Heavenly jump up scale

Review body calls for cash incentives to encourage more Welsh-language teachers

teachers who qualify to teach the language of heaven could leapfrog the pay scale if the Assembly government takes the advice of the latest report from the School Teachers' Review Board.

The independent body suggests that a shortage of Welsh teachers could be tackled with financial incentives for re-training, similar to the "golden hello" payments handed out to newly qualified maths, physics and chemistry teachers.

The report also says that sabbaticals, based on the current scheme for Welsh-language teachers, could be adopted universally for other shortage subjects.

The STRB's recommendations for both England and Wales were met with unease over moves towards performance-related pay that could see very good teachers jump ahead of more experienced teachers on the pay ladder.

An estimated 280,000 teachers outside London start on the main pay scale of pound;19,641, and are currently entitled to an annual pay rise unless their performance is poor or if they are subject to disciplinary action.

But Chris Keates, general secretary of teachers' union the NASUWT, said:

"There's nothing anyone on the main pay scale needs to worry about."

She said the best aspect of the report was the move towards parity of pay for part-time teachers. Wales-based unions had feared the STRB would back devolving power over teachers' pay to Wales, possibly leading to lower salaries.

But the body concluded in its 60-page-plus report that, despite "distinctions and differences" between Wales and England, essentially teachers' roles were the same. However, it said the matter would be reviewed again later.

The Assembly government will decide whether to take up the recommendations on cash incentives for new teachers. But it has already decided not to follow England with a pilot diploma scheme aimed at creating more maths, physics, and chemistry teachers, saying it wants to see the results first.

A spokesperson said: "We welcome the report asJits findings are consistent withJthe evidence the minister gaveJto the STRB inJOctober last year.JWeJwill need to consider further before commentingJon specifics."

The STRB heard it was increasingly difficult to detach pay from devolved matters, including funding and performance management.

Governors Wales, which gave evidence, said it expected policy and practice between Wales and England to diverge further. But even UCAC, the Welsh-language education union, did not back the transfer of pay that, along with teachers' conditions, is the last vestige of power held by Westminster.

Sources close to the STRB say there is a feeling within London circles that pay and conditions should be devolved "sooner rather than later" because it is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

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