Pay increases for Welsh teachers could in future be linked to how well they do against targets set in their annual performance management reviews.
The change would bring Wales more in line with pay arrangements in England, where the Westminster government is consulting on new regulations that would make a direct link between pay and performance.
However, the Assembly government has again reiterated it has no desire for pay and conditions to be devolved to Cardiff. Unions had feared that doing so would lead to lower pay levels in Wales (TES Cymru, May 26).
Philip Dixon, director of the Association of Teachers and Lecturers Cymru, said it was important that arrangements either side of Offa's Dyke were similar to ensure all teachers had a fair deal.
"Our understanding is that in England, if you meet all your performance management objectives, you will progress to the next pay point. Currently in Wales, you could hit all your objectives and still be told 'Sorry, we can't fund it'," he said.
Brian Rowlands, secretary of the Association of School and College Leaders Cymru, said: "Performance management should be one element in consideration of pay progression and not the prime evidence. We approve of the Assembly government's approach to this."
But the National Union of Teachers, which never signed the workload agreement, still opposes linking pay and performance management in both countries.
The union threatened the Westminister government with judicial review after it was excluded from discussions on the draft English regulations, forcing an extension on consultations to August 30.
David Evans, secretary of NUT Cymru, said English-style performance management linked to pay would mean extra work for headteachers and heads of department, and could disadvantage some teachers. "Teachers in more deprived areas or less academic schools could be doing just as good work as colleagues elsewhere, but may lose out because the measure of success isn't as obvious."
He noted that the Assembly government itself had previously expressed concerns about linking pay with appraisal systems developed to help improve individual teachers' performance via professional development.
Ensuring consistency in teachers' pay arrangements between the two countries has become more complex with devolution. Pay and conditions remain a Westminster responsibility, but the Assembly government determines other policies - such as performance management regulations and teacher standards -that may affect pay decisions.
In its submission this week to the School Teachers Review Body, the Assembly government said changes to the teachers' pay document "could allow for the outcomes of performance management reviews (in Wales) to provide the basis for decisions about pay progression". It suggested new wording would require schools to consider how well a teacher had done against criteria agreed at the start of the review period.
This change could be accommodated within existing regulations in Wales - thus avoiding a "requirement" on the Assembly government to introduce performance management legislation similar to the draft England regulations. Such a requirement might have been seen as encroaching on the Assembly's devolved powers.
Meanwhile, the Assembly government reiterated that it is not interested in bringing power over teachers' pay and conditions to Cardiff "while there is no appetite for it".
Teaching unions remain opposed to such a move. However, the NUT Cymru this week conceded there could be advantages - not least, the likelihood of more constructive discussions with Cardiff than Westminster.