Understanding trends and patterns within the FE sector workforce is important for providers, for policy makers, and for sector bodies. Common themes, such as average salary, average age, gender balance, and percentage of qualified staff, help to inform decision making and strategic activity.
Now in its 26th year, the Staff Individualised Record (SIR) Data Insights is the most robust and independent source of data on the latest trends in demographics, staffing numbers and pay across all provider types in the Further Education (FE) and Training sector. It has been run by the Education and Training Foundation (ETF) for the past six years and forms a key pillar of the workforce development support the ETF provides.
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This year, the SIR reflects 90,792 records, up from 72,104 last year. Data was submitted by 193 providers, including 118 colleges – more than half of the general FE colleges in England. As well as FE, sixth form and specialist colleges, the dataset comprises local authorities, independent training providers and the third sector.
The key findings include:
- A growth in the size of every type of college for which data is collected, demonstrated by increased headcount over the past five years. Since SIR 21 (2012–13 data), median headcount at general FE colleges has grown from 571 to 642, at agriculture and horticulture colleges from 321 to 504, at sixth form colleges from 230 to 261, and at specialist designated colleges from 64 to 123. This growth is unsurprising, the report notes, given the large number of mergers that have taken place in the FE sector in recent years.
- A further increase in the proportion of teachers spending 30 hours or more on CPD a year – 75% in SIR 26, compared with 72% in SIR 25 (2016–17 data) and 57% in SIR 24 (2015–16 data).
- A slight increase in casual employment, with the proportion of individuals in the survey on permanent contracts decreasing from 78% in SIR 25 (2016–17 data) to 75.7% in SIR 26, and the proportion of casual staff increasing from 7.4% to 9.9%. Additionally, the number of zero hours contracts in the data increased from 3,323 in SIR 25 (2016–17 data) to 3,501 in SIR 26. The use of casual staff is particularly pronounced in in local authorities, where just over 40% of contracts are casual, compared to just 8.3% at colleges.
- A surge in the number of apprentices being employed compared to last year, with the increase being driven by a significant jump in the number of administration apprentices – from fewer than 500 in SIR 25 (2016–17 data) to more than 700 in SIR 26. As was the case in the last data collection, the vast majority of apprentices are employed in colleges.
- A small reduction in the gender pay gap compared to last year (down from 9.7% to 9.3% in favour of male employees).
- A decrease in median teacher pay across all providers, from £31,800 in SIR 25 (2016–17 data) to £31,600 in SIR 26. This continues the trend of falling pay from earlier reports (median pay was £32,500 in 2012–13). However, it should be noted that SIR 21 collected data on teacher pay from colleges only; median teacher pay in colleges in SIR 26 was slightly higher than at other providers, at £31,800. Median teacher pay reported in SIR 26 at ITPs was £26,000 and at local authorities £25,500.
- The most common level of teaching qualification held remains seven (a PGCE or equivalent), closely followed by five (the level that makes an individual eligible to apply to attain Qualified Teacher Learning and Skills [QTLS] status).
- The proportions of different types of staff for whom data is included in the SIR are similar to last year. Forty-two per cent of individuals for whom data was submitted were teaching staff, 16% were learner-facing technical staff, and 15% were admin staff. Colleges and local authorities continue to have higher proportions of teachers in their workforces, while independent training providers have a higher proportion of assessors.
Data has always been collected at individual staff contract level from colleges through the Staff Individualised Record (SIR) system, which includes anonymised staff contract data. Up to 2015/16, the data describing the workforce in private, statutory and third sector providers was generated by surveys distributed through their respective networks and with the help of the relevant membership bodies.
In 2015/16, the ETF undertook a major refresh to consolidate all data collection and reporting activity into one new, user-friendly national service, SIR Data Insights. For the first time, the service collected anonymised data at individual staff contract level from all types of provider in the sector, not just colleges. The data set was also extended to include additional fields to make reporting more useful, including data on qualifications..
SIR Data Insights is now in its fourth year of operation after a successful pilot in 2015/16. The service has been designed to make data collection as easy as possible for providers and to offer additional benefits in return for contributing data, including powerful management dashboards and benchmark comparisons. The ETF is requesting all providers funded through the Education and Skills Funding Agency to register on the service to receive information, access benefits and submit data.
For detailed information on SIR Data Insights, together with comments from existing users, visit the website.