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Education

Row brews on teachers’ pay

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Greater say: Unions want more input on teachers' pay

A WELSH G​OVERNMENT’S ​consultation on teachers’ pay and conditions has been criticised by Wales’ largest teaching unions.

While the Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams, has hailed the devolution of teachers’ pay and conditions as an opportunity to elevate the status of the teaching profession in Wales, both NEU Cymru and NASUWT have criticised the consultation mechanism adopted.

Powers over teachers’ pay and conditions are in the process of being devolved to the Welsh Government from Westminster under the Wales Act.

The Welsh Government will take responsibility for this area at the end of this September, with teachers’ pay and conditions being set by the Welsh Government from September 2019.

A consultation opened on Friday, March 9, on the mechanism for deciding teachers’ pay and conditions in Wales.

It proposes a model that would see unions, employers and the Welsh Government working together as part of a partnership forum.

This new Partnership Forum would be able to propose changes to a draft remit for pay and conditions and set the agenda for any other issues that needed to be considered.

Following consideration of the Forum’s views, Welsh Ministers would submit a ‘final’ remit for scrutiny and analysis by an independent expert body prior to taking any final decisions.

Running parallel to the consultation is a group set up to review teachers’ pay and conditions, chaired by Professor Mick Waters. The group will consider where and how the current system could be improved and will report to the Cabinet Secretary later this year.

Elaine Edwards, UCAC General Secretary said: “UCAC is pleased to see Welsh Government’s proposals for how it intends to determine teachers’ pay and conditions once the powers have been devolved.

“After decades of campaigning and persuasion by UCAC – which until recently was an extremely lonely voice in the desert on this matter – the opportunity to set pay and conditions that go hand-in-hand with our ambitions and our cultural approach to the Welsh education system is within reach.

“We welcome the proposal that pay and conditions should be statutory and consistent across Wales. This is crucial to in order to secure equity. The commitment to ensuring that there will be parity of pay with teachers in equivalent schools over the border is also to be welcomed.

“We look forward to moving swiftly now to a system that meets Wales’ needs, and which is in tune with our values and our vision.”

Chris Keates, General Secretary of the NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union, was notably less enthusiastic.

“It is deeply disappointing that a process which is so fundamentally important to teachers and which should be the subject of discussion and agreement between the Welsh Government, the NASUWT and other recognised unions has been put out to public consultation”, he said.

“Such a move in our experience is without precedent and rather than elevate the status of the teaching profession in Wales, has the potential to undermine teachers and their conditions of service.”

Rex Philips, NASUWT National Official Wales, said: “Although the commitment from the Cabinet Secretary that there is no question of teachers in Wales being paid less than teachers in England is welcomed, it ignores the fact that many teachers in Wales are already being paid less than their counterparts in England because of the failure of the Welsh Government to ensure the appropriate implementation of the recommendations of the teachers’ pay review body this year.

“Furthermore, the Cabinet Secretary appears to be unaware of the commitment that was given by the First Minister that teachers in Wales would not be worse off in terms of their conditions of service. The NASUWT expects that commitment to be honoured fully in terms of the non-pay conditions that are currently enshrined in the school teachers pay and conditions document. There could be improvement in these conditions, but there must not be any detriment.”

Kirsty Williams said: “I want to work closely with the profession to help teachers be the best they can be and that means looking at everything we can do to support them – whether it be a fair and sensible structure for deciding pay and conditions, new ways to cut classroom bureaucracy or better professional development.

“As a government, we have been absolutely clear that there’s no question of teachers being paid less than teachers in England. The model we’re consulting on will ensure that unions, employers and Welsh Government can come together and agree a fair, sensible and sustainable way forward.

“We also have to look at this in the round; there has never been a better opportunity to develop a truly national model that enshrines a national approach to supporting and elevating the profession.

“I would urge everyone who shares our ambitions to take part in this consultation.”

David Evans, Wales Secretary of the NEU, expressed strong reservations on, however.

Speaking to The Herald, he said that there was a number of issues the consultation raised which caused him some concern, primarily on the implementation of the proposed independent review body on teachers’ pay.

“Collective bargaining, as in Scotland, should be considered as an approach to settling teachers’ pay. We have had prior discussions with the Welsh Government ahead of the survey, but there’s been no explanation as to why ruled out.

“Quite clearly, the Cabinet Secretary has had an input and opted for an independent body, but if you look at the consultation document the process will be long drawn out.

“The process starts in September, but it will May 2019 before there is a final decision. If any matters arose in the interim period, as they sometimes do, there is no mechanism for an interim pay rise.”

David Evans continued: “The Cabinet Secretary is trying to appease everyone and the consultation represents a mish-mash of ideas.

“You could say that the consultation process itself includes the bargaining element, but it is not true bargaining as we would see it.”

Turning to the review body itself, Mr Evans’ told us that its creation raised issues of funding and governance.

“There is a cost to setting up a new pay review body here in Wales. At the moment, pay is negotiated across England and Wales and there are significant economies of scale in that approach. Those economies of scale will be lost in a separate body, which will still have to commission research. I question how the pay body will be paid for. Will the funding for its secretariat come out of the education budget, for example? That question has not been addressed either before the consultation or in it.

“A final concern is that every year, teachers’ pay will be going out to a public consultation. The only people who should be consulted on teachers’ pay are teachers.

“The Welsh Government claims it is legally obliged to carry out that consultation, but when I have asked to be pointed to the statute that says that I have received no answer. No other public employees’ pay is decided by public consultation, and teachers’ should not be decided like that.”

The Herald put Mr Evans’s concerns to the Welsh Government.

Education

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A MASTERS graduate from UWTSD recently won the Student Dissertation category at the prestigious Celebrating Outdoor Learning Awards 2018 ceremony.

John Godley received his prize at the Celebrating Outdoor Learning Awards are presented to Outdoor Learning professionals and organisations in recognition of their outstanding work as well as encouraging excellence.

Scooping the student award, John’s dissertation looked at how disconnection from social media contributes to young people’s experience and learning on a 3-day outdoor education residential.

Celebrating dissertation work completed by students as part of an undergraduate or post-graduate course the category was open to students who had successfully completed their course during the three years to September 2018.

The judges looked for evidence of the choice and focus of the subject; the clarity of purpose and structure; research and review; methodology; analysis and interpretation of results; communication as well as conclusions and summaries.

“I’m really pleased to have won the dissertation award,” says John, a Further Education college lecturer. “The course was a fantastic experience that allowed me to explore issues and perspectives that I had not even known about beforehand. I was able to take part in some really memorable practical experiences which were blended with the academic content and which were great opportunities to meet experts in their fields and the other students on the course. The skills I learned on the course have really benefitted my teaching through the advanced academic and critical thinking skills developed. The tutors’ support has been excellent throughout and they have been central to giving me the confidence to enter the competition.”

In what was a highly contested category, another UWTSD Masters graduate, Anna Gordon, was also highly commended and featured as one of the three category finalists. Anna’s dissertation was an exploration of how women perceive the presence of others to affect their freedom in outdoor activities.

Having both graduated with an MA in Outdoor Education in July 2018, their dissertations were submitted with the support of UWTSD’s MA Outdoor Education Programme Director, Dr Andy Williams who attended the ceremony and collected John’s award on his behalf.
“John’s success in winning the Student Dissertation Award at the national conference for the Institute for Outdoor Learning is a terrific personal achievement and reflects well on his commitment to further study and his competence as an early career researcher,” says Andy.

“The study is highly topical, focussing on how a disconnection from social media on a residential outdoor experience might contribute towards changing attitudes and behaviour around future use.

“I am delighted to say that he has already looked to share his conclusions with a broader audience in Horizons – the professional journal for Outdoor Educators. As important is John’s continuing desire to constantly improve his own teaching and outdoor practice through his involvement with the MA Outdoor Education programme at UWTSD.

Speaking of Anna’s achievement of reaching the final three, Andy is again delighted to see another of his students attain success and recognition on a national level.

“Anna Gordon’s success in being shortlisted for the Student Dissertation Award at the national conference for the Institute for Outdoor Learning is well deserved,” continues Andy.

“At a time when society has reawakened to issues of equality and opportunity Anna’s study is highly topical for Wales and the outdoor community focusing as it does on Women’s perceptions of the presence of others to affect their freedom in outdoor activities.

“Anna’s dissertation success draws from her MA Outdoor Education studies (2016-18) and builds on her previous undergraduate success on the BA Outdoor Adventure Education degree at UWTSD where she studied from 2013-16. Anna lives locally and works as a freelance outdoor instructor with many local groups and organisations. As a graduate of UWTSD we are proud of her academic success and pioneering work as a role model for young women developing a career in the outdoors.”

UWTSD’s Outdoor Education courses are now offered at the University’s new Outdoor Adventure Education Centre in Carmarthen called Cynefin – an accessible hub for the University’s BA Outdoor Adventure Education and MA Outdoor Education students enabling them to further enhance their skills and develop their understanding of Outdoor Adventure.

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Education

Noteworthy £3m for music education

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THE MINISTER for Education, Kirsty Williams, confirmed £3m for improving music services in schools across Wales over the next two years.

The fund aims to increase access and opportunities for children and young people in Wales to learn new instruments and study music. It builds on initiatives such as Anthem and will offer opportunities to ensure the provision of high quality, universal access to musical education for all learners.

£1.5million will be spent in 2018/19, with a further £1.5 million allocated for music services next year. This includes £1million per annum as agreed as part of the two-year budget agreement between the Welsh Government and Plaid Cymru and £0.5m as announced in yesterday’s final budget allocation.

Local Authorities have received £1.4million via the Welsh Local Government Association (WLGA) which may be used to support a variety of services including:

• Purchasing new and endangered instruments
• Ensuring all pupils have access to lessons, exams and courses
• Covering costs of attendance at orchestras, choirs and bands
• Initiating a ‘rock and pop’ ensemble
• Supporting music co-operative arrangements
• National Youth Arts Wales has received £100,000 to continue their music services, including youth ensembles.

Kirsty Williams said: “Music is at the heart of our nation’s rich heritage and I am absolutely committed to ensuring all our young people, whatever their background, have the same opportunities to develop their musical talent and reach their full potential.

“Schools will already be delivering musical education as part of our progressive new curriculum, and this additional funding will help break down barriers, such as costs for exams and access to instruments.”

Bethan Sayed AM, Committee Chair of the Culture, Welsh Language and Communications Committee, said: “I’m pleased by this announcement and that more money has been committed to this than initially proposed in the Welsh Government, Plaid Cymru budget agreement.

“People across the sector, throughout Wales, have been calling for extra, targeted support and I hope that the funding announced will start to reverse the decline we’ve witnessed in music in schools.

“The Education Secretary has worked with me and others in good faith and this is a testament to what can be achieved when there is consensus on an issue.”

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Education

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A COLEG SIR GAR apprentice hairdresser and an aspiring retail designer have proved they have world-class talent following their selection to the WorldSkills UK Squad.

Ellie Hanley, 19 from Haverfordwest, and Phoebe McLavy, 20 from Carmarthen, have both been selected for Squad UK to train for a chance to represent Great Britain in Russia next year at WorldSkills, the globe’s biggest biennial skills competition.

Apprentice hairdresser Phoebe, who is employed by Morgan Edwards in Carmarthen has been successful in a range of regional and national competitions including WorldSkills UK Live, a competition final held every year at Birmingham NEC.

Edward Rees, owner at Morgan Edward has been supporting Phoebe through her competition journey and providing training within his salon. He said: “Two years ago Phoebe began her WorldSkills journey as a young, motivated but very inexperienced hairdresser.
“Through her hard work and dedication to her craft, she has competed all over the country and won several awards along the way.

“Today she is a highly qualified and talented member of the UK Squad and, as a salon, we have committed time and energy into her development and now have an asset in Phoebe.
“I would urge other employers to guide their staff down this exciting career path.”
Phoebe McLavy added: “Competing and training has been an amazing experience which has taken me as far as Budapest and Italy for the EuroSkills training camp and locally, my employer and college are investing in additional training.

Ellie Hanley, who has been selected for Squad UK’s visual merchandising team is also familiar with competition success and has taken part in a range of regional and national events including WorldSkills UK Live in Birmingham where she won a silver medal in 2016. She said: “’Going to WorldSkills Live at the NEC was a truly incredible experience.
“Transforming a plain window booth into a fashion-focused display with hundreds of onlookers was very scary and incredibly pressurising.

“I am overjoyed to have been selected for Squad UK and I cannot wait to get stuck into all the intense training over the next few months.”

The Inspiring Skills Excellence in Wales (ISEiW) project is a Welsh Government funded initiative that encourages and supports all Welsh competitors taking part in WorldSkills competitions and offer support across the board, from regional Skills Competition Wales events to international level.

Paul Evans, pan-Wales coordinator for ISEiW said: “It’s a tough competition process but it’s highly supportive of competitors to ensure they are competing at world standard level.
“It’s also a highly competitive process which involves an intense training regime, supported by WorldSkills mentors, employers, training providers and colleges to ensure the very best are selected for Team UK to compete at WorldSkills.”

WorldSkills is the equivalent of the Olympics in skills and the 2017 Abu Dhabi event attracted 1,251 competitors from 59 countries which attracted more than 150,000 visitors.

Coleg Sir Gâr has a reputation for success in competing on a global level since 2009, representing areas including web design, carpentry, plastering and dry lining, restaurant services and hairdressing.

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