Reporting Year 2021

School workforce in England

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This release is largely based on the School Workforce Census. The census 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.

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.

The latest data relates to November 2021 and so this is the second release in the series to relate to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.


Headline facts and figures - 2021

  • The FTE of teachers has increased by 4,400 since last year.
  • The rate of entrants to teaching continues to be higher than that of teachers leaving the profession, meaning an overall increase to the number of teachers in England.
  • Entrants to and leavers from teaching are up from last year, but down compared to pre-pandemic levels. 
  • School workforce ethnic diversity is increasing, but the teaching workforce continues to be predominantly female.
  • Pupil to teacher ratios are similar to last year: 20.6 pupils per teacher in nurseries and primary schools, 16.7 in secondary schools, and 6.3 in special and PRU schools.
  • 3 in 5 teaching hours were spent teaching English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of mathematics, English, sciences (including computer science), history, geography and modern languages.

Explore data and files

All data used in this release is available as open data for download


Open data

Browse and download individual open data files from this release in our data catalogue


Guidance

Learn more about the data files used in this release using our online guidance


Create your own tables

You can view featured tables that we have built for you, or create your own tables from the open data using our table tool


All supporting files

All supporting files from this release are listed for individual download below:

List of all supporting files

The size of the school workforce

Within this section we primarily discuss FTE figures as opposed to headcounts. FTE best reflects the varied working patterns that the workforce may have. 

As at November 2021 (2021/22), 968,100 full-time equivalent people (FTE) were working in state-funded schools in England. Of these, nearly half (48%) were teachers.

Teachers

The number of FTE teachers continues to increase to 465,500. Since last year, FTE increased by 4,400 (1%) and since 2010, FTE increased by 24,200. Headcount of teachers also increased; by 3,900 to 512,000 in the latest year. This year sees the largest FTE and headcount numbers of teachers since the school workforce census began in 2010/11.

The type of school in which teachers worked was split evenly between nurseries/primary and secondary schools; 48% (222,326) of teachers worked in nurseries and primary schools, 46% (213,567) in secondary schools, 6% (26,003) in special or PRU schools. Less than 1% (3,631) were centrally employed staff.

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.

Support staff

Support staff includes teaching assistants, administrative staff, auxiliary staff, technicians and other supporting staff roles. Information on support staff was collected in the school workforce census from 2011/12.

The number of FTE school support staff increased over the last two years, from 495,500 in 2019/20 to 502,600 in 2021/22. Since last year, FTE increased by 1,000 (less than 1%). This has mainly been driven by an increase of 4,400 teaching assistants, and a decrease of 2,000 technicians since 2020/21.

Most support staff work in nurseries and primary schools; 56% in 2021/22.

Teacher characteristics

Gender

The teaching workforce of England is consistently predominantly female; 75.5% as at November 2021 (2021/22), up from 74.4% in 2010/11.

Male teachers are more likely to work in secondary schools than nurseries and primary schools: 14.1% of nursery and primary school teachers are male, up from 12.7% in 2010/11. 35.3% of secondary school teachers are male, down from 37.8% in 2010/11.

Female teachers are less likely than their male counterparts to be in leadership positions (heads, deputy heads, assistant heads), however this difference is reducing over time. In 2021/22, 69.4% of leadership teachers were female, up from 65.9% in 2010/11. This compares to 76.8% of classroom teachers in 2021/22 and 75.7% 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 14.9% of teachers identifying as belonging to an ethnic minority group in November 2021 (2021/22), up from 11.2% in 2010/11. Within these percentages, white minorities accounted for 5.2% of teachers in 2021/22 and 4.9% in 2010/11. In particular, the fastest growing ethnicity group in the teacher workforce are those who identify Asian or Asian British.

In the 2011 Census, 21.5% of the working age population of England identified as belonging to an ethnic minority group, of which 6.6% were white minorities.

Teachers identifying in an ethnic minority group are not equally represented at leadership positions (heads, deputy heads, assistant heads). In 2021/22, 15.3% of White British, 8.1% of Asian or Asian British and 9.3% of Black or Black British teachers were in leadership positions. This has changed over time; in 2010/11, 13.9% of White British, 6.5% of Asian or Asian British and 8.1% of Black or Black 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 teacher workforce was getting younger, with this trend peaking in 2017/18. Since then, however, the older age groups are increasing in proportion. This may be as a result of changing retirement policy.

Age of the teacher workforce corresponds with entrants figures. For example, the percentage of teachers aged under 25 was highest in 2015/16 at 6.4%. This was in the same period that entrants numbers were highest in 2014 to 2016.

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

Support staff characteristics

Post

The number of full-time equivalent (FTE) support staff has increased for the past two years, primarily driven by the number of teaching assistants (275,800, up 3.9% from 2019/20).

Administrative and auxiliary staff FTE peaked in 2015/16, technicians peaked in 2013/14, and both teaching assistants and other school support staff peaked this year.

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

Gender

The support staff workforce of England is predominantly female; 89.0% as at November 2021 (2021/22), higher than the make-up of teachers. Females account for the majority of staff within each support staff post, with only technicians seeing a more even gender balance; 52.1% female, 47.9% male.

Ethnicity

The ethnic diversity of the support staff workforce continues to increase. Auxiliary staff were the most diverse, with 17.9% from an ethnic minority group in 2021/22, up from 12.9% a decade earlier.  

In the 2011 Census, 21.5% of the working age population of England identified as belonging to an ethnic minority group, of which 6.6% were white minorities.

This information is available by ethnicity, post and other characteristics within the accompanying data files.

Age

The proportion of support staff that are 50 years old or more has increased to 44.0% in 2021/22, up from 35.1% in 2011/12. All type of posts have seen the proportions of staff 50 and over increase.

Teaching assistants - the largest group of support staff - have the lowest proportion of staff 50 and over, however this is increasing (to 38.2% in 2021/22, from 29.0% in 2011/12). The proportion of teaching assistants aged under 40 has also increased, to 34.0% in 2021/22, up from 30.7% in 2011/12.

Pupil to teacher ratios (PTR)

Pupil to teacher ratios 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. A decrease in PTR means that there are fewer 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 20.6 pupils for every one nursery and primary school teacher in 2021/22. This is the same as last year, but a decrease since 2017/18 to 2019/20. Increasing teacher numbers and changes in the pupil population has caused this; the number of pupils has decreased following rises between 2009 and 2018. The primary school pupil population is projected to decrease until 2026. 

There were 16.7 pupils for every one secondary school teacher in 2021/22; similar to last year but following an increasing trend since 2013/14. The secondary school pupil population began rising in 2016 and is projected to continue increasing until 2024. The increase in pupils has been offset by an increase in teachers.

Entrants, leavers and changes in working pattern

A revision has been made to entrants and leavers figures for the 2020/21 year (November 2020 census). Figures had previously shown that the retention rate for teachers who had been in the workforce for 1 year or less had decreased between 2018 and 2019 entrants. The correct figures show that this was actually an increase in line with the other length of service groups. This was as a result of a data processing error. The figures shown within this publication are the most accurate and up to date figures available. For further details, please see the methodology section. 

The rates of teachers entering and leaving the profession have decreased over the past three years, with the 2019/20 year (based on the November 2020 census) particularly low. This is believed to have been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic changing career plans for some people.

Analysis by age, ethnicity, gender, teaching post, type of entrant/leaver, school type and working pattern are available via the green Explore Data buttons.

Entrants

44,000 teachers joined the state-funded school sector for 2021/22, up by 2,200 since last year, but otherwise lower than previous years. This represents 1 in 10 (10%) of all qualified teachers. Half of entrants were newly qualified teachers and a third had returned to teaching in state-funded schools after a period away, for example teaching in another country, in a private school or taking a career break.

Leavers 

36,300 teachers left the state-funded sector in 2020/21, up by 4,000 since last year but otherwise lower than previous years. This represents less than 1 in 10 (8%) of all qualified teachers. The majority (88%) 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. Further information on type of retirement, based on pension awards can be found in the supporting open data files for this release. Pensions data includes teachers who claimed before or after they leave service.

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 2021/22, 4% of qualified teachers increased their working hours and 5% decreased their working hours. These changes in working pattern produced a decrease equivalent to 2,160 FTE qualified teachers between 2020 and 2021. Last year, in 2020/21, these percentages were 5% and 6% respectively, equating to a decrease of 2,300 FTE.

Teacher retention

A revision has been made to entrants and leavers figures for the 2020/21 year (November 2020 census). The main effect of this is that figures had previously shown that the retention rate for teachers who had been in the workforce for 1 year or less had decreased between 2018 and 2019 entrants. The correct figures show that this was actually an increase in line with the other length of service groups. This was as a result of a data processing error. The figures shown within this publication are the most accurate and up to date figures available. For further details, please see the methodology section. 

  • Almost 9 in 10 (87.5%) teachers who qualified in 2020 were still teaching one year after qualification,
  • Almost 8 in 10 (77.0%) teachers who qualified three years ago are still teaching, 
  • Almost 7 in 10 (68.8%) teachers who qualified five years ago are still teaching, 
  • Almost 6 in 10 (59.7%) teachers who qualified ten years ago are still teaching.

Teacher pay

The average (mean) teacher FTE salary reported in November 2021 increased from last year: 

  • Classroom teacher average salary was £39,000, an increase of 1.4% since 2020/21.
  • Leadership teacher (excluding headteachers) average salary was £57,100, an increase of 1.2%.
  • Headteacher average salary was £74,100, an increase of 0.8%.

Each year, the increase in the average pay of teachers may vary slightly from the headline pay award, due to factors including: compositional changes in the workforce; schools’ use of pay flexibilities; and reported pay relating to the previous academic year due to the census collection point in November each year.

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

Comparisons between years should not be used as an indicator of pay awards as they do not compare like for like. For example, in each year teachers retire and are replaced by newly qualified teachers. The older teachers, many of whom will have been in leadership roles, will have been on higher salaries than those who are new to teaching. Also, salaries are not adjusted for inflation over time.

Average salaries vary by teacher grade, school phase and school type. For example, for classroom teachers:

  • The average salary of a nursery and primary classroom teacher was £37,500
  • The average salary of a secondary classroom teacher was £40,400
  • The average salary of a PRU and special school classroom teacher was £39,200.
  • Salaries were higher on average in LA maintained schools than academies. The exception was headteachers in academy primary schools. 

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 grade of teacher when comparing gender differences in average pay. 

In nursery and primary schools, female classroom teacher salaries have consistently been higher than male classroom teacher salaries. There is also a gender difference in headteachers in nurseries and primary schools, but within other leadership grades, pay is similar.

Male teacher salaries are otherwise higher than female teacher salaries; secondary classroom teachers, secondary leadership (excluding headteachers) and headteachers in nursery, primary and secondary schools.

Teacher qualifications

To reduce burden during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and LAs were not required to provide information on teacher qualifications in the 2020 census. The data was collected in the 2021 census, however this requires further analysis prior to publication in order to provide assurance on the quality of the information presented. This section shall be updated to include teacher qualifications once the process is complete. If you would like to be informed when this information has been updated, sign up for email alerts here.

In total, 499,400 teachers had qualification data provided for the 2019/20 reporting year.

Of the 500,800 teachers (headcount) in service in 2019/20, almost all (477,700, 95%) were qualified to degree, Bachelor of Education, PGCE or higher.

Less than 1% (1,700) had a non-UK teaching qualification.

Subjects taught in secondary schools

To reduce burden during the COVID-19 pandemic, schools and LAs were not required to provide information on teacher qualifications in the 2020 census. The data was collected in the 2021 census, however this requires further analysis prior to publication in order to provide assurance on the quality of the information presented. This section shall be updated to include specialist teaching once the process is complete. If you would like to be informed when this information has been updated, sign up for email alerts here.

Data is collected on the curriculum taught in secondary schools.

3 in 5 teaching hours (64%) were spent teaching English Baccalaureate (EBacc) subjects of mathematics, English, all science subjects (including computing), modern foreign languages, history and geography. This is the same proportion as in 2020.

Over two thirds (74%) of secondary school teachers taught at least one EBacc subject.

Teacher vacancies

The number of full and part time teacher vacancies in November 2021 (2021/22) increased to 1,600 in 2021/22 following small decreases in the previous two years. Whilst number increases, the rate remains similar to recent years at 3 per 1,000 teachers as it is offset by the increasing number of teachers in the school workforce.

The number of temporary filled teacher posts increased by 100 to 2,200 in 2021/22, a rate of 5 posts per 1,000 teachers. Both number and rate of temporary filled posts have been decreasing since 2016/17.

Teacher sickness absence

Sickness absence data collected in the November 2021 census relating to the 2020/21 year is affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It is not possible to draw accurate comparisons with previous time periods due to factors including partially limited school openings, delivery of education via virtual means in some cases, and potential differences in the recording of sickness absence. The figures relate to sickness absence only and do not include non-attendance due to, for example, isolation and shielding.

To reduce burden during the pandemic, schools were not required to provide information on teacher absences for 2019/20.

Data on school workforce attendance during the pandemic has been collected via the Department's education settings survey.

In 2020/21, 45% of teachers took sickness absence, with an average of 8.6 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.

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Methodology

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

Official statistics

These are Official Statistics and have been produced in line with the Code of Practice for Official Statistics.

This can be broadly interpreted to mean that these statistics are:

  • managed impartially and objectively in the public interest
  • meet identified user needs
  • produced according to sound methods
  • well explained and readily accessible

Find out more about the standards we follow to produce these statistics through our Standards for official statistics published by DfE guidance.

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

Teachers and teaching statistics team

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schoolworkforce.statistics@education.gov.uk

Telephone: Tony Clarke
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