Late last year, an analysis by the Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance revealed that the actual number of staff employed by the IOM Department of Education, Sport and Culture increased by almost 20%. During this time, staff numbers for the Department as a whole increased from 2,069 to 2,455. These figures were published by the Chief Minister, Alf Cannan, in response to a written question from none other than Julie Edge, the newly-appointed Minister for Education, Sport and Culture (DESC).

This new year, however, has seen several of our schools unable to provide in-person schooling to students. Students were told to stay home because there were insufficient teachers available to teach the students at school. It is understood that staff absences are substantially connected to staff isolating due to suspected Coronavirus infections.

How can this be? How can we have a huge surge in DESC staff numbers, yet also have insufficient staff to teach our children in classrooms? How is this possible?

The Manx TaxPayers’ Alliance has delved into the underlying data to understand why.

Number of Teachers/Lecturer staff remains steady; Other staff numbers increase 36%

As part of the information obtained by Julie Edge from the Isle of Man Government and published in Tynwald, the Isle of Man Government categorises staff numbers by their employment type. In the DESC, this includes eleven staff categories, being Education Management; Education Support; Individual Contract; MPTC (Nurses etc.); NJC Social Care; PSC CS Departmental; PSC CS General Service; PSC CS JESP; PSC Manual & Craft; Teacher / Lecturer; and Youth Service.

During the 2016/17 academic year, there were 990 actual staff employed in the Teacher / Lecturer category, spread across the various educational institutions operated by the DESC. At the same time, there were 1,079 other staff employed by the DESC.

In 2020/2021 (the most recent completed academic year) the number of staff actually employed by the DESC in the teacher / lecturer category remained precisely steady at 990. However, the number of other staff employed by the DESC had increased by almost 400 extra staff over the last five yars to 1,465 staff – a remarkable increase of 36% extra staff in the non-teacher/lecturer categories.

The Isle of Man in Numbers 2021 report from the Economic Affairs Division of the IOM Government shows that the population of school age children dropped marginally over this time – 11,636 students at the beginning of the 2016 academic year, and 11,553 students1 at the beginning of the 2021 academic year.

Thus, in 2016/17, there were 990 teachers/lecturers for 11,636 school age children, a ratio of one teacher or lecturer for every 11.8 children. In 2020/21, there were 990 teachers/lecturers for 11,553 school age children, a ratio of one teacher or lecturer for every 11.7 children. These ratios remain substantially unchanged2.

Increasing proportion of DESC wages going to non-teacher/lecturer staff

During the last administration, an increasing proportion of the DESC wage bill was dedicated to the increasing number of staff employed in non-lecturer/teacher categories.

In the 2016/17 academic year, the teacher/lecturer category accounted for £35.5 million of a total wage bill of £53.6 million – just over 66% of the total DESC wages. During the five years of the last administration, teacher/lecturer wages increased to £40.4 million, while the total wage bill increased to £68.3 million. As a result, teacher/lecturer wages fell from 66% of total DESC wages to 59% of total DESC wages.

The total salaries paid to teachers/lecturers increased by 13.8% during this period – but the total salaries paid to other categories of DESC staff increased by 54.3%.

Management staff double, wages increase by 125%

The number of actual staff employed in the DESC category of “Education Management” increased from 4 staff to 9 staff during the Quayle administration, with salaries for that category increasing from £285,665 to £643,890 – an increase of 125%.

The biggest areas of staff increases was in:

  • Education Support, which increased from 507 staff to 549 staff, an increase of 42 staff (8.3% increase)
  • PSC CS General Service, which increased from 88 staff to 142 staff, an increase of 54 staff (61.4% increase)
  • PSC Manual & Craft, which increased from 246 staff to 553 staff, an increase of 307 staff (124.8% incrase)

Source Documents

  1. The Isle of Man Government “Isle of Man in Numbers” publication, reproduced here, does not publish the number of students actually enrolled at DESC-operated facilities, but we have yet to find little evidence of statistically relevant changes in home schooling and private education attendance during this period.
  2. Yes, this ratio does not consider the number of people enrolled at UCM, private schooling, or home schooling. Those numbers are unlikely to substantially alter the basic point here: we have roughly the same number of students and teachers/lecturers from the 2016/17 academic year through to the 2020/21 academic year.