By Elizabeth Williams, Senior Professional Officer (Wales)
The Independent Welsh Pay Review Body (IWPRB) is a vital component of the devolved process for determining teachers' pay and conditions in Wales. We consider that the IWPRB's seven recommendations in its 2nd report, which was published on 29 July 2020, are a step in the right direction and we welcome its recommendations regarding the introduction of national pay scales and the removal of performance-related pay but, as with last year's report, we remain disappointed with its recommendations for pay increases.
We are disappointed that the IWPRB did not accept our demand for an across-the-board pay rise for all teachers and leaders of 5%.
We are pleased to see that the Cabinet Minister for Education has acted promptly in accepting in principle all of the IWPRB's recommendations, but we are also disappointed that the Minister is proposing a 3.1% overall pay rise which, although higher than the IWPRB's overall recommendation, does not compensate for the years of cuts to teachers' pay.
Whilst we acknowledge that there are serious issues regarding the recruitment and retention of graduates and early years teachers, we are further concerned that the IWPRB has seen fit to recommend the removal of the first pay point in the Main Pay Range so that the minimum pay point will receive an 8.48% rise. Although the Cabinet Minister is proposing a pay rise of 3.75% for the remaining points, we note that the Upper Pay Range and the Leadership Pay Range will only receive a 2.75% increase.
We believe that that the increasing reduction in differentials within and between pay ranges indicates that more senior teachers and senior leaders will not feel valued in the essential role that they play in the education system in Wales, and that this may lead to further disincentives for teachers to progress to senior leadership roles. This is already a matter of concern and is going to get worse unless senior teachers and senior leaders receive proper and proportionate pay increases.
We were pleased to see many different aspects of our written submissions quoted by the IWPRB – in particular, our evidence on recruitment targets, pay scales and flexibilities, TLRs and pay portability, in addition to several pieces of research that we cited.
We believe that our evidence played a significant part in persuading the IWPRB to make certain of its recommendations that we support, and that have been proposed to be implemented by the Cabinet Minister.
Recommendations to be welcomed
We welcome the following recommendations made by the IWPRB and proposed to be implemented by the Cabinet Minister:
- The introduction of National Pay Scales with the basis for support including the provision of a clear and transparent structure; the simplification of the pay system; and a more cost-effective solution in the Welsh context.
- The removal of Performance-Related Pay: As we recommended in our written submission, the IWPRB states that, only in cases where a formal capability process has been involved, should incremental annual progression be paused until such time as the process has been concluded, and that appraisals should now focus on the development, enhancement and improvement of an individual teacher's performance, using the Professional Teaching Standards to assist in this process.
- Standardised Pay Portability should be reintroduced as a statutory requirement in Wales from September 2021 and be implemented on a voluntary basis before then.
- TLRs: We stated that TLRs were a useful feature of the pay structure but were currently inconsistently and unfairly applied. The IWPRB accepted this assertion and has recommended that a review of TLRs should be undertaken as part of future IWPRB remits.
- Workload: Although the IWPRB acknowledges that workload is affecting the recruitment and retention of teachers and leaders, we would have liked to see more concrete recommendations requiring ascertainable outputs in the reduction of workload and bureaucracy by the end of the next academic year, particularly in the current COVID-19 context.
- Timing of the annual pay round: Although we would have liked to have seen a more explicit condemnation of the delays to the process caused by the Welsh Government and the missing of the deadline to submit evidence by the Welsh Local Government Association, we are pleased that the IWPRB has recommended that the Welsh Government reviews its process for the 2021 remit to allow the IWPRB and its consultees (including Voice) to have a complete annual cycle to engage fully on the matters for consideration. This, in fact, is now taking place as part of the Teachers' Pay and Conditions Partnership Forum meetings, of which Voice is a member.
- Equalities: We cited evidence to the IWPRB regarding the lower proportion of women in leadership positions compared to the general teaching workforce, and evidence showing that the gender pay gap in education is significantly worse than the average gender pay gap. Therefore, we were pleased that the IWPRB referred to this and asked the Welsh Government to remind local authorities and school governing bodies of their legal requirement to monitor and report on the equalities aspects of pay decisions.
Voice Cymru: Announcement on teacher pay (Wales) (29 July 2020)
Welsh Government (29 July 2020):