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Education in the media: 28 June 2017  

Posted by: , Posted on: - Categories: Equalities, Social mobility

Today’s news review looks at a new report from the Social Mobility Commission and details of the Department for Education’s gender pay gap.

Social Mobility Commission (SMC) report

Today, Wednesday 28 June, the Social Mobility Commission (SMC) published a new report entitled ‘Time for Change’.

The report analyses four life stages - early years, schools, young people and the world of work. It gives red, amber and green ratings on how successful different governments (from 1997 to 2017) have been in ensuring positive social outcomes.

Although the report concludes that progress on social mobility has been too slow under successive governments over the last 20 years, it backs a number of new government policies, including T levels, apprenticeships and accountability reforms for further education colleges.

It received widespread media pick-up, including in the Guardian, Telegraph and TES.

Social mobility is a key priority for the department and we are constantly working on ways to address this, including our £72 million Opportunity Areas programme and reforms to technical education.

A Department for Education spokesperson said:

Tackling social mobility is at the heart of the government’s ambition to make Britain a country that works for everyone.


There are 1.8 million more pupils in good or outstanding schools than in 2010, and we are delivering three million apprenticeship places, opening up access to our higher education system and investing £500 million a year into technical education.


However, we know that more must be done, and that’s why last year we launched our £72 million Opportunity Areas programme. This is bringing together local businesses, schools and councils in 12 social mobility ‘coldspots’ to create better opportunities for young people.

Gender pay gap

Today, Wednesday 28 June, the Department for Education published its gender pay gap, becoming the first government department to comply with the new reporting requirements.

The department has reported a mean pay gap – the difference between average salaries for men and women – of 5.3% and a median pay gap of 5.9%. This was covered in the Financial Times, BBC Online and TES, among others.

This is compared to the UK’s national gender pay gap of 18.1%, which is at its lowest level since records began in 1997.

It is important to recognise that the gender pay gap is not the same as unequal pay, which is paying men and women differently for the same job. This has been illegal for over 40 years.

The gender pay gap is an equality measure that shows the difference in average earnings between women and men. This can be as a result of a higher proportion of men in the top pay quartile of the organisation, or else more women in junior or lower-paid jobs.

The department is committed to reducing its gender pay gap and has introduced a range of initiatives to support women in the workplace. These include:

  • Support for women returning to work: through shared parental leave, job sharing or part time opportunities. The department has also updated its guidance on supporting staff returning from maternity or adoption leave.
  • Helping women progress in their careers: through talent management schemes such as the Positive Action Pathway, open to all from protected characteristic groups.
  • Providing networks: the departmental women’s equality network, Network 58, runs upskilling events, promotes campaigns and holds talks to support women in the workplace.
  • Monitoring pay: to identify any pay differences and take targeted action where appropriate.
  • Improving the recruitment process: the department has anonymised the application process to reduce unconscious bias and ensuring that all interviewers have undergone unconscious bias training.
  • Focus on gender equality: the department has made gender equality a central part of the departmental Diversity and Inclusion strategy.

Secretary of State for Education and Minister for Women and Equalities Justine Greening said:

I’m proud that the Department for Education has taken an important step in reporting its gender pay gap, setting an example to other employers as we build a stronger economy where success is defined by talent, not gender or circumstance.


The UK’s gender pay gap is at a record low, but we are committed to closing it. As one of the UK’s largest employers, the public sector has a vital role to play in leading the way to tackle the gender pay gap which is why the DfE’s step to publish our gender pay gap matters.


Through transparency we can find out what the situation is, where there is best practice and create pressure for more progress.

To view the gender pay gap data, please see here. The Government Equalities Office’s campaign page is also available for employers to access resources, case studies and publish their gender pay gap figures


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