ATL has always had concerns about any proposals to devolve pay and conditions as we have real fears that this could have a detrimental impact on the earnings of teachers in Wales and may lead to Welsh teachers migrating to England or leaving the profession altogether. Our position has always been to retain the integrity of the School Teachers Review Board for England and Wales and to resist any move towards regional pay in England or Wales.
However, in November a cross party amendment was introduced in the committee stages of the Wales Bill which will see teachers’ pay and conditions devolved to Wales at some stage in the coming years.
ATL members will no doubt welcome the clear commitment given by Carwyn Jones, at a recent First Minister’s Question session in the Senedd:
“One thing I can say, and I say this absolutely clearly, is that, as is the case in other areas where pay and conditions have been devolved there is no question – no question at all – of teachers in Wales being paid less than teachers in England. That is simply not going to happen.”
It is clearly of vital importance to our members, and to the future success of the profession in Wales, that pay comparability is maintained across the UK labour market. If devolution is to go ahead then there are safeguards that must be in place to ensure that the commitment to not cut pay and conditions operate fairly from day one.
We are therefore seeking assurances on the following issues:
- The mechanism to be put in place to ensure increases in teachers’ pay keeps pace with the increase in average weekly earnings and key inflationary indicators including RPI and CPI, as well as with pay awards in England, Scotland and Northern Ireland.
- How starting salaries for teachers in Wales will keep pace, or exceed, increases in graduate starting salaries.
- The retention of a national pay structure, including published national pay scales, for teachers and senior leaders with transparent mechanisms for progressing within and between pay scales.
- A commitment to pay mobility for teachers between all schools in Wales.
- Protection of all existing national conditions of service, with the provisions of the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document as a minimum benchmark.
- A commitment that agreed pay awards will be fully funded by Welsh government.
We would also like further clarity about the proposed timescales for the first pay round, and how this is linked to the proposal to bring forward a consultation on draft Regulations on the collection of education workforce data.