Methodology

Median teacher pay using teacher pension scheme data

Published

Data Collection and Data Quality

The Teacher Pension Scheme (TPS) data is collected by the scheme administrator. The data is collected in the process of managing the contributions of teachers and their employers to their pensions. 

Audited annual accounts for the Teacher Pension Scheme are published. The latest audited accounts are available for 2022-23 [1]. This publication is based on a more recent extract of the TPS data which has not yet been through the full audit process. The quality of this data should be treated with greater caution.

The TPS data covers teachers eligible for the Teachers Pensions Scheme, regardless of participation. This should ensure a high degree of coverage for the scope of this publication, of teachers in state-funded schools, including those who have opted out of the pension scheme. Exceptions will exist, such as teachers working in state-funded schools for more than 28 days, and so in scope of the School Workforce Census, but who are contracted through a teacher supply agency and so are ineligible for the TPS in their current employment.

Employers have reporting responsibilities that are clearly set out [2]. Submitted data is subjected to validation processes and returned to employers for corrective action where errors are identified. Employers must submit End of Year Certificates, which ensure agreement between the data submitted and the financial contributions, on behalf of both the employee and the employer, made to the scheme.

When backdated pay awards are agreed, data must be submitted to retrospectively update prior months with the correct salary at the new rate. This may not be addressed as completely for the most recent pay award as for prior years, but our choice of reference date at the start of December increases the likelihood that the initial data submission reflected the award.

Data used in this publication for academic year 2023/24 was extracted before the end of the financial year and with a short period between submission and extraction. Data is therefore likely to be subject to more missing data than data for earlier years, as some providers only submit data at the end of the financial year, while for providers submitting data monthly, omissions may have not yet been identified and rectified. It may also be subject to greater data quality issues, as corrective actions may remain outstanding, and end of year reconciliation is yet to take place. 

The extract of TPS data used in this publication is considered provisional data. The TPS data remains subject to further submissions, revisions, and data cleaning between now and the next annual audited accounts publication. This process may not eliminate all input or data errors, including for prior years.

The School Workforce Census (SWC) data which we match TPS data to for this publication is collected by DfE and undergoes rigorous QA (see more detail here).
 

[1] Teachers' pension scheme: annual accounts 2022 to 2023 - GOV.UK (www.gov.uk)

[2] Guides | Employer help | Resources | Teachers' Pensions (teacherspensions.co.uk)

Data Processing

To ensure that the teachers included in this analysis are consistent with the school workforce publication, we have matched the TPS data to the SWC data and only teachers in the TPS that can be matched to the SWC are included in the calculation (please see the school workforce publication methodology for more information). 

We matched TPS data from the 1st of December to the SWC data. Taking the TPS data from December ensures that we can use a consistent date each year, which will typically be the first service line submitted by employers after the SWC collection in early November. Using data as of 1st December ensures teachers are likely to be in the same schools and same jobs as on census day, less than a month prior, while allowing more time for pay awards to have been implemented and included in the reported TPS data.

Teachers are included in this analysis only if their salary data is deemed reliable in both datasets and there is a unique match on their school-level contract between the SWC and TPS data. We therefore do not match centrally employed teachers or those teachers with more than one contract or service line reported for the same school. In the academic year 2023/24 around 88% of contracts in the SWC could be matched uniquely to the TPS on this basis. Between the years 2010/11 and 2023/24 the match rate has varied between 86% and 92%. The data used for 2023/24 is less complete than for some earlier years and the match rate could improve in future iterations of this analysis.

We have checked that the median pay statistics in the school workforce publication are approximately the same each year as for the matched subset of data, when calculating the median for this subset using the SWC data alone for these contracts, to ensure the matched dataset is representative. This provides confidence that the differences between the SWC and TPS median pay figures are due to differences in the pay data for individual teachers in the two sources, rather than due to the subset of teachers that can be matched having different characteristics than those who cannot be matched. 

We have filtered out contracts where the salary does not look reliable by comparing against rules based on the School Teachers Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) pay range minima and maxima for individual teachers’ grades. As far as possible we have followed the established methodology from the school workforce publication.

Further Information

Additional allowances have been included in the median salary calculations. This is consistent with the school workforce publication calculation of median pay, which is also based on gross pay. The median is the mid-point salary in the cohort when the salaries are arranged in order from smallest to largest.

When making comparisons of teacher salaries by school phase or type there will be several factors that affect pay to consider. For example, the published data do not take into account factors such as: size of school, location of the school (London has higher pay scales) and the teachers’ experience.

Comparison of SWC and TPS median pay

The chart below compares estimates of median teacher salaries in England, since the census collection began in 2010/11:

Line chart of median teacher pay estimates based on the SWC and TPS. Covering academic years from 200/11 to 2023/24. Total median pay and broken down by teacher role. All groups show a similar trend where the differences between data sources get larger in recent years.

The SWC data, unlike the TPS, does not show year on year increases that match the pay awards. 

The TPS estimated median pay is higher than the SWC in all years. The data indicates that a gap opened up between the estimate of median pay in the SWC, and TPS median pay, which is amended for backdated awards, after 2013/14. Prior to 2014/15, the difference between the two data sources was under £600 each year. This then increased to an average of around £1,000 between 2014/15 and 2020/21, inclusive. In 2021/22, the difference narrowed significantly. The difference has substantially increased in the past two years to over £2,000.  

Although other factors could have an influence, the timing of the data collection is likely the main driver causing the SWC data to not reflect fully the pay award for the academic year for a large number of teachers.

An explanation for the deviation between the recent pay awards and the lower increases year on year in salaries in SWC data, is that the data reported in the SWC for November 2023 did not yet incorporate in full the increases to teachers’ pay resulting from the most recent pay award. The SWC is designed to capture a snapshot of data on the day of collection; it is not adjusted for subsequent pay awards that are backdated.  Reported median pay in the November 2022 Census is equal to the maximum of the upper pay range for the prior year 2021/22, indicating there may be a number of teachers whose pay had yet to be adjusted for the 2022/23 award. A similar story is seen for 2023/24, where the reported median pay is just above the maximum of the upper pay range for 2022/23.

It is for schools to determine pay for teachers at an individual level, subject to their own pay policies and performance reviews. Such individual decisions may not have been made for all teachers by the time the census data are collected in November. Therefore, some schools may have reported data reflecting the latest pay review, but for others the pay reported will be that of the previous academic year (without the outcome of the latest pay review applied). 

The differences in the two estimates became greater from 2013/14 when reforms to link pay and appraisal may have contributed to implementation of the pay award not being fully complete by census day. However, this is likely to be more common in years where the consultation process and publication of the STPCD concludes later in the year which was the case in the 2022/23 and the 2023/24 academic years. 

As well as timing, the size of the pay awards is likely to influence the discrepancies in the estimates. Relatively high nominal awards in 2022/23 and 2023/24 are likely to mean that any reporting lag exerted a large influence on underestimating median pay, as seen in the differences between the estimates. The differences before 2021/22 were smaller, as the pay awards were lower. By comparison, the pause in public sector pay awards for 2021/22 meant that the reporting lag had a limited impact, leading to a much smaller underestimation of median pay overall. Reported pay in the School Workforce Census rose by [2.0%] despite the pause in pay awards, as the lagged award from the previous year ‘caught up’.

The particular circumstances above make a clear case that the timing of the data collection for the SWC is likely to account for the difference between the cumulative pay award for 2022/23 and 2023/24 (11.8% for the median teacher) and the increase in reported average pay between November 2021 and November 2023 (6.1%).  The increase in reported pay between 2022/23 and 2023/24 alone, at 5.3%, is only slightly lower than the 6.5% award but this is because the reporting lags in 2022/23 and 2023/24 largely cancel out, with the lagged 5.0% rise showing up in 2023/24 rather than 2022/23, offsetting the 6.5% not being reported in full. A similar effect exists in earlier years when measuring the year-on-year increase in average pay, as median pay in both years is often underestimated by a similar amount.

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Contact name: Giulia Chiandet

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