An ambitious plan to reward experienced teachers in Wales with chartered status could falter if the issue of pay is not resolved, education and lifelong learning minister Jane Davidson has warned. She fears teachers will think there is extra pay with chartered status, as in Scotland, although there are no plans for this in Wales.
The minister quizzed representatives from the General Teaching Council for Wales about her reservations after Assembly members were told teachers had welcomed proposals for a professional development framework.
The GTCW has devised five professional milestones aimed at helping teachers to develop their careers. These include qualified teacher status; induction, classroom excellence or chartered status (for experienced staff); middle leadership (for heads of departments); and headship.
Although QTS, induction and headship already have established standards and related pay scales, the GTCW framework is not linked to pay.
Ms Davidson warned that the relationship between teachers' pay and the new framework needed to be fully resolved before the new structure was up and running. She said more clarity was needed on how the new Wales-only professional standards would sit effectively with recommendations from the School Teachers' Review Body (STRB) on pay and conditions, and if there would be a conflict of interest.
The GTCW, which was addressing the Welsh Assembly's education and lifelong learning committee last week, said the relationship between pay and the proposed framework had been explored in depth with members of a task force set up to consider the scheme. Gary Brace, GTCW chief executive, said it had been generally agreed by teachers, unions, local education authorities and teacher-training providers that the two areas could sit comfortably with each other.
But Ms Davidson's reservations follow criticism of the professional development proposals by the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers in Wales. Secretary Geraint Davies said the GTCW, which is primarily a disciplinary body for teachers, should never have become involved in the development of the professional framework. He maintained pay and conditions of service are not in the body's remit.
The union is also concerned that different professional standards in Wales would inevitably lead to the separation of pay and conditions from those in England, which it considers unacceptable.
The introduction of the framework would cause "deep unfairness and inequality throughout the teaching profession in Wales", and pose an extra hurdle to teachers' career development.
Mr Brace and GTCW chairman Mal Davies made their presentation to the Assembly two months after widespread consultation among teachers and task-force representatives ended. Mr Brace said their research found teachers were taken with the chance to gain chartered status and recognition for their hard work. Three-quarters of 1,000 primary and secondary teachers had welcomed the framework.
The introduction of five milestones would mean middle managers, such as heads of years, would be able to gain letters after their name without going on to senior management.
The National Union of Teachers Cymru has given its support to the GTCW's plans. Dr Heledd Hayes, education officer, said the extra training and status was invaluable for career development.
But there was opposition from Assembly member Denise Idris Jones, a former teacher. The Labour AM for Conwy attacked the proposals, saying she was fearful teachers would feel forced into reaching the milestones, causing bad morale and ill-feeling among teaching staff.