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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 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

Revision to average (mean) FTE salary

Following the publication of provisional headline data on 30th July 2020 it was found that the calculation of the average (mean) FTE salary for all teachers in Wales was incorrect due to rounding issues.  The result of the change is as follows:

Average (Mean) FTE salary Wales: Provisional = £40,113; Final = £40,114.

Accuracy

The statistics in this headline are based on information collected in the first SWAC collection and as such are published as experimental statistics. The information collected for 2019 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 being considered 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.

The total number 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. However, a small number of schools did not submit a SWAC school return before the collection was closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. To ensure that the total number of staff could be reported at a Wales level estimates of the total number of staff were derived for the missing schools.

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).

It is 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 has been reviewed and a new field for FTE will be included in the 2020 SWAC with the intention of publishing FTE numbers in future releases.

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.

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.

Total headcount

As SWAC is an individual level collection there may be instances where a workforce member is recorded against multiple roles within the same school or in multiple schools. For local authority staff headcount, as part of the linking and aggregation process, those teachers with more than one role (e.g. working part-time in two schools) have their information combined into one record for each local authority they appear in, recorded against the highest grade for that individual.

For Wales level headcount, the same rationale is applied where teachers with more than one role (e.g. working part-time in two schools) but in different local authorities have their information combined into one record, recorded against the highest grade for the individual.

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

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.

Shielding teachers and teaching assistants during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic

For the shielding teachers and teaching assistant analysis, identifying information from both the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences and SWAC School returns were combined to give a complete list of all staff. All staff from the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences return were included in full, then adding in staff from the SWAC School returns that did not appear on the SWAC Pay, HR and Absences returns (i.e. it includes staff employed centrally by local authorities). Only staff without a recorded contract end date or with a contract end date after the start of lockdown on 23 March were included in the analysis. Therefore, care should be taken when comparing the figures presented against the total headcount staff figures presented due to differences in methodology used.

The ‘Shielding teachers and teaching assistants during the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic report provides further information on this analysis.

Comparability

The School Workforce Annual Census (SWAC) collects information on an individual level as at November. The PLASC collects aggregated level data on the number of teachers and support staff as at January of each year. 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, was recently published in the ‘Schools’ Census Results: as at January 2020’ statistical report 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 SWAC has embedded and the quality of the information collected has been assured. Until that time care should be taken when comparing figures from both returns.

Here is the latest available data for: 

England

School Workforce in England as at November 2019

Scotland 

Education statistics

Northern Ireland

Education statistics

Timeliness and punctuality

The SWAC data in this release relate to the position on Tuesday 5th November 2019. The information does not therefore relate to the period of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. 

DEWi was available for uploading files from 5 November 2019. DEWi was originally due to close for the collection on 16 December 2019.  However, due to this being the first collection and to give schools sufficient opportunity to collate, record and correct the information the collection period was extended. On 19 March 2020 a decision was made to suspend all current school data collections as well as cancelling any data collections for the reminder of the 2019/20 academic year due to the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

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 the National Assembly. 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 2021 (provisional)

The SWAC data will relate to the position on Tuesday 3 November 2020.

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

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