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What action is the Welsh Government considering and why?

The proposal concerns the continuation of the Priority Subject Initial Teacher Education Incentive Scheme (the ‘Scheme’). The proposal does not make any fundamental changes to existing policy with this impact assessment revaluating the Scheme to record and mitigate any identified negative impacts. A version of the Scheme has been in place for approximately 20 years and over that time it has evolved to meet the changing needs of the sector. The current version of the scheme makes a payment to student teachers on completion of specified programmes of initial teacher education (ITE) where the qualification provides a subject specialism for teaching in the secondary school sector (children and young people aged 12 to 16). The Scheme is one of three schemes available to student teachers. The others are the Minority Ethnic Incentive Scheme and the Iaith Athrawon Yfory Scheme. 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 of the Welsh Government’s ITE incentives are intended as a recruitment intervention to proportionally address immediate, identifiable market failures (such as the ‘priority subjects’ including STEM subjects, Welsh medium and Minority Ethnic teachers) in the teaching workforce in order to support specific, targeted recruitment into ITE.

Welsh Government 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 with regards to Wales’ incentive schemes have been taken forward including:

  • A flatter, simpler bursary offer in Wales.
  • A focus on subject expertise.
  • 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 2022) advises that “There is strong and consistent evidence that training bursaries are associated with increases in ITT recruitment”.

While the incentive schemes in England and Wales are different, they are broadly comparable in terms of incentive amounts over the period the research refers to.

Other evidence supporting the use of the Priority subject incentive scheme to attract subject specialists into Wales ITE programmes is the recent addition of Biology as a priority subject. ITE recruitment and workforce analysis showed that biology specialists needed to be attracted to the profession. Following the introduction of Biology to the eligible subjects for which an incentive is available, recruitment into Secondary Biology ITE programmes increased closing the gap between the national allocation and actual recruitment. 

The Welsh Government continues to work with EWC and our ITE Partnerships to monitor the impact on student teacher recruitment and 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. That teachers with the skills and knowledge in specialist subject areas are available to teach in schools across Wales to secure the education of children and young people. 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 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 specialist teaching workforce. This indirectly supports the following Programme for Government objectives:

  • 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.
  • Expanding the proportion of the education workforce who can teach and work through the Welsh language.
  • 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 teacher 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 between approximately £3 Million and £6 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.

In addition, the proposal has a minimal positive indirect impact on children and young people. The proposal is intended to ensure that enough teachers with skills and knowledge in specialist subject areas are available to teach in schools across Wales securing the education of children and young people via the Curriculum for Wales.

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 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 as it is a small piece of the much broader work related to ensuring a high quality 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, and collaborative 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 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 and budget. Key stakeholders are invited to engage with this process and provide evidence for ongoing improvement and impact.

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.