What does the devolution of teachers’ pay and conditions mean for the Welsh education system?

Published 26/03/2018   |   Last Updated 27/05/2021   |   Reading Time minutes

Prior to the Wales Act 2017, the responsibility for setting teachers’ pay and conditions in both England and Wales lay with the UK Government’s Secretary of State for Education. The Wales Act 2017 amended the Government of Wales Act 2006 and devolved powers to Wales including control of teachers’ pay and conditions of service in Wales. From September 2018, under the Welsh Ministers (Transfer of Functions) Order 2018, the Welsh Government will be responsible for determining pay and conditions for teachers in Wales. These powers are planned to be used from September 2019 onwards.

The Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams AM issued a written statement on 14 December 2017 regarding The Future of Teachers’ Pay and Conditions.

In her statement, the Cabinet Secretary outlined the responsibilities that Welsh Ministers will have once the function of determining teachers’ pay and conditions is devolved to Wales, enabling a more ‘made-in-Wales’ system. Kirsty Williams also stated there would be a public consultation regarding teacher’s pay and conditions. As part of this work the Welsh Government has established an Independent Task and Finish Group to run in parallel with the consultation, with the primary focus on how the pay and conditions structure can contribute to a highly motivated teaching profession, strengthening the quality of the Welsh education system.

The Task and Finish Group

On 19 January 2018 the Task and Finish Group, called for the public’s views on teachers’ current pay and conditions in Wales, seeking the views of consultees from within and outside the education system. This Independent review of school teachers’ pay and conditions in Wales, is chaired by Professor Mick Waters and assisted by Professor Melanie Jones and Sir Professor Alasdair Macdonald. It aims to evaluate the current structures of teachers’ pay and conditions to determine whether these are effective and best suited to the teaching profession in Wales. The Group will consider how the terms and conditions for teachers can be adapted to better suit Wales, making the teaching profession ‘more attractive, rewarding and fulfilling’ according to the consultation document published by the Welsh Government. The Group will report its recommendations to the Cabinet Secretary by autumn 2018 in order to inform the remit for future discussions on teachers’ pay and discussions.

The Task and Finish Group’s call for views ended on 1 March 2018. The Group will continue to run parallel to the Devolution of teachers’ pay and conditions consultation which the Cabinet Secretary for Education launched on (9 March 2018).


The Welsh Government’s consultation document, Proposed mechanism for determining teachers’ pay and conditions – Consultation on the new mechanism (model process) to determine teachers’ pay and conditions of service in Wales, will inevitably generate debate regarding the new proposed model. The Cabinet Secretary stated on the day on consultation launch,

“Let’s work together and seize the opportunity of devolved teachers’ pay and conditions.”

The consultation aims to gather views on the new proposed mechanism “Teacher Engagement Model” for deciding teachers’ pay and conditions in Wales.

Teacher Engagement Model

The consultation proposes a ‘Teacher Engagement Model’ that combines elements from other education models. The Welsh Government also says it is based on its government-wide focus on committing to partnership, collaboration and evidence-based policy development. In summary, the proposed model would operate on an annual basis, combining independently appointed experts in a structured review body, and a social partnership. This mechanism is seen by the Welsh Government as the best place for discussion, shared decision making and delivering innovation in future education priorities.

The model proposes collaboration between trade unions and employers, with the Welsh Government to form a Partnership Forum, which will consider and gives its views on a draft remit issued by the Welsh Ministers to a Welsh Pay and Review body. The Welsh Ministers will consider the Partnership Forum’s views before issuing a final remit to the Pay and Review body, which will take evidence before making recommendations to the Welsh Ministers. The Welsh Ministers will then consult on their proposals following the Pay and Review body’s recommendations before a final annual determination is made by way of Order (under section 122 of the Education Act 2002.)

The Annex to the consultation document provides a step-by-step guide to the proposed model.

The NASUWT published a press release commenting on the public consultation launch. The General Secretary of the NASUWT stated that it is “…deeply disappointing that a process which is so fundamentally important to teachers and which should be the subject of discussion and agreement between the Welsh Government, the NASUWT and other recognised unions has been put out to public consultation.”

Further, the NASUWT stated that the Welsh Government needed to honour the commitment made by the First Minister that teachers in Wales will not being worse off in their conditions of service.

Supply Teachers

In response to the Children, Young People and Education Committee’s Inquiry into Supply Teaching (December 2015), the Welsh Government established the Supply Model Taskforce. This examined future delivery options for supply teaching in Wales. The report outlined ten recommendations for the supply teaching workforce and was published in February 2017. It found that there is no ‘one size fits all’ answer that could reform supply teaching conditions across Wales imminently. It also suggested that if pay and conditions were to be devolved, the Welsh Government could take more of a pro-active approach to the setting of pay and conditions for supply teachers. The Cabinet Secretary responded to this in her written statement on 2 February 2017 noting that improvements were needed in the employment, management and support provided to supply teachers across Wales.

Written Questions to the Cabinet Secretary for Education from AMs in 2017 and 2018, and Plenary questions to the Cabinet Secretary on 24 October 2017 further raised the issue of supply teachers’ conditions. Members asked about the Welsh Government’s implementation of the recommendations of the taskforce into supply teaching and if the Independent Task and Finish Group Review would include supply teachers in their remit. The Cabinet Secretary responded by outlining that the Task and Finish Group is expected to look at areas within the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document, as well as topics outside its remit including impact on the terms and conditions for supply teachers and teaching assistants directly employed by maintained schools.

The Chair of the Children, Young People and Education Committee wrote to the Cabinet Secretary regarding pay and conditions for supply teachers after noting correspondence between the Cabinet Secretary and Fair Deal for Supply Teachers during Committee on 7 February 2018. The Cabinet Secretary’s response (PDF 263KB) was published as a paper to note for the Committee’s meeting on 22 March 2018 (add link 16 March).

The consultation into the Proposed mechanism for determining teachers’ pay and conditions will close on 4 May 2018. Further information is available online from the Welsh Government.

The Research Service acknowledges the parliamentary fellowship provided to Hayley Moulding by the Medical Research Council (MRC), which enabled this blog to be completed.

Article by Hayley Moulding, National Assembly for Wales Research Service