Undeb Cenedlaethol Athrawon Cymru

UCAC is Wales’s own education union for teachers, head-teachers, lecturers and tutors – the only teachers' union that puts Wales, and members in Wales, first. UCAC provides support for its members in the Welsh language and all its publications are in the Welsh language only.

UCAC offers a full professional service to its members, combining tailor-made advice and support with a strong union voice in campaigns. 

We are passionate about supporting and protecting our members, and about working towards an education system that meets the needs of Wales and everyone who lives here.



June 2024

Following changes to the Welsh Government Cabinet, UCAC welcomed the opportunity of meeting Lynne Neagle, the newly appointed Cabinet Secretary for Education.  During the meeting, there was a chance to discuss issues which currently are a matter of concern for our members.


The financial situation of our schools is worrying, with many schools having to seek means of saving money.  Inevitably this leads to fewer resources, depleted staff and a curtailing of opportunities for our pupils at a time when schools are having to grapple with radical changes to the curriculum, assessment and ALN provision.    


Faced with a new curriculum for Wales, new ALN legislation, the introduction of new qualifications for learners aged 14-16, teachers' workload is oppressive.  Although discussions are underway and working groups have been established to try to address the workload issue, so far there is very little evidence of change in our schools.  The problem needs to be addressed by means of practical, concrete steps, thus ensuring better working conditions for teachers which subsequently will render the profession more attractive.  


One of the areas that has added significantly to teacher workload is the new Additional Learning Needs Act.  Classroom teachers as well as the Additional Learning Needs Coordinators (ALNCo) are faced with significant demands. So far, no specific pay scale or working conditions have been assigned to the ALNCo role, which is a very important role.  As a result, several ALNCos have resigned, with some going so far as to leave the profession due to the excessive demands of the post.  The new Act poses challenges, a fact which is being recognised in sectors beyond education.  For the benefit of learners and staff, something must be done urgently.


Ensuring an adequate workforce for the future is vital, but challenging, a challenge which is further compounded by the requirement to be able to teach through the medium of Welsh.   Steps must be taken to promote the profession in such a way that will attract young people, and every effort made to ensure adequate training to teach through the medium of Welsh.   Not only is it necessary to have the workforce to teach in our Welsh-medium schools, but bilingual and English-medium schools need to progress along the language continuum. To realise the Government's ambition of one million Welsh speakers by 2050, bold steps need to be taken.

During our meeting, there was also an opportunity to express our views on the nature of Welsh language provision.  The Welsh language should not be taught for the sole purpose of passing exams or performing, but in such a way that will foster learners who will be able to use Welsh on a day-to-day basis, in everyday life and work. 


With the introduction of new qualifications for pupils aged 14-16, adequate support must be provided for teachers. Every effort should be taken to ensure high quality professional training is available to all those who will be teaching the new courses.  It has been promised that all Welsh resources will be published at the same time as the corresponding resources in English. It was stressed that this is critical, but unfortunately there are examples in the past where this has not been the case. 


In recent years, there has been a clear deterioration in pupil behaviour and the recent incidents  have highlighted the need to address discipline problems in our educational institutions.  Something more than a 'toolkit' is needed to ensure that our schools are safe places for our learners and staff. 


The Cabinet Secretary listened carefully and appeared sympathetic to the comments made.  Soon, she will not be 'new on the job' and it is hoped that we will soon see her clearly declaring her support for teachers and acting positively on their behalf.  She herself has said during her first days in post ‘my starting point will always be the best interests of our learners, and in particular our children and young people’.  We trust that she will realise that there is a close connection between the best interests of children and young people and the wellbeing of teachers and staff in school.  We look forward to seeing close attention being accorded to the best interest of our workforce.  We shall have to wait and see - Time will tell!


21 November 2023 



UCAC is extremely disappointed that Welsh Government has published its consultation on the school year without fully engaging in advance with the teaching unions.  The Union feels that Welsh Government did not pay sufficient attention to practical points nor to the pedagogical aspects of such changes, when drawing up its plans for a revised school year.  Significant changes to the school calendar require detailed planning, addressing the implications of those changes on all pupils, parents and staff.  By proposing to extend the summer term, Welsh pupils would still be in school during the week of the Royal Welsh Show.  The show is the pinnacle of the agricultural year for many families associated with the agricultural industry, an industry which plays such a vital role in Wales.   Removing a week from the current summer holidays would also have a detrimental effect on secondary school leaders and some secondary school teachers whose summer holidays are already curtailed as they deal with A level and GCSE results during the month of August.   The proposal to shorten the autumn term by a week will increase the pressure on teachers and pupils following examination courses, as they will have less time to fulfil the demands of the examination syllabus.  These changes to the school calendar are proposed for the academic year 2025-2026 and therefore will coincide with the introduction of the new GCCSEs.  Education in Wales has faced substantial changes and challenges during the last few years.  Pupils and school staff have had to contend with revolutionary reforms, such as the new curriculum, new ALN legislation, as well as all the challenges which came as the result of the pandemic.  The Union believes that the best way of supporting ‘learners’ and staff’s wellbeing’ is by ensuring a period of stability in our schools.  There is a very real danger that the current recruitment and retention challenge will be further intensified in face of so many radical changes.