Senedd Bites #38: Teacher pay rise cash boost & more

(Title Image: BBC)

UK Government stumps up teachers’ pay rise money

The UK Government has provided £23.5million towards a pay rise for teachers in Wales after initial fears they wouldn’t provide the funding due to the imminent devolution of teachers’ pay and conditions.

The pay rise is the equivalent of 3.5% a year and was announced in July 2018, though responsibility will transfer to Wales from the 2019-20 academic year.

The Welsh Government said, “Both the Finance Secretary and Education Secretary had written over the summer making the case that July’s announcement must be fully funded.

“We are therefore pleased the UK Government has recognised its responsibility and funded this much-needed pay rise.”

First Minister: Election needed if AMs reject Brexit deal

The First Minister said that a UK General Election should be called if the devolved parliaments vote to reject any final deal on Brexit with the EU.

While votes in the devolved administrations carry no constitutional weight as the issue is non-devolved, the First Minister told BBC Wales, “If that doesn’t happen (votes in favour), then I don’t see any other alternative than a general election where Brexit will be the main issue.”

He goes on to suggest that following a hypothetical inconclusive UK election result, a second referendum might be required.

Estyn: “Don’t expect school improvements until 2022”

The head of the school inspectorate, Estyn, warned that people shouldn’t expect widespread improvements to the education system in Wales until 2022 at the earliest.

Concerns about Wales’ performance in the international PISA examinations and GCSEs compared to the other UK nations have been consistent down the years, but Estyn’s head, Meilyr Rowlands, was hopeful the introduction of a new National Curriculum in the 2020s will result in an improvement.

She told BBC Wales, “I would say it’s the biggest programme of change in education in Wales in my career. We’ve seen some incremental improvements currently but in order to see a big step change we need to see all the reforms in place.”

NUS warns of Brexit “catastrophe”

An open letter from NUS Wales called on the UK Prime Minister to deliver a Brexit deal that protects students and schemes such as the Erasmus+ exchange programme.

The letter said, “Schemes like Erasmus+ give Welsh students incredible, life-changing opportunities to study and work overseas. Because of politicians’ dithering, our access to this scheme and others is at risk. I am calling on politicians at all levels to get their act together and make sure that we avoid the worst effects of Brexit.”

The NUS also threw its support behind a second referendum.

Two leadership candidates drop out to back Skills Minister

Huw Irranca-Davies and Alun Davies both withdrew from the Labour leadership contest to back the Welsh Language & Skills Minister, Eluned Morgan (Lab, Mid & West Wales), after growing embarrassment inside the party at the lack of a woman candidate on the shortlist to succeed Carwyn Jones.

In a jointly-issued statement, the pair said, “It is a responsibility we must meet so the membership of our party can choose from amongst candidates who reflect the diverse nature of the communities we seek to represent”.

Eluned Morgan remains one nominee short of being on the final ballot after securing the support of Dawn Bowden AM (Lab, Merthyr Tydfil & Rhymney) and David Rees AM (Lab, Aberavon).

Labour leadership campaign’s coalition “threat” derided

A video, narrated by Vikki Howells AM (Lab, Cynon Valley) in support of Vaughan Gething’s leadership campaign, was ridiculed for claiming that the Conservatives, UKIP and Plaid Cymru would form a coalition after the 2021 Welsh General Election.

Western Mail journalist, Martin Shipton, said on Twitter, “Very surprised that Vaughan (Gething) would allow this guff to be put out in his name. Poor judgement – who is advising him?”

Former Labour Bridgend Council leader, Jeff Jones added, “I couldn’t stop laughing both at the idea of such a coalition and the fact that they seem to believe Labour members are not that political (sic) astute.”

Former AM charged with indecent images offence

The former AM for Mid & West Wales, Simon Thomas, was formally charged with three counts of making indecent images of children on September 18th. He’ll appear in court on October 3rd.

He resigned from the Assembly in July after the initial investigation by Dyfed-Powys Police.