Background to the industrial action campaign
Where are we now?
NAHT Cymru industrial action wins
A message from NAHT Cymru president
Background to the industrial action campaign
NAHT Cymru launched its first ever national industrial action ballot on pay, workload and funding in November 2022 following 10 years of pay erosion in Wales.
Our members returned a strong mandate of 95% in favour of action short of strike (ASOS) and 75% in favour of strike action.
On 1 February 2023, we began ASOS, withdrawing from certain administrative functions in a bid to bring the Welsh government and local authority employees to the negotiating table.
Our action resulted in an improved two-year pay offer, as well as the promise of a workload agreement and a funding review. The pay deal was an increase of 6.5% for 2022/23 (up from the Independent Welsh Pay Review Body’s recommendation of 5%) as well as a one-off payment of 1.5% and a 5% uplift for 2023/24 (up from the IWPRB recommendation of 3%).
In March, our members were reballoted on the offer which was rejected in the absence of a fully-funded pay deal and detailed workload agreement.
Our members continued to take action into the summer term, returning a further successful industrial action ballot to continue our ASOS until December 2023.
At the start of the autumn term 2023, NAHT had successfully negotiated a workload agreement, on which our members were balloted between 16 October 2023 and 22 October 2023. The Welsh Executive Committee are now reviewing the results of this vote, which will inform our next steps in the campaign. Members will be updated shortly.
Despite an improved pay deal in England, Welsh members continue to be financially better off than their English colleagues when it comes to pay for 2023/24.
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Where are we now?
NAHT Cymru members were asked to consider all that their industrial action has achieved so far, and let us know what they want to do next in a ballot that was held between 16 October 2023 and 22 October 2023. The Welsh Executive Committee are reviewing the results of this vote, which will inform our next steps in the campaign. Members will be updated shortly.
Below is a list of ten campaign 'wins' achieved through our industrial campaign so far.
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NAHT Cymru industrial action wins
Below you’ll find the commitments secured from the Welsh government as a result of NAHT Cymru's industrial action (click on each headline to see the full details):
A 6.5% uplift to pay and allowances (2022/23), a one-off payment of 1.5%, plus an additional 5% uplift (2023/24)
NAHT successfully negotiated an increase pay award for both years from the Welsh government. A 2022/23 offer was increased from the initial Independent Welsh Pay Review Body’s recommendation of 5%, and the 2023/24 uplift of 5% was increased from the IWPRB’s recommendation of 3%. This uplift, as well as the one-off payment for 2022/23, was the first time the Welsh government had gone against the IWPRB’s recommendation. NAHT will start negotiations on the 2024/25 pay offer in November 2023.
An additional £30m (2022/23) and £21.3m (2023/24) to local authorities to support teachers’ pay awards
This was a significant increase in funding for local authorities to support the pay award which is usually covered under the LA’s core funding from its Revenue Support Grant. However, given the financial pressures on LAs, the Welsh government gave additional funding on top of the RSG. However, not all LAs provided the Welsh government with actual staffing costs when asked how much additional money they would need to support the pay award. Therefore some LAs provided average staffing costs, others gave the AWPU figure. This resulted in the pay awards not being fully funded across Wales, depending on how an LA made its calculation. During the subsequent workload negotiations we asked the Welsh government to explore all options to funding pay, including it being directly funded from government to bring equity to the system.
The introduction of a workload impact assessment
This will be at the forefront of Welsh government policy development and will ensure appropriate consideration of workload implications and union engagement early in the policy making process. A professional learning programme for policy makers has been designed and will be operational in September. The Welsh government is also developing a digital tool designed to gather evidence from head teachers based on questions about what creates workload, which will lead to refining current arrangements and will support the ongoing impact assessment process. This tool will be in operation in the autumn term.
The workload assessment discussion has encompassed more than simply assessing the current impact of workload, it has also involved talks around the development of a mechanism to manage any additional workload for the profession. There is an acceptance that workload, particularly for school leaders, is high and that there must be a way of off-setting additional requirements for schools. Therefore, included in this work is a mechanism for trade unions and the profession to challenge and negotiate to ensure there is a balance for schools.
New reporting requirements
The Welsh government is taking forward a thorough policy review of the regulations with reporting requirements that impact on schools, to ensure that they are aligned with ministerial policy expectations and are as simple and coordinated as possible. There is also a range of non-statutory reporting requirements through the Welsh government, local authorities and regional consortia and partnerships. The Welsh government will develop a more coherent and simpler process for reporting to reduce burden, which will be grounded in the school improvement guidance.
The Welsh government will establish and chair a national forum to ensure schools are supported appropriately. Its role will include ensuring that there is clarity of purpose of all engagement in discussion with heads, and to foster purpose-driven collaboration to improve standards collectively.
In addition, Estyn has met with the unions, local authorities and regional consortia and partnerships and has agreed the following areas for further work:
- Revision of the information Estyn requires schools and PRUs to present at the pre-inspection stage
- Concerted communication campaign to ensure that schools and PRUs are clear about the requirements
- A more consistent approach to supporting schools post-inspection, particularly if they go into a statutory category. This will include ensuring a closer link between the school’s post-inspection action plan and the local authority’s statement of action.
IWPRB to change school leaders’ conditions of service for 2023/24
The education minister Jeremy Miles has agreed that conditions of service for leaders will form part of the IWPRB Pay Review Remit for 2024/25. Teacher unions have also agreed to include a list of administrative and clerical tasks in STPC(W)D for 2023.
The well-being of our members remains a campaign priority for NAHT. Therefore, we are putting forward proposals on protected leave and working hours for school leaders to be part of the IWPRB's strategic review. If the government is serious about supporting the well-being of the workforce, this is an absolute must.
Improve professional offer
The Welsh government will continue to develop and improve equity of access to professional learning in line with the National Entitlement. The education minister Jeremy Miles will be announcing shortly how the Welsh government will deliver the quality assurance of professional learning in the system that should refine and improve the offer across the board. The Welsh government has worked with practitioners and the education workforce unions to revise the guidance for performance management to ensure that this is a meaningful process that supports practitioners to continuously develop themselves as committed professional learners.
Establishment of an ALNco task and finish group to review concerns around workload and inconsistent support
Education minister Jeremy Miles has already taken action, in response to workload pressures, by previously announcing additional funding for schools and an extension to the implementation of the ALN system from three years to four years. He has nearly doubled the funding to education partners for ALN implementation, investing £12m in 23-24, and 24-25 to boost resources that are needed to successfully embed the ALN reforms. He has also written to head teachers to reiterate that the £10.4m available to schools is for the purposes of releasing or backfilling ALNCo time, promoting whole school planning and embedding of ALN in school improvement priorities.
The Welsh government is alert to concerns about the increased workload placed upon ALNCos and the need for schools to ensure there is sufficient support around the ALNCo to prevent them becoming isolated and overwhelmed with caseloads. The ALN Code makes clear that the designation of an ALNCo does not remove the responsibilities of the wider workforce. An ALNCo task and finish group made up of practitioners and trade union representatives is underway and will review and provide recommendations on ALNCo pay and non-contact time by December 2023.
The Welsh government will continue to work with the unions to collect evidence on workforce issues relating to ALN and respond accordingly to help alleviate workload pressures and protect quality of provision to meet the needs of learners.
There has already been some progress in this area, with NAHT leading the charge in recommendations that will go to the minister regarding the role of the ALNco. In September, the Welsh government also announced an additional £20m in support for schools to develop learning spaces for children and young people with additional learning needs, on the back of calls by NAHT to step up investment for infrastructure projects.
An additional INSET day for the next two years
The Welsh government has announced that an additional INSET day has been introduced for the current and next two academic years to support the Curriculum for Wales, ALN reform and Equity in Education. This is to allow schools more time to dedicate to training and support for education reforms.
Streamlining of grant reporting and reviewing school funding formulas
The Welsh government is working with local authorities and regional partnerships to simplify and streamline the reporting of grant funding and other reporting out-turns, bringing as much as possible into a single reporting space. In this financial year, it has already reduced the reporting requirement across eight grant lines. Work is also underway to review the Education Improvement Grant and Pupil Development Grant with a view to simplifying the direct passporting of funding to schools. The Welsh government is continuing to implement the recommendations from the Review of School Funding in Wales, including consideration of local authority school funding formulas and the School Funding Regulations with the aim of providing more flexibility to allow local authorities to better support schools to manage their budgets and provide greater transparency, comparability and consistency in the system.
A review of education partners – specifically improvement partners
Education minister Jeremy Miles recently announced a review into the role and responsibilities of education partners. This will provide the means to consider in a collective, timely and transparent way what the system needs as the Welsh government looks to the future, and provide an opportunity to support the creation of space for positive, supportive, purpose-driven collaboration through reducing unnecessary bureaucracy.
The school improvement review has already begun, with LAs facilitating meetings between Dr Dylan Jones (who is leading the review) and school leaders. To ensure that all NAHT members have an opportunity to feed into this review, we are facilitating our own online meeting with Dr Jones and our members.
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On 16 October, NAHT Cymru went out to members via electronic ballot to seek their views on bringing the current industrial action to an end. The response will determine whether we end our dispute or continue with ASOS. Our current ASOS mandate runs until Christmas so we would have to carry out another statutory action ballot via post to continue beyond that. The ballot closed on 22 October 2023 and the Welsh Executive Committee are now reviewing the results, which will inform our next steps in the campaign. Members will be updated shortly.
Whatever the decision of our electronic ballot, industrial action is just one tool open to us as a union to further the aims and objectives of our members. The following timeline illustrates the plans for reform that are already underway, while new campaigning for further improvements will begin next month.
Fair funding remains a top priority for our members in Wales and we are preparing to relaunch our funding campaign that will run alongside the discussions with the Welsh government.
In November, NAHT Cymru will publish a report on the impact of underfunding, lifting the lid on the hidden impact of budget cuts on schools. This document will be the catalyst for localised campaigning, taking this to civic centres across the nation and debating the findings with local authorities who ultimately make the decisions on school funding. We need to demonstrate that the decisions they make have a direct impact on the education delivered in the communities they are elected to serve.
More information on the localised campaigns will be shared with members, which will include an activists pack on how you can be involved. We will call on members to attend council meetings, demonstrate outside council offices and show your support in the public galleries while we debate the issues with the powers that be. We will also call on other unions, parents and governors to join us in showing their support for our common goal – to protect education for learners across Wales.
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Message from Suzanne Hamer, NAHT Cymru president
It has been a great pleasure to see so many members over the last few weeks as we have toured around the branches. Your branch officials work tirelessly on your behalf and bring your voices to the table when we meet half termly but there is nothing better than meeting members and hearing first-hand what is working well and what the challenges are. Whilst each branch will have its own local spin, the concerns are very much the same across the country - ALN, workload, funding and pay.
Myself and members of the Wales National Executive met with the Minister for Education and the Welsh Language, Jeremy Miles MS, and Owain Lloyd, Director of Education for Welsh Government earlier this week (October 11) to discuss a number of key areas of our Industrial Action campaign. We were reassured by their commitment to act.
Throughout the year, Laura has kept us up to date on the robust negotiations that have been taking place. Here on this page, we outline in more detail exactly where we are and what progress has been made towards our requests. I urge that you read this carefully before responding to our indicative ballot. If you have any questions, please speak to your branch secretary or any of the NAHT Cymru Executive.
During the last year, as always, you have conducted yourselves with integrity, kept schools open and learners learning whilst at the same time taking a stand for change. You should be proud of yourselves.
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