The Welsh government has unveiled £8m in additional funding to help ensure teachers in Wales’ further education (FE) colleges receive the same pay as teachers working in sixth forms doing the same job.
As the Welsh government website explains, part of the extra funding will also be allocated to increasing pay for support staff working in FE colleges, many of whom currently receive the living wage.
Education secretary Kirsty Williams said she is delighted that it has been possible for the government to offer additional help to the FE sector, with the funding being spread over the next two years.
“We recognise that colleges are dealing with exceptional circumstances and this additional injection of money will allow the colleges time to budget to cover their own pay cost in future,” she added.
The ‘exceptional circumstances’ relate to the UK government’s award of a teacher pay increase of up to 3.5% in September. The Welsh government supported this decision though the UK government did not consult them beforehand – and neither did it provide Wales with the extra money it needed to cover the costs.
After negotiations, the UK government agreed to allocate £23.5m over the next two years to address the issue. Yet, this money does not cover those teaching in FE, potentially creating disparity between teachers in sixth forms and those in colleges.
The Welsh government therefore decided to step in and agreed to make up the difference to ensure pay is equal.
A total £3.2m will be used during the 2018-19 financial year, with the remaining £4.8m allocated in 2019-20 subject to approval of the final budget.
Eluned Morgan, minister for lifelong learning with responsibility for FE, acknowledged the invaluable role FE plays in the education system, with colleges vital in creating generations of people with the skills the economy needs to thrive.
She concluded: “We are keen to ensure that those teaching in FE receive a pay rise in line with teachers in our schools. We are particularly pleased that we have also managed to find additional support to pay for the crucial support staff who work in our FE colleges.”