Methodology

Further education workforce

Published

Summary

This is the first release in the series of statistics on the further education workforce in England. The information in this release is based on data collected in the Further Education Workforce Data Collection (FEWDC) and covers the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

Scope of the data collection

The information in this release is based on data collected in the Further Education Workforce Data Collection (FEWDC) and covers the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

The data collection was split into three parts, which could be completed separately by further education providers.

1. Further education workforce

This part of the data collection relates to staff employed by further education providers. It collects data on staff characteristics of age, gender, ethnicity and disability. It also collects information about staff members' main contract, for example annual salary/hourly rate, contract type and working patterns. Only information about the main contract is collected, meaning that if staff have multiple contracts with the same provider, we do not receive information about them all. 

Information was collected for staff with one or more contracts of employment during the 2021 to 2022 academic year.

2. Further education vacancies

This part of the data collection related to teaching and management/leadership vacancies across the whole academic year. It collected information such as the presence of the vacancy and whether or not it was filled or unfilled by the end of the year.

3. Governors

This part of the data collection collected data from General Further Education Colleges (GFECs) and sixth form colleges about the size and characteristics of their governing bodies. Private sector public funded providers, and other public providers were not in scope for this part of the collection, unlike parts 1 and 2.

Providers in scope

A total of 1,657 further education providers were in scope of the FEWDC. Providers were in scope if they receive funding through funding models such as 16-19 (excluding Apprenticeships) funding, adult skills funding, and skills bootcamp funding, and do not return the Schools Workforce Census or the Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) staff record. The providers in scope are therefore:

  • General Further Education Colleges, including specialist and tertiary providers (GFECs),
  • Sixth form colleges,
  • Independent Training Providers (ITPs) – named “private sector public funded providers” in this publication,
  • Local Authorities, Third Sector and Voluntary organisations – named “other public funded providers” in this publication. 

Note, only GFECs and sixth form colleges (231 in total) were in scope for the governor part of the data collection. 

The following providers are not in scope for any parts of the collection:

  • Employer providers,
  • Schools and academies who return the Schools Workforce Census,
  • Higher Education institutions who return the HESA staff record,
  • Organisations not in receipt of Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) funding.

The data provided in the publication is for England only. However, a small number of providers in the collection are based in Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland, and deliver provision for English students. These providers were in receipt of the funding outlined above, therefore were considered in scope. 

Staff roles in scope

Providers were asked to submit data for an individual if they had one or more contracts of employment with the provider during the 2021 to 2022 academic year. Providers did not need to submit data for an individual in a support role that is not directly supporting learning, e.g. catering, maintenance or other such service support roles. They also did not need to submit data for the following types of staff:

  • Agency staff
  • Self-employed or freelance staff
  • Staff working for a provider through an intermediary, such as a personal service company.

Staff role job titles or job position names vary between different providers. Where provider’s job roles did not match the list of roles exactly, providers were asked to select the closest available option. 

Providers were asked to provide a “Main Role” for each staff member and then up to five “Sub Roles”. This publication only includes data information about a staff member’s Main Role. 

We assigned each staff member’s Main Role to one of five “Main Role Types”: Leader, Manager, Teacher, Support and Admin. See definitions for a list of Main Role which are included in each "Main Role Type". 

Data collection, processing and cleaning

Providers will have different methods for storing data on their employees. Some may use a combination of paper based and electronic files. Others may use a management information system (MIS).  The further education workforce data required from providers is determined in advance of the data collection. This allows suppliers of further education MIS and providers themselves to incorporate any changes into their local systems.

For a full list of the technical specification, the data items collected from further education providers, and automated data validation steps, see the published guidance and specifications.

Stage 1

In September, the data collection opens, and stays open for three months. The data collection collects data for staff members employed by the provider during the previous academic year. 

Whilst some further education organisations such as Independent Training Providers (ITPs) may only have a few members of staff, some large colleges may have thousands of staff. It is for this reason there are two distinct methods available for making the data return:

  • Online form: mostly used by providers without MIS,
  • Staff data desktop application: mostly used by providers with MIS.

Stage 2

Once further education providers have successfully uploaded their data they can review and inspect their data. There are a range of automated data validation checks which flag where the data provided has either failed to meet the standards required (an error) or does not conform to what was expected (a warning).

Once further education providers have resolved errors and warnings, they approve their data. This is  then sent to the Department. 

Stage 3

Once the collection has closed, final databases are created, which allows the Department’s statisticians to prepare for publication. At this stage data provided is investigated by statisticians for any anomalies not picked up by the validation checks when the data was uploaded by providers.

Stage 4

Following data checks and quality assurance, the publication can be released. This signals the availability of the data for use by the department, further education providers, the general public (including in reply to Freedom of Information requests) and to independent analysts and researchers. 

Symbols used in the data files

x = not available

This information has not been collected or there are no estimates available at this level of aggregation.

z = not applicable

This is normally where a statistic cannot be produced. For example where a denominator is not available to produce a percentage. 

c = confidential

Where presentation of data would disclose confidential information, for example being able to identify details about a single respondent, this data must be suppressed and given this marker to maintain confidentiality clauses. In the previous standard there was a separate category for suppression. Discussion with ONS Statistical Disclosure Control Unit confirmed that reasons for suppression would either be for confidentiality purposes or low reliability, and these are now separately identified in this list of symbols.

u = low reliability 

This indicates observations/values for which the user should be aware of the low quality, for example where values of statistical significance have been calculated.

Size of the further education workforce

Staff working across multiple providers

Some staff may work across multiple further education providers. At the moment, we are not able to determine which staff members do this as we do not have individual unique identifiers. Therefore estimates for the size of the further education workforce will include some double counting for the staff who work across multiple providers. From anecdotal knowledge, this double counting is believed to be small.

Producing national estimates

To account for further education providers in scope that did not supply data in the FEWDC, we have scaled up the returned data by role and provider type using the percentage of providers that returned data to produce national estimates. In future years, as a higher proportion of providers return data to the collection, we expect our estimate of the size of the further education workforce to become more accurate.

We have only scaled national workforce figures. This is because providers may operate over multiple regions, so scaling at regional level could be misleading. 

As an example of how estimates were calculated; in 2021/22, 187 GFECs were in scope, and 97.3% of these provided data in the FEWDC. Those 97.3% reported 26,894 administrative staff. We multiplied this figure to create a 100% return rate estimate, which gave an estimated GFEC administrative staff number of 27,633. Rounding this figure to the nearest hundred (to indicate a level of uncertainty of the figure) gives an estimate of 27,600 administrative staff in GFECs.

This calculation is made for all staff types and providers. The sector total for each staff and provider type is then summed to generate a national estimate for the number of staff employed in the further education sector. 

Characteristics of the further education workforce

Ethnicity

Information on ethnicity was not obtained for 13% of staff in 2021/2. Percentages exclude staff members who have chosen not to share their ethnicity. This is because they form a large amount of the overall figures and excluding allows us to focus on data obtained without it skewing the figures. 

Disability

Information on disability status was not obtained for 16% of staff in 2021/2022. Percentages in the disability status of staff section exclude staff members who have chosen not to share their disability status. This is because they form a large amount of the overall figures and excluding allows us to focus on data obtained without it skewing the figures. 

Producing national estimates

As with the “size of the further education workforce” section, figures have been scaled to account for providers in scope of the FEWDC who did supply a data return. 

As an example of how estimates were calculated; in 2021/22, 187 GFECs were in scope, and 97.3% of these provided data in the FEWDC. Those 97.3% reported 7,258 administrative male staff. We multiplied this figure to create a 100% return rate estimate, which gave an estimated GFEC administrative male staff number of 7,457. Rounding this figure to the nearest ten (to indicate a level of uncertainty of the figure) gives an estimate of 7,460 administrative male staff in GFECs.

This calculation is made for all characteristics, staff types and providers. The sector total for each characteristic, staff and provider type is then summed to generate a national estimate for the number of staff employed in the further education sector. 

Subjects taught by teaching staff

Providers were asked to report the main subject taught by each teacher. If a staff member teaches more than one subject, the main subject area taught should be determined by where the most time is spent.

Providers were asked to select subjects from a list of 59 subjects. This list included an “other” category, where providers could allocate teachers who were teaching a subject other than the named ones listed. In the 2021/22 academic year, 9.2% of teachers were allocated to the “other” category. We are working to improve the list of subjects with the aim of reducing the proportion of teachers allocated to the “other” category.

For a list of subjects that were defined as academic, vocational or other subject type, see the definitions section. 

Producing national estimates

As with the “size of the further education workforce” section, figures have been scaled to account for providers in scope of the FEWDC who did supply a data return. 

As an example of how estimates were calculated; in 2021/22, 187 GFECs were in scope, and 97.3% of these provided data in the FEWDC. Those 97.3% reported 88 staff with a main subject taught of physics. We multiplied this figure to create a 100% return rate estimate, which gave an estimated GFEC physics number of 90. Rounding this figure to the nearest ten (to indicate a level of uncertainty of the figure) gives an estimate of 90 staff teaching physics as their main subject in GFECs.

This calculation is made for all subjects and providers. The sector total for each subject and provider type is then summed to generate a national estimate for the number of teachers of each subject in further education. 

Working patterns and contract types

Full time equivalent (FTE) is the proportion of a week that a staff member works. E.g. FTE = 1 means that  a staff member works the full working hours in a week. FTE = 0.5 means that a staff member will work half the working hours in a week. 

We have used the following definition to determine if a staff member is classed as full time or part time for all permanent and fixed term staff:

Number of contracts at provider

Contract

Working pattern
1Weekly hours contracted to work > 35 or FTE >= 1Full time
More than oneWeekly hours contracted to work >= 35Full time
1Weekly hours contracted to work < 35 and FTE <1 Part time
More than oneWeekly hours contracted to work <= 35Part time

We have not allocated staff on zero-hour, variable hour or other contract types to either full time/part time. This is because they may work different hours each week.

Contract types

Providers were asked to report the type of contract each staff member was employed with. This was reported for a staff member's main role only. The following contract types could be selected:

  • Permanent
  • Fixed term
  • Variable Hours
  • Zero hours
  • Other contract type

Producing national estimates

As with the “size of the further education workforce” section, figures have been scaled to account for providers in scope of the FEWDC who did supply a data return. 

As an example of how estimates were calculated; in 2021/22, 187 GFECs were in scope, and 97.3% of these provided data in the FEWDC. Those 97.3% reported 16,048 administrative staff on a full time contract. We multiplied this figure to create a 100% return rate estimate, which gave an estimated GFEC administrative full time staff number of 16,489. Rounding this figure to the nearest hundred (to indicate a level of uncertainty of the figure) gives an estimate of 16,500 administrative staff on a full time contract in GFECs.

This calculation is made for all working patterns, contracts, staff and providers. The sector total for each is then summed to generate a national estimate for the number of teachers of each subject in further education. 

Further education staff pay

General Further Education Colleges (GFECs) and sixth form colleges

More than 97%  of GFECs and sixth form colleges returned data to the data collection. This means that our estimates of the median salary for roles in these provider types are expected to be close to the true median salary of the workforce.

Private Sector Public Funded and Other Public Funded providers

Other public funded providers and private sector public funded provider types have a lower proportion of providers returning data to the collection. This means that our estimates of the median salary of the workforce for these provider types will be a less accurate estimate of the true median salary of the workforce in these settings.

For private sector public funded providers and other public funded providers, the London region has the lowest proportion of providers returning data. However London is the region with the most number of these providers. Therefore our estimate of median salary based on the responding colleges for these provider types will be proportionally skewed by the other regions where pay bands are often lower.

Staff in scope in salary calculations

We have provided the median and mean annual salary for each role in further education providers. We have not attempted to estimate the salary of staff working in the providers that have not returned data in the collection.

Staff who are employed on permanent or fixed term contracts usually work a fixed number of hours per week. This allows us to generate an average annual salary for these individuals with more confidence. Staff employed on zero hours, variable hours, or other contract types often work different hours each week. Limitations in the way the data was collected from providers means that making an accurate estimate of the annual salary for these staff members is not possible. We are working on adapting the collection in future years to ensure that we can calculate more accurate estimates of salaries for these individuals.

As well as this, throughout the whole publication, median salaries are only presented for full-time staff. Changes to the data collection this academic year should allow us to present salaries from part-time staff when we publish again next year.

This means that we are reporting median salary information for 103,800 (57%) of staff members who had data returned for them in the collection.

We have assessed the characteristics of staff  in each role who work full-time and are employed on permanent or fixed term contracts, compared to all staff we have data returned for.  

  • In all roles, males are more likely to work full-time than part-time. For example there is an 8 percentage point (pp) difference between the number of males working full-time and who are on a permanent or fixed term contract, compared to all staff in the collection. 

 We have not attempted to adjust for this in our calculations. The estimates of median salaries for full-time staff contains proportionally more males than females, compared to all staff in the data collection. Therefore our estimates of full-time salaries are not an accurate estimate of salaries for all staff. 

Median salaries are shown for full-time staff only, part-time staff are not included. This means any staff working part-time in the provider, and part-time in industry would not be included in this analysis. 

Unfilled teaching and management/leadership vacancies

In a separate module of the further education workforce data collection, providers were asked to report how many vacancies they had during the previous academic year. 51.4% of providers returned data. We have not attempted to scale these figures up to provide an overall estimate due to the low coverage and uncertainty around how representative this 51.4% of providers are compared to the national picture.

If a provider responded to the vacancy data collection, but did not respond to the main workforce data collection, they not included in vacancy calculation. This is because we determine how many staff are working in the provider type from the main workforce data collection. This only applied to a small number of providers. 

Further education providers were asked to report details on vacancies for teacher vacancies (by subject) and management/leadership vacancies. They were asked to report the number of vacancies of these roles during the 2021/22 academic year and the number that were filled by the end of the year.

From this, we were able to determine the number of unfilled vacancies, and therefore able to determine an unfilled vacancy rate. An example of the rate calculation is as follows:

Number of maths teachers in the provider type3,233
Number of maths vacancies through the year in provider type234
Number of maths vacancies that were filled by the end of the year in provider type189
Number of unfilled maths vacancies in provider type234 - 189 = 45
Unfilled maths vacancy rate in provider type45/(3233 + 45) = 1.3727….per 100 = 1.4 per 100 (rounded to 1 decimal place)

Governors

GFECs and sixth form colleges were asked to supply data about the size and characteristics of their governing bodies. Of the colleges in scope for the the 2021/22 mandatory Further Education College Governor Data Collection, 87.9% provided data. This is lower than the proportion of colleges that returned data on the staff workforce data collection.

Colleges were asked to report demographics of their governors, including age, ethnicity, gender and disability status. As well as this, they were asked to report how many vacancies they had for governor positions during the previous academic year.

Producing national estimates

To account for further education providers in scope that did not supply governors data in the FEWDC, we have scaled up the returned data by provider type using the percentage of providers that returned data to produce national estimates. In future years, as a higher proportion of providers return data to the collection, we expect our estimate of the size of the further education workforce to become more accurate.

We have only scaled national workforce figures. This is because providers may operate over multiple regions, so scaling at regional level could be misleading. 

As an example of how estimates were calculated; in 2021/22, 88.2% of GFECs provided governor data in the FEWDC. Those 88.2% reported 2,672 governors. We multiplied this figure to create a 100% return rate estimate, which gave an estimated GFEC governor number of 3,028. Rounding this figure to the nearest hundred (to indicate a level of uncertainty of the figure) gives an estimate of 3,000 governors in GFECs.

This calculation is made for both GFECs and sixth form colleges. The sector total for each provider type is then summed to generate a national estimate for the number of governors in the in-scope further education sector. 

Unfilled vacancy rates

GFECs and sixth form colleges were asked to report the number of governor vacancies in their governing body during the 2021/22 academic year, and the number of vacancies that were filled by the end of the year.

From this, we were able to determine the number of unfilled governor vacancies by the end of the academic year, and therefore able to determine an unfilled vacancy rate. An example of the rate calculation is as follows:

Total number of governors in the provider type120
Total  number of vacancies through the year in provider type30
Total number of vacancies that were filled by the end of the year in provider type19
Total number of unfilled governor vacancies in provider type30 - 19 = 11
Unfilled governor vacancy rate in provider type11/(120+11) = 8.4 per 100 (rounded to 1 decimal place)

Definitions and general notes

The files in this publication shows further education staff in five groups, teachers, support staff, admin staff, management staff and leadership staff. Where gender and age is unknown, this is shown as its own category in breakdowns provided. Where ethnicity or disability status is unknown, figures by these factors do not add to totals provided.

In addition, when reviewing the files, please note the following:

We preserve confidentiality. The Code of Practice for Official Statistics requires we take reasonable steps to ensure that our published or disseminated statistics protect confidentiality.
Numbers are not roundedSome figures such as pay or sickness absence may be suppressed at school level or higher levels of aggregation to prevent disclosure of sensitive information about individuals. 
We have adopted symbols to help with identification.Symbols are used in the files are based upon general Office of National Statistics guidance

Definitions of main roles

Leader: A leader is regarded as a staff member who has senior management responsibility. This can include formal governance and director responsibilities. They can be responsible for direction and vision or driving strategic intent. Main Roles which would determine if a staff member was a “Leader”:

  • Assistant Head
  • Assistant Principal
  • CEO
  • Director
  • Executive Head Teacher
  • Managing Director
  • Principal/Head Teacher
  • Senior Manager
  • Vice-Principal.

Manager: A staff member responsible for providing supervision and staff support. Responsibilities can include department lead and administering staff members. Main Roles which would determine if a staff member was a “Manager”:

  • Curriculum Lead
  • Faculty Lead
  • Functional Manager
  • Head of Department
  • Programme Lead Quality Assurance Manager.

Teacher: A member of staff with teaching responsibilities. Main Roles which would determine if a staff member was a “Teacher”:

  • Advanced Practitioner
  • Instructor
  • Lecturer
  • Practitioner
  • Teacher
  • Trainer
  • Tutor.

Support: A member of support staff in any function across the organisation. Main Roles which would determine if a staff member was classed as “Support”

  • Assessor
  • Behaviour Specialist
  • Bilingual Support Assistant
  • Careers Advisor
  • Counsellor
  • Cover Supervisor
  • Education Welfare Officer
  • Higher Level Teaching Assistant
  • Language Support
  • Learning Facilitator
  • Learning Mentor
  • Learning Support
  • Learning Support Assistant (SEN)
  • Librarian
  • Pastoral Support
  • SEN Co-ordinator
  • Sport Coach
  • Teaching Assistant/Support
  • Technician
  • Therapist.

Administration: Staff members who support the delivery of further education provision in an administrative capacity. Main Roles which would determine if a staff member was classed as “Admin”. 

  • Administrator
  • Admissions
  • Apprenticeships Administrator
  • Bursar
  • Business Manager
  • Clerk
  • Communication Support
  • Data Analyst
  • DSL and Safeguarding Office
  • Employer Engagement
  • Examinations Administrator
  • External Grants and Funding
  • Finance Officer
  • Human Resources (HR)
  • ICT Network Manager
  • Information Services (MIS)
  • Legal
  • Marketing Administrator
  • Office Manager
  • Payroll Administrator
  • Programme Recruitment
  • Receptionist
  • Secretary
  • Technology Support.

Definition of subject types

Subjects were defined as  from existing lists within the Department. The following subjects were allocated to each category:

Academic: 

  • Ancient Languages
  • Archaeology
  • Astronomy
  • Art and Design, History of Art
  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Citizenship studies
  • Classical studies
  • Computer science
  • Dance, drama and theatre
  • Design, technology and engineering
  • Electronics
  • English
  • Environmental science
  • Film and media studies
  • Food preparation and nutrition
  • Geography
  • Geology
  • History
  • Mathematics
  • Modern foreign languages
  • Music
  • Physical education
  • Philosophy
  • Physics
  • Politics
  • Psychology
  • Religious studies
  • Sociology

Vocational:

  • Accounting and Finance
  • Agriculture and Horticulture
  • Animal Care
  • Business Management and Administration
  • Catering and Hospitality
  • Construction, Planning and the Built Environment
  • Crafts, Creative Arts and Design
  • Design, Engineering and Manufacturing
  • Digital / ICT
  • Education and Childcare
  • Education and Training
  • Environmental
  • Hair, Beauty and Aesthetics
  • Health, Public Services and Care
  • Law and Legal Services
  • Media, Broadcast and Production
  • Performing Arts
  • Retail and Commercial Enterprise
  • Science
  • Sport, Leisure and Recreation
  • Transport and Logistics
  • Travel and Tourism

Other subject types:

  • Functional Skills (English, Maths and IT)
  • Life Skills
  • Preparation for Work
  • Supported Learning or Special Educational Needs learning provision
  • ESOL
  • Community Learning
  • Family Learning
  • Other

How the department uses the information

Data collected from the Further Education Workforce Data Collection supports the delivery of technical education reforms crucial to individual and national prosperity and be used to plan, implement and evaluate FE workforce policy. In addition, it provides the ability to assess and analyse the capacity of the FE workforce and generate valuable outputs for providers for planning, analysis, bench marking and skills gaps.

The data will be used to reply official correspondence, including Parliamentary Questions and Freedom of Information requests.

Further information

 

National and 
regional figures.

The underlying data files in the publication include regional level summaries.

The total number of staff in each region do not sum to the national total. This is because the national totals have been scaled to estimate the size of the workforce in the non responding providers. We have not done this for regional figures. This is because providers may operate over multiple regions, so scaling at regional level could be misleading.

Want previously 
published figures of this release series?
This is the first year of the Further Education Workforce publication.  
Want data for Wales, Scotland or Northern Ireland?

The Further Education Workforce Data Collection only collects information from further education providers in England. Education in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland is a devolved matter. For information for Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, contact the departments below or access their statistics at the following links:

Wales: Further Education statistics

Scotland: fhestatistics@scotland.gsi.gov.uk or Further Education statistics (gov.scot)

Northern Ireland: Further Education statistics

Other data published on further education workforce

There have been previously published data on further education workforce. These statistics are not directly comparable to the data presented in this release. 

College staff survey: last published in 2018. Research on improving workforce data in further education (FE) based on surveys and questionnaires returned by leaders, teachers and college staff.

Staff Individualised Record (SIR) Data Insights trends in demographics, staffing numbers and pay across all provider types in the Further Education (FE) and Training sector based on a sample of providers for the 2018/19 year. 

For related publications see:School workforce in England