The Welsh Liberal Democrat manifesto outlined a commitment to “develop the status of the profession, support and nurture teachers in their work, and so drive up standards in every school”. This would include cutting-edge continuous professional development for teachers and the establishment of a Welsh Academy of Leadership.
The Progressive Agreement committed to “Incentivising, recognising and promoting teaching excellence so that we raise standards across the board.”
As Cabinet Secretary for Education, Kirsty Williams has ensured the Welsh Liberal Democrat priority of promoting teaching excellence is a key part of the national mission to reform education.
In March 2017 Kirsty announced new proposals to revamp teaching standards. They aim to promote teaching excellence and support career-long professional development. They will apply to all serving teachers from September 2018 and initial teacher training programmes from September 2019.
There will also be new rules for the courses that train teachers, in a drive to attract the best talent to the profession. Changes include strengthening how schools and universities work together, and increasing the role of research.
Welsh Liberal Democrats have also increased financial incentives, up to £20,000 per student, to attract the best graduates into teaching subjects such as maths, chemistry, physics and computer science.
Plans for a National Academy of Educational Leadership were revealed by Kirsty Williams in November 2016. The work is being led by Anne Keane, former Chief Inspector for Estyn. It will initially focus on the needs of the next generation of head teachers, including:
Ensuring head teachers are well prepared for their role
Considering the structure of qualifications of head teachers, including NPQH qualifications
Developing career routes for those who want to be head teachers and supporting new heads in the early years of their role
Working with well-established and successful head teachers to help create a group of leaders that can help promote the best practice across schools
Kirsty Williams commented:
“We are working closely with the profession to help teachers and practitioners be the best they can be, while raising the standard of teaching and, importantly, raising the standing of the profession as a whole.
“The current professional standards are no longer fit for purpose and do not match my vision for our school workforce. The old system set minimum expectations that we want to move beyond.
“These new standards are about making sure teachers develop the right skills throughout their career and all those teaching in our classrooms take on a leadership role as we all work together to raise standards. This is about moving to a system of career-long development. My vision is to strengthen leadership and make sure that there is greater consistency across our schools.
“I am grateful to all those teachers, leaders and other partners who have been directly involved in developing these new standards – it is testament to what can be achieved through us working together.”