides a snapshot of data on the census date, the TPS data is retrospectively updated with any pay decisions that were backdated to before the census date in November each year. The ad hoc publication is intended to provide an estimate that is more representative of teachers' pay after the award is fully implemented. We welcome feedback from users on the quality and relevance of these estimates to inform future plans on teacher pay statistics, please see the “Contact us” section of either publication.

In addition, each year there are workforce changes which mean comparisons between years are not comparing like-for-like. For example, each year teachers retire and are replaced by newly qualified teachers. These more experienced teachers, many of whom will have been in leadership roles, will have been on higher salaries than those who are new to teaching. 

Note that salaries are not adjusted for inflation over time. 

The average (median) teacher FTE salary reported in November 2023, by grade: 

  • Classroom teacher average salary was £43,100.
  • Other leadership teacher (excluding headteachers) average salary was £60,500.
  • Head teacher average salary was £75,300.

For further information on school and LA expenditure, including spend on teaching, please see the latest expenditure publication.

Average salaries vary by teacher grade, school phase and school type. For example, for classroom teachers the average (median) salaries were:

  • £41,300 in nursery and primary schools
  • £44,900 in secondary schools
  • £43,100 in special schools and state-funded alternative provision schools including PRUs.

There are gender differences in the grades held by teachers; female teachers are less likely than their male counterparts to be in leadership positions. Therefore this analysis considers the teacher grade when comparing gender differences in average pay.

In nursery and primary schools, female classroom teacher salaries were previously higher than male however this gap has now closed. 

Male and female teacher salaries are now broadly similar in most cases, apart from head teacher salaries in nursery and primary (males earn 3% more), head teacher salaries in secondary (males earn 4% more), and other leadership in secondary (males earn 2% more). 

Teacher qualifications

Data was collected on qualifications at Level 4 and above (post-A level equivalent) for 511,950 teachers out of the 513,877 teachers (headcount) in service in 2023/24. Of which, 96% (489,319) were qualified to the level of degree, Bachelor of Education, PGCE or higher. 

Subjects taught and specialist teachers in secondary schools

Timetabling information collected on the curriculum delivered is provided by a large sample of secondary schools. They are asked to provide information on a typical week in their school. This is weighted to produce national level figures. Where teachers have both timetabling information and qualifications data these can be combined to show whether teachers have relevant post-A level qualifications in the subjects they are teaching. For further details, please see the methodology section. 

3 in 5 secondary school teaching hours (64%) were for English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of mathematics, English, all science subjects (including computing), modern foreign languages, history and geography. This has been the same proportion since 2020/21 and up from 54% in 2011/12.

Almost 9 in 10 (86%) of hours taught in EBacc subjects were taught by a teacher with a relevant post-A level qualification. This varies by individual EBacc subject but in each case, the majority of hours taught are by a teacher with a relevant qualification.

Over two thirds (70%) of secondary school subject teachers taught at least one EBacc subject.

Teacher sickness absence

In the 2022/23 academic year, 66.2% of teachers took sickness absence, with an average of 8.0 days of sickness for each of these teachers. 

These figures relate to sickness absence only and do not include non-attendance due to, for example, isolation and shielding due to COVID-19, or for reasons such as maternity leave and career breaks.

The Office for National Statistics have published statistics on sickness absence in the UK which show that there has been an increase in sickness absence since 2020, and the highest levels of sickness absence are in female workers, plus those in caring, leisure and service occupations. Whilst not directly comparable due to differences in methodology, this broadly aligns with what we see reported in the school workforce census.

Teachers' Pensions Scheme

In addition to identifying teachers who left service due to retirement, it is possible to identify teachers and ex-teachers who started to receive pension benefits from the Teachers’ Pensions Scheme (TPS). These benefits may be awarded sometime after the teacher has left service, may be awarded during service, and information includes pensions from outside of the state-funded school sector, such as further and higher education establishments who are members of the TPS. The number of awards may be revised for each past year as late applications for pension benefits are processed. Therefore, these figures differ to figures presented of leavers due to retirement.

The number of people starting to receive teacher pensions under the TPS each year is higher than the number of teachers retiring from service (for reasons explained above), yet trends remain the same. In the financial year 2011-12, 21,620 teachers received their first award of pension benefits, this has decreased each year to 7,610 in 2022-23.

This change coincides with a period of rising state pension age, particularly for women (76% of teachers are women). In 2010 the state pension age for women began increasing from 60 until it equalised with men at 65 in 2018, it then increased to 66 in 2020.

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Methodology

Find out how and why we collect, process and publish these statistics.

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These accredited official statistics have been independently reviewed by the Office for Statistics Regulation (OSR). They comply with the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics. Accredited official statistics are called National Statistics in the Statistics and Registration Service Act 2007.

Accreditation signifies their compliance with the authority's Code of Practice for Statistics which broadly means these statistics are:

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OSR sets the standards of trustworthiness, quality and value in the Code of Practice for Statistics that all producers of official statistics should adhere to.

You are welcome to contact us directly with any comments about how we meet these standards. Alternatively, you can contact OSR by emailing regulation@statistics.gov.uk or via the OSR website.

Contact us

If you have a specific enquiry about School workforce in England statistics and data:

Teachers and teaching statistics team

Email: schoolworkforce.statistics@education.gov.uk
Contact name: Tony Clarke
Telephone: 0774 7767329

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