Mixed message on new award
OFFICIALS HAVE been accused of "spoiling" plans to give teachers the same professional status as doctors and lawyers by linking it with pay. Senior members of the General Teaching Council for Wales have gone on the defensive, claiming Jane Davidson, minister for education, lifelong learning and skills, has reneged on verbal agreements on the direction of the proposals made last year.
The GTCW has sold the chartered teacher scheme as a way of middle-management teachers gaining recognition. But, unlike Scotland, it says the qualification will not equate to a pay rise.
Senior GTCW members now say a letter sent to them by Ms Davidson favours widening the proposals for chartered teachers to include the skills sector, as well as linking the scheme to pay.
"This letter seems very far away from the approach I expected to receive,"
Gary Brace, GTCW chief executive, told delegates at their quarterly meeting in Swansea.
He was backed by chairman, Mal Davies, who said the written response bore little resemblance to previous discussions with the minister. "This letter seems to be completely counter to what we have heard before," said Mr Brace. "It smacks very strongly of civil service interference."
He claimed that at no time had the programme been designed with a view to linking its completion to teachers' pay or promotion prospects.
"This scheme is about helping teachers to take the next step professionally," he added.
But Tim Cox, a teacher at Bryn Hafren comprehensive in the Vale of Glamorgan, said his fellow council members were burying their heads in the sand if they believed the scheme would not be linked to pay.
"It is a nonsense to say that these things will not be pay-related," he said, during a heated exchange.
More than 300 Welsh teachers have already signed up for the pilot chartered teacher scheme, starting this September. The GTCW aims to create 1,000 new chartered teachers in Wales for both primary and secondary schools by 2012.
The healthy interest comes despite protests from unions in consultation over the "finer details", with some saying that it could put added pressure on teachers to advance their careers.
There are also fears it could bring on devolution of pay and conditions from the Westminster Government. The latest report from the School Teachers' Review Body (TES Cymru, February 9) does not rule out devolved pay in the future. But there is widespread opposition in Wales, with worries that it could lead to lower rates.
The STRB report also outlined recommendations to make teachers' pay more performance-related. One of the leading roles of the chartered secondary teacher would be to mentor new non-teaching recruits in the 14-19 pathways.
The official launch of plans to roll out the scheme was supposed to have included an address by Ms Davidson at Cardiff's Millennium Centre last month. However, it was scaled down as officials claimed she was never scheduled to speak.
An Assembly spokesperson said:J"The ministerJhas noted whatJthe GTCW has said about professional milestones sitting separately from pay grades or steps. However, her viewJremains that the framework must work within the context of the pay document."