Skip to main content

Overview of SWAC design

The School Workforce Annual Census (SWAC) is an electronic collection of individual level data on the school workforce in local authority maintained settings in Wales. The first collection was introduced in 2019 and the census collects information as at November each year.

The SWAC is split into two parts: SWAC School return and SWAC Pay, HR and absences return.

The SWAC School return is completed by all local authority maintained school settings in Wales, including Pupil Referral Units (PRUs). Schools record data on the workforce throughout the year in their Management Information System (MIS) software. This part of the return collects information on workforce characteristics (including Welsh language, ethnicity and disability), staff roles and curriculum taught.

The SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return is completed by each local authority, as well as schools which have opted-out of payroll and / or human resource (HR) service level agreements with their local authority. The data is maintained throughout the year in their HR and payroll systems. This return collects information on staff contracts, including salary and any additional payments they receive. This approach ensures that data for all relevant staff who work at local authority maintained schools is captured.

This data is collated into an electronic SWAC return and submitted to the Welsh Government through the Data Exchange Wales Initiative (DEWI), a secure online data transfer system developed by the Welsh Government. Various stages of automated validation and sense checking are built into the process to ensure a high quality of data to inform policy making.

Both parts of SWAC collect a ‘minimum data set’ for each member of staff which includes: National Insurance number; Teacher Number; Forename; Middle Name, Surname; Sex; and Date of Birth. This ‘minimum data set’ is required for matching purposes between data returns (i.e. school and HR, payroll) and over time to enable analysis of trends and ensure the accuracy and consistency of information submitted and reported.

The privacy notice for school workforce members covered by SWAC provides details about what information is collected about them and what we do with their information.  

Some records in the SWAC School return may not have a corresponding record in the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return. These may relate to workforce members who are not employed through the local authority, but are employed through supply agencies or other third party organisations.

There may also be some records in the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return that may not have a corresponding record in the SWAC School return. These will be individuals who are centrally employed by a local authority.

Information relating to teachers and support staff in schools (e.g. headcount, split by sex / age) have been based on information submitted by schools in the SWAC School return.

Information relating to pay (including average salary and distribution across pay ranges) are based on information submitted in the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return. Records from this return were linked to the SWAC School return using the minimum data set to provide a breakdown by school sector (i.e. primary, secondary etc). Where no corresponding record was identified in the SWAC School return their sector has been recorded as ‘Other’.

Further information on SWAC, including background information, technical completion notes and the privacy notice are available on the School Workforce Annual Census page.

Quality information

Accuracy

(a) The statistics in this headline are based on information collected in the second SWAC collection and are published as experimental statistics. The information collected for 2019 and 2020 has not undergone a formal final validation process. However, various stages of automated validation and sense-checking are built into the process to ensure a high quality of data to inform policy making. A final validation period is intended to be introduced for future collections for schools and LAs to review the information they return, and re-submit their data where errors are identified prior to publication.

(b) The headcount, full-time equivalent (FTE) and full-person equivalent (FPE) numbers of teachers, teaching assistants and other school support staff are calculated from the data provided to the Welsh Government by schools in the SWAC School return and represent staff employed in schools on census date.

In 2020, a 100% of schools submitted a SWAC School return.

In 2019, there were 4 schools out of 1,502 (99.7% return rate) that did not submit a SWAC school return. For these schools the total number of staff was estimated using a scaling factor derived by comparing staff headcount numbers returned in SWAC and the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) by schools with similar characteristics within the same local authority. The scaling factor takes into account the total number of staff by staff category (from PLASC) and the total number of staff by role (from SWAC). The scaling factor is then used to gross up the totals based on received data in PLASC for the missing schools to produce national estimates.

These estimates have been calculated for total staff numbers by role. The estimated figures for the missing schools have been recorded as ‘unknown’ for breakdowns by specific characteristics (e.g. sex, age).

(c) It was not possible to publish full-time equivalent (FTE) numbers for teachers, teaching assistants and other support staff in schools on census date for 2019 from the SWAC School return due to inconsistencies in how schools recorded the number of hours worked in their return.  The collection was reviewed and a new field for FTE was included in the 2020 SWAC School collection.

However, it was possible to use information relating to FTE of contracts from the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return to calculate average salary, as the information was submitted as recorded in local authority HR and payroll systems.

(d) For the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return some local authorities recorded certain fields (e.g. ‘pay range’, ‘post’) incorrectly based on the structure of the data items held in their HR/Payroll systems. Where this is the case, records were mapped to a valid code from the published SWAC codesets based on other relevant information submitted as part of their return.

Changes introduced for the 2020 SWAC collection

A small number of changes were introduced to the SWAC collection for 2020. Feedback from schools’ and local authorities highlighted difficulties in recording hours worked per week against individual roles due to differences in contracted hours. The ‘hours worked per week’ data item was removed from the SWAC School data collection and replaced by a ‘Full-time equivalent (FTE)’ to be recorded against each separate main staff role.

Analysis of the 2019 data also highlighted issues relating to the recording of individuals on long-term absence (e.g. individuals on maternity leave, secondment out of the school, sabbatical leave) as well as individuals who were covering their posts. This resulted in double-counting staff in post in these instances. A new ‘Status’ data item was added to the 2020 collection to identify those members of the workforce employed within a school but on a long-term absence. Those records with a long-term absence status are not counted in the calculation of headcount, FTE and FPE calculations for 2020.

Total headcount

As SWAC is an individual level collection, workforce members who work in multiple roles or schools are recorded against each of these roles/schools. For local authority staff headcount, as part of the linking and aggregation process, those teachers with more than one role have their information combined into one record for each local authority they appear in, recorded against the highest grade for that individual. This means that if an individual works in two local authorities, they will be counted once in each of these local authorities.

For the Wales level headcount, the same rationale is applied where teachers with more than one role but in different local authorities have their information combined into one record, recorded against the highest grade for the individual. This means that individuals working in more than one local authority are only counted once in the Wales total.

For this reason, where information is published by local authority the sum of local authorities may not equal to the Wales figure published.

Individuals that were recorded as being on a long-term absence against their ’Status’ and individuals with zero full-time equivalence against their role(s) have been excluded from the headcount calculations for 2020.

Due to the above changes to the SWAC collection and subsequent changes to the methodology used for calculating headcounts, figures presented for 2020 are not directly comparable to figures published for 2019. Tables 1 and 2 show the number of individuals recorded as being on long-term absence by ‘status’ and individuals with zero FTE returned for the 2020 SWAC collection and compared against the total headcount published for 2019.

Table 1: Teachers count by status, 2019 and 2020
  2019 2020
Published headcount 26,880 25,930 (r)
Long-term absence . 950
Zero FTE . 60 (r)
Total count of individuals 26,880 26,935 (r)

Source: SWAC

. Information not available for 2019.

(r) Revised on 16 September 2021.

Table 2: Support staff count by status, 2019 and 2020
  2019 2020
Published headcount 29,025 29,055 (r)
Long-term absence . 465 (r)
Zero FTE . 300 (r)
Total count of individuals 29,025 29,820 (r)

Source: SWAC

. Information not available for 2019.

(r) Revised on 16 September 2021.

Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) and Full-Person Equivalent (FPE)

For the 2020 School Workforce Census results publication, we have introduced two new measures to help communicate the distribution of the school workforce. These two measures are the Full-Time Equivalent (FTE) and the Full-Person Equivalent (FPE). Both the FTE and the FPE take into account that an individual may work in more than role. These measures differ to the Headcount (first published for the November 2019 dataset) which counts individuals in their highest (most senior) role only.

The full-time equivalent (FTE) is an employee's scheduled hours divided by the employer's hours for a full-time workweek e.g. a part-time worker employed for 20 hours a week where full-time work is 40 hours is counted as 0.5 FTE.

Usually, the FTE for an individual contract may not exceed 1. However some individuals may hold multiple contracts which collectively sum to an FTE greater than 1. For example, a person may hold two Teaching assistant contracts with two separate schools. The FTE for each of these contracts may be 0.6, meaning that the total FTE for this individual is 1.2.

In contrast, the FPE is the proportion of a person's total working time that is spent in a particular role. As the FPE is concerned with the individual, a person's FPE will always sum to 1, even if their FTE is not equal to 1.

Here is a worked example to show the differences between the Headcount, FTE and FPE:

Person X works 2.5 days a week in a Secondary School. For 1 day a week Person X works as an Assistant headteacher and for the remaining 1.5 days, Person X works as a classroom teacher.

In the Headcount breakdown, Person X would be counted as 1 in the Assistant headteacher category (Headcount sums to 1), their highest (most senior) role.

In the FTE breakdown, Person X would be counted as 0.2 in the Assistant headteacher category and 0.3 in the classroom teacher category (FTE sums to 0.5).

In the FPE breakdown, Person X would be counted as 0.4 in the Assistant headteacher category and 0.6 in the classroom teacher category (FPE sums to 1).

For this publication, the FPE has been used to show a breakdown of the school workforce by staff category. The FTE has been used to show a breakdown of the workforce by staff category and sex. The headcount has been used to present data relating to staff category, sex, other equality characteristics (including age range, ethnicity, national identity and disability status), and Welsh language. Data relating to teacher pay uses the FTE and a count of individuals on each pay range.

Caution should be taken when comparing the FTE or FPE to the Headcount which shows individuals working in their highest (most senior) role only.

Please refer to Higher Education Statistics Authority (HESA) to see how the FPE has been used in other workforce statistics.

For this release, we have included a breakdown by staff category, sector and sex of full time and part time workers. In this instance, full time workers are those with an FTE greater than 0.99. Part time workers are those with an FTE less than 1. At the total teaching staff/support staff level, where an individual has more than one FTE record, their FTE records have been summed.

Pay information by post

Information on teachers’ pay is derived from the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return. Where this information is published by ‘post’ this has been based on the substantive post of the workforce member as recorded against the individuals’ contract. This may differ to the staff roles published using information from the SWAC School return which is based on the actual roles undertaken by individuals, on a permanent or temporary basis, as at the census date.

Revisions

Average leadership salary at November 2020 (noted in the Teachers’ Pay section of School Workforce Census Results: at November 2020) was revised on 1 September 2021 due to the discovery of an error. StatsWales was not affected.

An issue was identified which affected the 2020 school workforce census results release. This affects the data published on headcount, full-time equivalents and full-person equivalents (FPE) on teachers and support staff. As a result of this we have reviewed the methodology for deriving headcounts at Wales and local authority level and revised affected figures on 16 September 2021. The issue occurred where specific staff roles were omitted from the calculations.

This has resulted in a slight increase in the number of teachers and a greater increase in the number of support staff, as well as some changes to the breakdown by staff characteristics. The data published on StatsWales and in our interactive dashboard have been updated to reflect these revisions.

An improved methodology for removing duplicate records was introduced which may have led to some small revisions to the breakdown of some staff characteristics in the 2019 data. The data published on StatsWales and in our interactive dashboard for 2019 have been updated to reflect these revisions.

Comparability

The School Workforce Annual Census (SWAC) collects information on an individual level as at November of each year. The Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) collects aggregated level data on the number of teachers and support staff as at January of each year, though the 2021 PLASC was delayed until April as a result of school closures between December 2020 and March 2021 due to the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic. There are also some differences in the scope of individuals to be included in each return. For example SWAC includes all workforce members who are employed on a contract or agreement of 1 month or more compared to PLASC which includes staff on a contract of a term or longer. Also, the list of staff roles captured in SWAC is broader than that included in PLASC.

Information on the school workforce, collected via PLASC, is available in the ‘Schools’ Census Results: as at January 2020’ statistical release and on StatsWales. Information from both returns will be analysed to understand any differences there may be. Teacher numbers from PLASC will continue to be used for key published outputs, including for calculating pupil-teacher ratios, until this analysis is complete and any differences in outputs are fully explained.

School workforce information will continue to be collected in PLASC until the procedures and processes for SWAC have been fully established and  the quality of the information collected has been further quality assured. Until that time care should be taken when comparing figures from both returns.

Data published in the ‘School Census Results’ statistical release derived using information from the Pupil Level Annual School Census (PLASC) should continue to be used as the official statistics on the school workforce, and used for comparisons over time. Once the quality of the data collected through SWAC has been assured and any differences explained this release will provide the official statistics on the school workforce in Wales.

Here is the latest available data for: 

England

School Workforce in England

Scotland 

Education statistics

Northern Ireland

Education statistics

Respondent burden

The Code of Practice for Statistics advises public bodies collecting statistical data that the burden for respondents should be proportionate to the benefits arising from use of the data collected. In order to understand the burden associated with the SWAC data collection, respondents were asked to provide information about the time taken to complete the collection. This data was collected for all schools who submitted the SWAC School element of the data collection. We plan to collect this data from those completing the SWAC HR element in future years.

Table 3: Average (mean and median) number of hours taken to complete SWAC School collection, 2019 and 2020
  2019 2020
Mean 16.91 8.82
Median 8 4

Source: SWAC

Respondent burden data was submitted on behalf of 1498 schools (99.7% of all schools) in 2019 and 1496 schools (100% of all schools) in 2020. In 2019, the average (mean) time taken to complete the SWAC School collection was 16.9 hours1. This figure reduced to 8.8 hours2 in 2020. A similar trend was observed when looking at the median, with the number of hours taken to complete the collection reducing from 8 hours to 4.

Table 4: Proportion (%) of time taken to complete SWAC School collection by staff category, 2019 and 2020
  2019 2020
Support staff3 89% 87%
Local authority staff 3% 2%
Qualified classroom teachers 2% 2%
Leadership4 6% 9%

Source: SWAC

Table 4 above shows that members of support staff are mainly responsible for completing the SWAC return on behalf of their school. Staff in leadership roles spent the second greatest amount of time completing the SWAC return. This is expected as Headteachers are responsible for authorising the return and confirm the accuracy of the information submitted.

1 Total of 960 hours submitted on behalf of one school has been excluded as an outlier.

2 Total of 999 hours submitted on behalf of one school has been excluded as an outlier.

3 Includes Administration staff, Business managers, Data managers, IT staff and other support staff.

4 Includes Assistant headteachers, Deputy headteachers, Acting headteachers, Headteachers and Executive headteachers.

Timeliness and punctuality

The SWAC data in this release relate to the position on Tuesday 3 November 2020.  This report covers a time period during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, which has affected how schools have operated. As a result this may have an effect on the statistics presented in the statistical release. 

DEWi was available for uploading files from 3 November 2020. DEWi was originally due to close for the collection on 16 December 2020.  However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and to give schools sufficient opportunity to collate, record and correct the information the collection period was extended. The last school submitted their return on 28 May 2021.

Accessibility and clarity

This headline has been pre-announced and then published on the Statistics and Research section of our website.

National Statistics status

These statistics are not National Statistics. However, as far as has been practicable, they have been collected and validated in accordance with the pillars and principles within the Code of Practice for Statistics. We continue to develop the data collection and quality assurance process to improve the data.

Well-being of Future Generations Act

The Well-being of Future Generations Act 2015 is about improving the social, economic, environmental and cultural wellbeing of Wales. The Act puts in place seven wellbeing goals for Wales. These are for a more equal, prosperous, resilient, healthier and globally responsible Wales, with cohesive communities and a vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. Under section (10)(1) of the Act, the Welsh Ministers must (a) publish indicators ('national indicators') that must be applied for the purpose of measuring progress towards the achievement of the wellbeing goals, and (b) lay a copy of the national indicators before Senedd Cymru. The 46 national indicators were laid in March 2016.

Information on the indicators, along with narratives for each of the well-being goals and associated technical information is available in the Well-being of Wales report.

Further information on the Well-being of Future Generations (Wales) Act 2015.

The statistics included in this release could also provide supporting narrative to the national indicators and be used by public services boards in relation to their local wellbeing assessments and local wellbeing plans.

Next update

July 2022 (provisional)

Period covered: The SWAC data will relate to the position on Tuesday 2 November 2021.

We want your feedback

We welcome any feedback on any aspect of these statistics which can be provided by email to educationworkforcedata@gov.wales.

Contact details

Statistician: Gareth Thomas
Telephone: 0300 025 5968
Email: educationworkforcedata@gov.wales

Media: 0300 025 8099

Download this page as a PDF . File size 132 KB.

File size 132 KB. This file may not be fully accessible.