It came as a surprise to the Council this morning to see the Minister for Education Kirsty Williams announce a pay award for the teaching profession in Wales averaging some 3.1% to come into place from September. Whilst not against the spirit of the award the announcement leaves some very important questions unanswered.
Councillor Richard John, Cabinet Member for Education said: “We hugely value the role of teachers. We are clear that high quality teaching is one of the greatest gifts that can be offered to a child. I am pleased the Welsh Government want to recognise this by way of a pay award but I am deeply concerned that they have not announced at the same time that they intend to fully fund it. This will place an additional financial pressure on every council in Wales. I believe the Minister should be clear that Welsh Government will fully fund this award.”
Phil Murphy, Cabinet Member for Resources added: “It is somewhat ironic that this announcement is made on the day we share a Cabinet report setting out the significant financial challenges that we need to address. It is simply not helpful to add further pressures. I think the Minister and her officials need to show leadership here and will the ‘means’ and not just the ‘ends’. If education is our National Mission then lets act accordingly. I fear that as things stand we are passing a problem straight to governing bodies and headteachers who will have to make cuts in their school budgets, possibly redundancies, to take forward an unfunded pay award.”
Leader of the Council Peter Fox added: “Throughout the COVID-19 period, we have seen public service in Wales come together like never before and now we find ourselves in a position where different pay awards are being offered to doctors, nurses, teachers, civil servants and other professional groups. This just isn’t good enough from my perspective. This is a year to recognise every public servant in exactly the same way. Everyone has played their part and we have needed every single one of them, so how about we show our appreciation to the whole public service with a pay award that has parity and is fully funded across all of our public services. The award needs to be affordable and cognisant of the recession we are in and the number of people that are currently losing their jobs. This would be real leadership from Welsh Government and it would be good to see.”