THIS year Welsh teachers will mark St David's Day by proclaiming independence from England.
From March 1, the Welsh national holiday, all new teaching graduates will be awarded their qualified teacher status by the General Teaching Council for Wales.
The award is administered through the Department for Education and Skills in London and the General Teaching Council for England. But the Welsh Assembly is developing its own brand of education through the curriculum, and the decision to award QTS shows increasing educational autonomy.
Alun Charles, director of school-based studies at Trinity College, Carmarthen, said: "It will lead to a greater Welsh perception of teacher training, linked to the Welsh dimension of the curriculum. It's likely in the next few years that the teacher-training qualification will differ."
Welsh universities run the same teacher-training as their English counterparts. However, Welsh trainees are also taught to include Welsh life and culture in their classes and can train through the medium of Welsh.
Gary Brace, GTCW chief executive, said the new qualification would be compatible with its English equivalent. "The curriculum might differ, exams might differ, but the standards of teaching remain the same," he said. "The key thing is the recognition of each other's QTS standards."
The GTCW will handle qualification and registration of teachers in Wales, thereby reducing the risk of registration delays for qualified teachers moving into Wales.
In England, the GTC awards QTS to new teachers on behalf of the Secretary of State for Education. But new regulations are currently being drawn up, and by the end of the year it expects to be able to award the qualification in its own right.