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What action is the Welsh Government considering and why?
The proposal concerns the continuation of the Iaith Athrawon Yfory Initial Teacher Education (ITE) Incentive Scheme (the ‘Scheme’). The proposal does not make any fundamental changes to existing policy. This impact assessment revaluates the Scheme since it’s first inception and original structure to record and mitigate any identified negative impacts.
The Scheme has been in place since September 2018. It is available to student teachers on eligible secondary, postgraduate ITE programmes in Wales that enable them to teach through the medium of Welsh or teach Welsh as a subject in the secondary school sector (children and young people aged 12 to 16).
The proposal is intended to ensure that enough teachers able to teach through the medium of Welsh are available to teach in schools across Wales securing the education of children and young people in communities. It is an intervention to encourage applicants into ITE capable of undertaking ITE (specifically PGCE Secondary) through the medium of Welsh to do so, data from initiation of the proposal (2018) showed that despite having the language skills a portion of student teachers did not choose Welsh medium subject specialist ITE. This remains the case albeit the situation has improved since the original initiation of the Scheme. Welsh medium ITE enables student teachers to gain the specific skills and knowledge needed to teach in Welsh medium, bilingual or dual stream, maintained settings. While those with Welsh language skills that do not take this type of ITE programme can work in Welsh medium, bilingual or dual stream, maintained settings, this specific type of ITE qualification ensures that young people in those settings, and those employing teachers for those settings, can be assured of the high-quality bilingual learning and teaching provided by their teachers.
At inception the Scheme’s criteria included student teachers’ participation on the Welsh medium improvement scheme within ITE provision available at that time. Following the recommendations of 'evaluation of Welsh-medium provision in Initial Teacher Education' (2018) and the publication of the 'criteria for accreditation of Initial Teacher Education programmes in Wales' (2018) activity within ITE programmes to develop and support the Welsh language development of all student teachers and those wishing to teach through the medium of Welsh was made ‘core’ to all ITE programmes across Wales. The WMIS was therefore ceased. However, the proposal continued with adjusted eligibility criteria and continues to encourage student teachers to undertake ITE that enables them to teach through the medium of Welsh.
The Scheme is one of three schemes available to student teachers. The others are the Priority Subject Incentive Scheme and the Ethnic Minority Incentive Scheme. All the incentives can be claimed in addition to the Student Finance offer in Wales for both full and part-time ITE students.
The Welsh Government’s incentive schemes work as a suite and are only a small part of the promotion of careers initiatives for teaching in Wales more broadly. All the Welsh Government’s ITE incentives are intended as a recruitment intervention to proportionally address immediate, identifiable market failures in the teaching workforce to support specific, targeted recruitment into ITE. The continuation of this scheme supports our commitments and aims under 'Cymraeg 2050' and the activity detailed under 'Welsh in education workforce plan'.
Welsh Government has commissioned several research reports looking at specific facets of incentivisation strategies for teacher education via the EWC (last accessed 4th April 2023). Published in 2019 many of the report’s findings on Wales’ incentive schemes have been taken forward including:
- A flatter, simpler bursary offer in Wales
- Incentives considered carefully as part of a wider, holistic strategy to attract recruits into the teaching profession
This evidence alongside other Welsh Government commissioned reports (Welsh Government, 2019) does suggest that financial incentives are not the key issue for most students who choose to enter ITE. However, as noted in the reports the issue is a complex one and needs to be set in the context of developing the profession as an attractive career proposition.
Recent evidence related to England’s ITT incentive schemes (NfER 2021) advises that “There is strong and consistent evidence that training bursaries are associated with increases in ITT recruitment”. While the incentive schemes in England under discussion were related to subject specialisms and not directly comparable to the scheme it is useful evidence when considering the continuation of the scheme alongside other sources of data and the potential negative impact of withdrawing the scheme.
The Welsh Government continues to work with EWC and our ITE Partnerships to monitor the impact on student teacher recruitment and the evidence base for the continued use of incentives against our aims. As noted above the use of financial incentivisation should be considered part of a broader and holistic set of measures to ensure that our teaching workforce has enough teachers.
Ensuring that enough teachers with Welsh language skills and knowledge in specialist subject areas are available to teach in schools across Wales secures the education of young people within secondary schools. This has positive impacts for them, their families, and communities. The broader purpose and goals of education has significant positive impacts however the impact of this specific proposal is not significant as it is a small piece of the much broader work related to ensuring a high-quality bilingual education system in Wales.
The proposal has clear long term aims to continue to facilitate the introduction of the curriculum through ensuring a suitably educated, high quality Welsh medium specialist teaching workforce. This indirectly supports the following Programme for Government objectives:
- expanding the proportion of the education workforce who can teach and work through the Welsh language
- continuing our long-term programme of education reform, and ensuring educational inequalities narrow and standards rise
- supporting schools and teachers to deliver our Curriculum for Wales
- implementing the new Additional Learning Needs Act
Our key partners, the ITE Partnerships, EWC and Estyn, are consulted with annually in terms of assessing the impact on student recruitment and ongoing improvement of the policy aims of the proposal. In addition, our ITE Partnerships and EWC, as delivery partners for the proposal are involved with the ongoing virtuous cycle of ongoing improvement for the operational delivery of the proposal.
The delivery of the proposal for academic year 2023 to 2024 is expected to be approximately £0.5 Million, the proposal is demand led and dependent on the recruitment into programmes of ITE. The budget for this proposal is provided annually subject to ongoing review, evaluation, and financial modelling. The costs of the proposal are met through the education budget, no additional funding is required to implement the proposal.
Primary or subordinate legislation is not required however all ITE incentive schemes have a legal scheme that underpins and makes clear the requirements of the grant and its delivery for those applicants wishing to apply.
How have people most likely to be affected by the proposal been involved in developing it?
Representatives from those involved in the delivery of ITE in Wales including HEIs, Schools, EWC and Estyn are invited to engage with the policy and delivery of the proposal annually. The Education workforce unions are also kept up to date with any changes that may be made to the policy and operational delivery of the proposal.
What are the most significant impacts, positive and negative?
Developing a high-quality education profession from the very start of their professional learning journey is central to the realisation of our vision for education in Wales and is 1 of 4 enabling objectives in ‘Education in Wales: Our national mission’.
The proposal will have a positive impact on student teachers eligible to apply and receive the incentive monies. It will also widen employment opportunities for student teachers, where Welsh language ability, and the professional qualifications required to teach through the medium of Welsh, are essential.
In addition, the proposal has a minimal positive indirect positive impact on young people undertaking Welsh medium education in secondary settings. The proposal is intended to ensure that enough Welsh medium teachers with skills and knowledge in specialist subject areas are available to teach in schools across Wales securing the education of young people via the Curriculum for Wales and Welsh medium qualifications.
A Welsh medium teaching workforce also helps mitigates against the risks of a language shift within wider Welsh medium communities. Ensuring a teaching workforce to secure the education of children and young people has positive impacts for them and for their families and communities. The broader purpose and goals of the curriculum and education more broadly has significant positive impacts on people, communities, the economy and the Welsh language however the impact of this specific proposal is not significant enough to measure in a meaningful way, it is a small piece of the broader work related to ensuring a high-quality, bilingual, education system in Wales.
In light of the impacts identified, how will the proposal:
- maximise contribution to our well-being objectives and the seven well-being goals and/or
- avoid, reduce or mitigate any negative impacts?
Ensuring a high quality, research engaged, collaborative and bilingual teaching profession contributes to several of the well-being goals, including a more prosperous, equal, cohesive Wales of vibrant culture and thriving Welsh language. The proposal is intended to support the recruitment of Welsh medium subject specialist student teachers into ITE and thereafter into the school teaching workforce required to deliver the Curriculum for Wales, the primary vehicle to contribute to the well-being of children and young people across Wales.
How will the impact of the proposal be monitored and evaluated as it progresses and when it concludes?
The proposal is reviewed annually against its aims, the available data pertaining to the school workforce and budget. Key stakeholders are invited to engage with this process and provide evidence for ongoing improvement and impact on student recruitment.
This updated impact assessment will be reviewed on an annual basis as part of this to monitor the impact of the proposal and any potential changes that are made considering new data and evidence.