Education Partnership North East (EPNE) has announced its gender pay gap results for 2021 which is significantly below the national average.

Across the regional college group, which includes Hartlepool Sixth Form, Northumberland College and Sunderland College, the mean pay gap is 6.4% – an increase of 0.5% on the 2020 figure. 

For the overall education sector, the Office for National Statistics in 2021 reported an increase in both mean (17.6%) and median (25.4%) averages. 

Although there is a widening of the mean gender pay gap compared to the previous year, there has been a reduction in the College Group’s median figure of almost 1%.  

The make-up of staffing within the College Group has not changed significantly in the last year, with EPNE employing a higher proportion of female than male staff, of 62% compared to 38%. 

There are more females occupying senior roles within the organisation, reflected in the upper middle and upper quartiles. EPNE continues to have higher proportions of females that lie within quartiles 1 and 2, which have lower paid salaries and include catering staff and in common with the rest of the UK. 

Excluding teaching staff, 42% of the entire workforce are part-time or term-time only, with 78% female and 22% male, demonstrating the College Group has more of these roles largely being filled by women. 

What have we been doing to understand and close the gender pay gap? 

  • Reviewed exit rates by grades, category and gender of staff across the reporting year 
  • Reviewed our internal recruitment process for candidate progression 
  • Reviewed new starts by category, gender and starting salaries across the reporting year 
  • Reviewed promotion rates by gender and categories across the reporting year 
  • Undertaken extended pay gap analysis into ethnicity, disability and sexual orientation 

What actions will we take? 

The Group is satisfied that the differences are not due to the underpayment of women in roles similar to male colleagues. EPNE will continue to monitor this and will undertake a review of: 

  • The recruitment practice to see if more females can be encouraged to apply into male dominated academic subjects. 
  • Additional analysis to identify whether people get ‘stuck’ at certain levels within the organisation. 
  • Additional leaver data analysis to understand reasons for leaving to determine appropriate actions to encourage retention. 
  • Non-declaration of equality data and take agreed actions in conjunction with the EDI committee to encourage an increase in applicant and workforce declarations. 

The full pay gap report for this year’s reporting period can be found here.

The Government under the Equalities Act 2010 (Specific Duties and Public Authorities) Regulations 2017 introduced gender pay gap reporting. The College Group now has a legal duty to report and publish data on the gender pay on both the College Group website and via the Government Equalities Office. 

The purpose of gender pay gap reporting is for organisations in the public sector with over 250 employees to report on and illustrate the difference between the average earnings of men and women in their organisation. 

This year’s report marks the third data return for Education Partnership North East since merging with Northumberland College in 2019. Sunderland College first reported in 2018 in line with the new legislation. In 2019 Hartlepool Sixth Form was first included in the data return.

Why Education Partnership North East (EPNE)?

Highly commended - Employer of the Year, Sunderland Echo Portfolio Awards 2019

Engagement with Employers - Association of Colleges (AoC) Beacon Award 2017

(Sunderland College On-programme Survey 2017)

Selected by DfE for 2021 T Level pilot to deliver the new high-quality technical qualifications.

98% overall employer satisfaction - Employer Survey 2018/19