Charting the way in Wales

Some Celtic divergence has emerged this week on the virtue of chartered teachers. The Assembly government in Wales is currently considering whether to emulate the Scottish classroom initiative as a way of rewarding effective teachers and stimulating good practice - but it is getting conflicting advice.

The General Teaching Council for Wales is hoping 250 experienced classroom practitioners, subject leaders and department heads a year will enrol for the new status, which it wants to pilot from September next year.

The GTC in Wales has no statutory responsibility for teachers' pay, which is still determined in Westminster, so there is no link to pay, and the scheme will be optional.

Chartered teachers in Scotland earn up to pound;38,013 compared with Pounds 31,008 for an unpromoted teacher on maximum pay. In England and Wales, effectiveness in the classroom can be rewarded if teachers make it through a "performance threshold" on to upper pay scales.

The National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Woman Teachers, has reiterated its opposition to the Welsh proposals, and accused the Welsh GTC of straying beyond its key remit of registering and disciplining teachers.

In draft advice to the assembly government, it proposes two routes to becoming a chartered teacher, as in Scotland - a taught programme and accreditation based on a portfolio of evidence. The portfolio could cost up to pound;1,500, based on the current cost in Scotland of pound;1,200, which is set to rise. But the draft advice "strongly recommends" that the assembly should fund the scheme nationally - at pound;2 million a year - to ensure there are no financial barriers to applying.

Preparing and presenting a portfolio could take as little as 12 months, but completing chartered status via a taught programme would usually take at least two years. Those with five or more years service would be eligible, with a maximum of 1,000 in the chartered system at any one time.

Geraint Davies, secretary of NASUWT Cymru, said the scheme should be scrapped. "Chartered status is not needed in Wales," he said. "We have NQT and induction standards for entrants, and threshold standards for those who have spent a good time in the classroom."

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