26 July 2018

Joint statement from the Association of School and College Leaders (ASCL) Cymru, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) Cymru, the National Education Union (NEU) Cymru, Voice, and Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru (UCAC)

Teachers’ pay award

This statement follows the announcement on the teachers’ pay award made by the Secretary of State for Education, Damian Hinds, in the House of Commons on Tuesday 24 July. The fact that it comes jointly from several education unions in Wales demonstrates our grave concern about how this pay award will be funded in Wales and the potential impact on Welsh schools.
The decision on teachers’ pay is currently not a devolved matter and applies to teachers and leaders in both England and Wales. However, there is no additional government funding for either England or Wales.

The DfE is providing some additional funding from within its own budgets for English schools, but no arrangements have been announced for Welsh schools.
It is disingenuous to announce a pay award for teachers in England and Wales and then not fund that award for a proportion of teachers. Our unions feel it is incumbent upon the Treasury to fund the pay award in full for all teachers and leaders in both England and Wales.

Should the Treasury not decide to fully fund this award, we would urge the Welsh Government to follow up its many assertions of valuing its teachers, by finding the funding needed to ensure that the cost of this award is covered in full and does not put an unaffordable pressure on school budgets which are already under severe strain. This additional cost would inevitably drive more schools into deficit and necessitate cutbacks which will impact on pupils.

We are surprised and disappointed that little thought appears to have been given to how this award will be funded in Wales. We would have expected that consideration would have been given to this matter prior to Tuesday’s announcement and that it would have been accompanied with information about how the award would be met in Wales.
We are sending this statement to the Treasury, the Department for Education in Westminster and to the Welsh Government and we are inviting them to respond accordingly.

We note also that the pay award itself fails to recognise the hard work and professionalism of many senior teachers and leaders. While we welcome an uplift of 3.5% for teachers on the main pay range – after many years of pay caps and pay freezes – teachers on the upper and leadership ranges will receive a below-inflation pay award, which goes directly against the independent advice from the School Teachers’ Review Body to award them 3.5%.

As this is a cost-of-living increase it is invidious to pay it at different rates when all teachers and leaders deserve an award which at least maintains the value of their salaries. It also fails to address the need to ensure that we retain more experienced teachers and leaders in the profession.

19 July 2018

Report on lack of textbooks and resources welcomed

In response to a report published today by the National Assembly for Wales’s Children, Young People and Education Committee, Elaine Edwards, UCAC General Secretary said:

“We are very pleased that the Committee has chosen to dedicate time to investigating this problem which has been plaguing teachers and pupils in the Welsh medium sector in particular for many years.

“It’s clear that an over-ambitious timetable for qualifications reform led to the extreme problems over the last three years. And we should take care to heed that warning with enormous reforms to the curriculum fast approaching.

“However, the problems are, in fact, more deeply rooted and systemic. They have to do with the way in which resources are commissioned, by who, and when. It’s time to change our approach to this process entirely and ensure that we are commissioning far more resources in Wales specifically for Wales.

“Essentially, it’s a matter of ensuring fairness and respect to pupils and teachers in all schools across Wales, irrespective of the language of instruction.”

ENDS

Notes

For further information please contact:

  • Rebecca Williams: 07787 572180 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

20 June 2018

A call to review school funding

Following the publication today of a Report by the Welsh Assembly's Children, Young People and Education Committee into the targeting of funding  to improve educational outcomes for disadvantaged children, Elaine Edwards, UCAC's General Secretary said:

"The Committee has identified the additional strain on schools due to under-funding. The Welsh Government does not fund the Grant (Pupil Development Grant) based on the number of pupils who need the support at any given time. The recommendation to provide funding for sufficient numbers of pupils is an obvious but important one; implementing this recommendation could make a substantial difference to school budgets and pupil outcomes."

"Educational challenges faced by pupils do not change overnight when the home circumstances improve", she says " and the recommendation to extend support over a longer period is key to pupils' success."

"It is also clear that, at present, the funding is not effectively targeted at the needs of looked after children and adopted children; the Committee notes that improvements are necessary for the sake of these pupils." 

"UCAC welcomes, also, the reference to more able and talented pupils - and the need to ensure that the funding is targeted at all pupils from disadvantaged backgrounds so that they have a better chance of fulfilling their potential." 

"UCAC is aware that schools face insurmountable financial challenges at this time. Wider financial issues were not included in the Remit of the Committee's Inquiry and UCAC welcomes the recommendation that the Welsh Government  should "keep the sufficiency of funding for school budgets under review."

“Our schools are currently going through a financial crisis whch will undoubtedly affect pupil outcomes. UCAC calls on the Welsh Government to ensure sufficient funding for schools in general."

"We look forward to hearing the Welsh Government's response to the Report's recommendations."

 ENDS

Notes

  • UCAC is Wales’s own education union. It represents teachers, headteachers and lecturers in all education sectors across Wales.

For further information please contact:

  • Rebecca Williams: 07787 572180 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

15 June 2018

Scrapping free transport to Welsh-medium schools “totally unacceptable” says UCAC

In response to information that has come to light that Flintshire County Council is considering scrapping free transport for pupils attending Welsh-medium schools, Dilwyn Roberts-Young, UCAC teaching union’s Deputy General Secretary said:

“We are fully aware of the budgetary pressures that Local Authorities are facing. However, scrapping free transport to Welsh-medium schools would be a huge own goal. It is totally unacceptable that this matter is even under consideration.

“The Learner Travel (Wales) Measure 2008 places a responsibility on every Local Authority to “to promote access to education and training through the medium of Welsh.” Getting rid of this free transport would fly in the face of this statutory requirement and would actively raise barriers between pupils and Welsh-medium schools.

“The obvious result is that pupils will be compelled to attend an English-medium school closer to home, thereby depriving them of access to education in their mother-tongue, or in the case of non-native speakers, depriving them of the right to become natural, confident bilingual citizens of Wales.

“That would be a direct hit against the Welsh Government’s policy of creating a million Welsh-speakers by 2050.

“The proposal to discuss this matter suggests that Flintshire County Council are in a desperate financial situation. In which case, it is time for us to have a national debate about the funding levels and methodology for our education system.”

UCAC notes that Flintshire County Council’s Welsh in Education Strategic Plan (2017-2020) is entirely clear on the matter:

"Flintshire County Council meets the requirements of Section 10 of the Learner Travel Measure (Wales) 2008. The local authority’s School Transport Policy includes provision for pupils of compulsory school age to be provided with free transport to Welsh Medium Schools... Accessibility to education through the medium of Welsh is facilitated by the provision of a network of suitable transport routes and travel times are not excessive.”

In relation to post-16 education, the Plan states:

“Free transport is provided to learners who wish to access post 16 courses at the local authority’s Welsh medium Secondary School… whilst there are currently no plans to amend the policy, removal of this discretionary provision in the future could present a challenge in terms of learners’ ability to access Welsh medium post 16 education.”

ENDS

Notes

For further information please contact:

  • Rebecca Williams: 07787 572180 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

6 June 2018
Embargo: 7 June, 00:01

UCAC welcomes new vision for school inspection

UCAC education union has welcomed the vision presented in a report by Professor Graham Donaldson, published today, on the role and methods of the Welsh schools’ inspectorate, Estyn.

Rebecca Williams, UCAC’s Policy Officer said: “UCAC welcomes this report and the vision it outlines for the future inspection of schools in Wales.

“Far-reaching changes to the Welsh education system are on the way, and re-examining Estyn’s role is an important step in ensuring that all parts of the system are pulling in the same direction.

“Perhaps unsurprisingly, Professor Donaldson’s recommendations are perfectly in tune with the direction and ethos of the wider reform programme.  They strike a balance between continuing to provide assurance to the public about educational standards, and giving schools more responsibility for their own self-improvement.

“The emphasis on trust, joint-working, support and professional learning – as opposed to shock and awe, and public shaming – is particularly welcome. UCAC is confident that this approach will encourage a far more open, honest and mature system that will be more likely to lead to improvement for pupils.

“We urge Welsh Government and Estyn to look favourably on the recommendations in this report.”

ENDS

Notes

  • UCAC is Wales’s own education union. It represents teachers, headteachers and lecturers in all education sectors across Wales.

For further information please contact:

Rebecca Williams: 07787 572180 This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.