pound;500 training bonus urged

29th July 2005 at 01:00
The General Teaching Council for Wales wants to establish a much clearer careerpath , reports Felicity Waters

Every teacher in Wales should receive pound;500 a year for training to update and improve their skills, says the profession's watchdog.

The call is part of the General Teaching Council for Wales's final recommendations to the Assembly government for a framework aimed at recognising teachers who have reached certain professional "milestones" in their career.

The teaching body, which described the structure as "a guiding light" for the profession, wants up to pound;20 million a year to be allocated to individually-focused professional development - up by pound;18m on last year's amount - which would give every teacher around pound;500 a year for training.

But as its report landed on the desk of education minister Jane Davidson this week, one teaching union called for the GTCW framework to be scrapped.

It is not linked to extra pay, and the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers Cymru says it is "the last thing" teachers need in a profession dogged by bureaucracy.

The GTCW says there is no clear career path through the profession, and no funding strategy for ensuring teachers get the training they need to develop their careers. Opportunities, it says, are "an accident of geography". Its professional development framework, consisting of five professional milestones, is aimed at helping teachers develop their careers and gain recognition for their experience. Three of the milestones (qualified teacher status, induction and headship) are already statutory and have professional standards and pay linked to them. The others (chartered teacher for experienced classroom practitioners, and middle leader for heads of department and subject leaders) are aimed at staff who do not necessarily want more responsibility but would like their experience recognised. They would have to meet new standards, but would not get more pay.

A survey of nearly 1,000 teachers found three-quarters favoured the principle of a professional development framework.

Gary Brace, chief executive of the GTCW, said the status acquired through the framework would be an incentive for teachers to remain in the classroom. "We want this to be of assistance to teachers; something they can use to plan their careers that is built on the philosophy of valuing what they do. It is all about taking a long-term view of education, and ultimately, having well-equipped, well-qualified teachers is at the centre of the process of improving standards and performance."

But teaching unions remain split. There have also been questions over whether the proposal is beyond the remit of the GTCW.

Geraint Davies, general secretary of NASUWT Cymru, said: "At a time when strenuous efforts are being made to reduce teacher workload, all this will do is throw extra bureaucracy at teachers and place a further drain on existing school budgets."

Anna Brychan, director of the National Association of Head Teachers Cymru, said the current arrangements were not wholly coherent but changes divorced from pay and conditions "may compound the confusion".

The National Union of Teachers Cymru backs the new plan in principle but has concerns about cash.

Jane Davidson said she saw the framework as an "important step in recognising the different stages and expectations of teachers as they progress though their career".

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