Y Pwyllgor Cyfrifon Cyhoeddus a Gweinyddiaeth Gyhoeddus

Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee


Aelodau'r Pwyllgor a oedd yn bresennol

Committee Members in Attendance

Adam Price
Mark Isherwood Cadeirydd y Pwyllgor
Committee Chair
Mike Hedges
Natasha Asghar
Rhianon Passmore

Y rhai eraill a oedd yn bresennol

Others in Attendance

Adrian Crompton Archwilydd Cyffredinol Cymru, Archwilio Cymru
Auditor General for Wales, Audit Wales
Matthew Mortlock Archwilio Cymru
Audit Wales
Owain Lloyd Cyfarwyddwr y Gymraeg ac Addysg, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director of Education and Welsh Language, Welsh Government
Sioned Evans Cyfarwyddwr Cyffredinol, y Grŵp Gwasanaethau Cyhoeddus a'r Gymraeg, Llywodraeth Cymru
Director General, Public Services and Welsh Language Group, Welsh Government

Swyddogion y Senedd a oedd yn bresennol

Senedd Officials in Attendance

Fay Bowen Clerc
Owain Davies Ail Glerc
Second Clerk

Cofnodir y trafodion yn yr iaith y llefarwyd hwy ynddi yn y pwyllgor. Yn ogystal, cynhwysir trawsgrifiad o’r cyfieithu ar y pryd. Lle mae cyfranwyr wedi darparu cywiriadau i’w tystiolaeth, nodir y rheini yn y trawsgrifiad.

The proceedings are reported in the language in which they were spoken in the committee. In addition, a transcription of the simultaneous interpretation is included. Where contributors have supplied corrections to their evidence, these are noted in the transcript.

Cyfarfu’r pwyllgor yn y Senedd a thrwy gynhadledd fideo.

Dechreuodd y cyfarfod am 09:19.

The committee met in the Senedd and by video-conference.

The meeting began at 09:19.

1. Cyflwyniad, ymddiheuriadau, dirprwyon a datgan buddiannau
1. Introductions, apologies, substitutions and declarations of interest

Bore da a chroeso.

Good morning and welcome.

Good morning and welcome to this morning's meeting of the Public Accounts and Public Administration Committee in the Senedd. No apologies for absence have been received. One of our Members is yet to join us, through no fault of her own—traffic problems, so Rhianon Passmore will be joining us later. Do Members have any declarations of registrable interest they wish to share?


I'll share I'm a school governor, but I don't think that's registrable.

No. Right. Presumably it's on your general register, anyhow. Thank you. 

2. Papurau i'w nodi
2. Papers to note

We have several items or papers to note. The first is a letter from the Welsh Government's chief operating officers group on public appointments. This follows our session with the Welsh Government on 14 December 2023 in relation to our inquiry into public appointments. I wrote to the Welsh Government to ask for further information on a number of points: the number of Welsh speakers on public boards; the percentage of people who live outside Wales sitting on public boards in Wales; the data collected on public appointees, such as the first part of the postcode, or their postcode; and information about their pipeline of talent, as well as a job-shadowing scheme. On the first three points, the Welsh Government explained that they don't collect or hold that information. They refer to a pilot scheme that aims to collect further data about the make-up of public bodies, with the pilot study due to report in early 2024. However, they note that Welsh language skills and the location of appointees are not one of the factors in this pilot but 'could be considered' for future pilots. The letter provides some information about a mentoring scheme. I invite Members to comment. Mike Hedges.

Can we have a copy of the application form sent to us? Let's go back to first principles. I've spent a large part, and not necessarily pleasant, of Monday and Sunday going through deputy headteacher applications. On the form: 'Do you speak Welsh—yes or no?', and the address. And the first line of the postcode—I live in SA6—doesn't identify where I live whatsoever; it just identifies an area of 16,000, 20,000 people. So, it's not picked up by GDPR. Could we have a copy of the application, because how do they deal with inland revenue? Inland revenue collect, from employers, don't they, details, and, surely, how can they give detail of 'Joe Bloggs, address unknown'? I think there's a problem. Either what they've said is not quite correct, or they've got a serious problem. So, can we ask for a copy of the application form? I don't understand how you can employ people, not knowing where they live, if only so that you may have to write to them at some stage. And if—we've all seen this—e-mails don't work, e-mails are changed, e-mails break down and if the only means of contacting somebody is an e-mail or a mobile phone number, there is a lot that can go wrong in that. The address is a nice, safe thing that you can actually send a letter to, and even if they've moved, it can then be forwarded on. So, I'd like to have a copy of the application form shared with Members. I just find it difficult to understand, until we see the application form, what information they do have, because the ability to speak Welsh is something you get continually on application forms. As I say, I went through the deputy heads one: 'Do you speak Welsh—yes or no?' 'Do you drive a car?' This is just standard information. I think that both those pieces of information—sorry I'm going on, Mark—are very important. There are parts of Wales where, if you don't speak Welsh, there is a serious problem.

Yn y gogledd, yng Nghaernarfon, mae pawb yn siarad Cymraeg.

In the north and in Caernarfon, everyone speaks Welsh.

So, you have that as a problem. And where people live, I think there's a feeling—one I get—is that there are certain areas of relatively affluent parts of Wales where people are much more likely to get appointed, and I think that we would like to have a true representation of Wales. And I've said this before, changing a male solicitor for a female solicitor is not diversity.

Thank you, Chair. I found the response quite poor, when I actually went through it. I think that, with regard to—. I agree with Mike on many points. I think it's really important that an employer holds details on candidates, particularly if there's so much emphasis on diversity and inclusion, going forward. I don't see much diversity and inclusion, going forward, if they can't retain basic details, such as if you're asking how many candidates from x background, from certain postcodes, et cetera, applied. There's no reflection of what actually happened in that particular instance of hiring somebody. So, the response, I wasn't very happy with, and I think we do need to look into this further, because if we talk about it in so many sessions, and we have covered it in so many different areas, I don't see why we should drop it now.


Dwi'n cytuno â Mike a Natasha. Mae hwn yn ymateb siomedig iawn gan Tim Moss, a dwi'n credu y dylem ni ofyn am fwy o wybodaeth. Ac os nad ydym ni'n hapus â'r ateb pellach rŷn ni'n cael, dylen ni alw Tim Moss yn ôl i'r pwyllgor, dwi'n credu.

Dwi'n credu, os ydw i'n cofio'n iawn, yn y transgript, fe wnes i ddyfynnu bwriadau gan y Llywodraeth o ran casglu data. Mae'n ymddangos nad ydyn nhw wedi cyrraedd hyd yma, ond dyna fy nghof i, beth bynnag. Felly, byddai'n dda pe bai clercod y pwyllgor jest yn gwneud ychydig bach o waith ymchwil cefndir i weld beth mae'r uned yma wedi dweud o ran eu bwriad nhw o ran casglu data a sut mae'n cymharu â'r hyn sy'n digwydd ar lefel Brydeinig, achos dwi wedi gweld data yn ymwneud â chod post—mae'r un cwestiwn yn codi yn achos gorgynrychiolaeth pobl yng nghyffiniau Llundain. A dwi'n cofio gweld data, yn sicr, yn ymwneud â chanran y lleiafrifoedd ethnig o ran penodiadau cyhoeddus yng Nghymru. Roedd hynny yn barod—mae yna sôn am gynllun peilot fan hyn, ond mae'r data wedi bod yn cael ei gasglu. Felly, dyw'r ateb yma ddim yn gydnaws â'r hyn ddylai fod gan yr uned yn barod, a dwi'n cytuno—. Efallai nad oes tabl gyda nhw wrth law o ran cod post ac o ran gallu ieithyddol, ond mae cymaint o benodiadau cyhoeddus yng Nghymru yn rhoi lawr sgiliau Cymraeg 'yn ofynnol' neu 'yn fanteisiol', mae'n rhaid bod y data ganddyn nhw beth bynnag, ac mae'n amhosibl credu nad oes gyda nhw gyfeiriadau'r bobl y maen nhw wedi eu penodi. Felly, dwi'n credu bod yr ateb yma'n siomedig iawn. Os gallwn ni gael ychydig bach o waith cefndir, ac wedyn, os oes raid, fe ddylem ni alw'r swyddog yn ôl i'r pwyllgor.

I agree with Mike and Natasha. This is a very disappointing response from Tim Moss, and I think that we should ask for more information. And if we are not content with the further response that we receive, we should call Tim Moss back to the committee, I think.

I think that, if I remember rightly, in the transcript, I quoted the intention of the Government in terms of data gathering. It appears that they haven't got there yet, but that's my memory of it, anyway. So, it would be good if the committee clerks could just do some background research to see what this unit has said in terms of its intention on data gathering and how it compares with what's happening at a UK level, because I have seen data relating to postcodes—the same question arises in the case of over-representation of people in the London area. And I do remember seeing data, certainly, relating to the percentage of ethnic minorities in terms of public appointments in Wales. That was ready—there is talk of a pilot scheme here, but data has been gathered already. So, this answer doesn't align with what the unit should have already, and I do agree—. Maybe they don't have a table to hand in terms of postcodes and in terms of linguistic ability, but so many public appointments in Wales include Welsh language skills as 'a requirement' or 'advantageous' that they must have the data anyway, and it's impossible to believe that they don't have the addresses of people they have appointed. So, I think that this response is very disappointing. If we could get some background research undertaken, and then, if needs be, we should call the official back to the committee.

Thank you. The intention was to capture the letter's contents and reflect those in our committee report. Between you, you've asked for a number of further items of information or documentation. Is it your wish to incorporate those asks into the report, or to obtain that information before the report is drafted?

I'd like to do it before the report is drafted. I heard what Adam said—I was using my knowledge of Welsh, and I think I got most of it. But it's just unbelievable that they don't collect this information. So, we need to see the forms, because our recommendation may well be—one of them—that they relook at their form to collect key information. So, I think we need to take that step.

Okay. Well, we can, obviously, seek that information. There's nothing to stop you actually starting the draft, but we can't do the final draft until we have both that information and Members' feedback on it. So, thank you very much indeed.

The second paper to note is a letter from the Senedd Commission on the scrutiny of accounts 2022-23, in response to our recent report on this. The letter confirms that all of our recommendations have been accepted in full. It also provides some additional information about some of our recommendations, in particular about the socioeconomic and geographic backgrounds of its workforce. It also sets out some of the forthcoming projects being undertaken as part of its ways of working strategy, including the Siambr 2026 project. Do any Members wish to comment on the letter?

Just one small comment. I read somewhere that they'll be making the submission in the spring. It would be nice to actually have a date to hand, because I know, having had previous history, sometimes dates aren't always followed to the tee here, and I think it's important that we set a precedent to ensure that dates are followed. So, if we can get a fixed date for spring when that is going to be due, that would be really appreciated. 


Unless we have one already—. No. Okay. Thank you. Otherwise, are Members content to note the letter? Sorry—Adam. 

Efallai y dylwn i wedi gwneud hyn ar ddechrau'r cyfarfod, ond jest i bwyntio mas—mae e ar y record, wrth gwrs—dwi yn gomisiynydd. 

Maybe I should have said this at the outset of the meeting, but—and it is on the record, of course—I am a commissioner. 

Thank you for that sharing that. You'll have advance knowledge of the request that will come to you, and more understanding than your fellow commissioners of the background. Thank you. Are Members otherwise content to note? Thank you. 

Our third paper to note is a letter from the director general of the economy, treasury and constitution group of the Welsh Government on Gilestone Farm. This letter refers the committee to a written statement published earlier in the week relating to the future of Gilestone Farm. I think it was a previous week. It refers to the arrival of a pair of ospreys on the site, which are designated under legislation as a protected species. They summarise the actions being undertaken on the site as a consequence and have committed to providing a copy of the osprey conservation plan, which has now been received. 

The letter explains that, in consequence, the full commercial and charitable objectives of the Green Man Group in relation to the proposed use of Gilestone Farm could no longer be realised. The letter explains that there's been engagement with the community and it commits to inform the committee once a final decision has been taken on the future of the land. The committee will continue to monitor developments and plans to undertake further work on these matters. 

We have, as you know, committee members—welcome to Rhianon Passmore—been considering this matter and previously agreed that once we had correspondence from the Welsh Government, which we've now received, we would convene a short evidence session with agreed parties if they wish to participate. Otherwise, can I invite Members to comment on the letter? Natasha. 

Thank you so much again, Chair. In relation to the letter and in relation to the information, there was a lot of it, and I appreciate the issue that everyone is having with regard to the ospreys being there. The only thing I would like a bit of clarification on going forward is, obviously, we all know that £4 million has been spent on this farm, and very little has been said as to the future of it. I appreciate with the birds being there it puts everything into the mix, but I just wanted to know—. In relation to what's actually written in the letter, they said that the Minister for Economy has approved a new farm business. At the moment, that particular land is generating an income, and I think it would be prudent for the committee to know how much that income actually is. We all like to know our numbers and I know we're known as a spreadsheet committee, but it would be nice to know if we are actually making any money in a profitable sense from this particular land. So, I would like to have a bit more clarification. I appreciate data protection and we may not be privy to the tenancy agreement itself, but how much money is that actually making for us? Because that's taxpayers' money at the end of the day. 

Can I just agree with Natasha? The one thing we do know is that it has to be in the accounts somewhere in terms of income. The other question is this: we were told by officials that it didn't matter because we could get paid market value for it, and we would get our money back if we sold it. Can we ask them to confirm that again? 

Thank you. Any further comments? Can I clarify? In the response, it refers to the objectives of the Green Man Group. It's our understanding from previous evidence that a separate company was established to take this forward. Do we know whether that is part of the Green Man Group and subject to the commercial and charitable objectives of that group? Perhaps we could find out, because there is some ambiguity, as we wrestled with previously, over what the status of this company is. Is it for this sole purpose? We understand it's a for-profit company. Does it share charitable objectives or is it a stand-alone business, and what's going to happen to it now in these circumstances? 

We've also previously had an independently commissioned environmental impact report, which indicated other vulnerable species on and adjacent to the site. So, there are questions there that we might want to explore. When we met on Monday, I noted that many different witnesses from very different perspectives have raised in writing with us alleged comments and actions by the community council and the county council, but we've never had an opportunity to put any of that to them. They may not wish to attend, but I feel they should be given the opportunity to have their say, and for us to hear first-hand what the reality is from their perspective. Otherwise, are Members content to note the letter? Thank you.

The next paper to note is a letter from the director general of the economy, treasury and constitution group of the Welsh Government on Amgueddfa Cymru, Museum Wales. The letter contains further information for us following the evidence session on 29 November last year, including details about the Welsh Government’s calling-in arrangements, tailored review programme and other follow-up points. The contents of this letter will be reflected in our forthcoming report. Members, do you have any comments on the letter? In that case, thank you. We'll just note the letter on that point. 

A fifth paper to note is a letter received from the Welsh Government’s Minister for Health and Social Services on the oversight and escalation framework. This provides a further update on that framework, which was reissued by the Welsh Government on 22 January this year. The letter was also sent to the Chair of the Health and Social Care Committee. The framework has been updated, with a series of areas in need of addressing summarised in the letter, following an assessment of similar processes in Scotland and England. The committee is due to hold a scrutiny session on 7 March with senior officers from Betsi Cadwaladr University Health Board, which will cover some of the themes set out in this letter and will also cover the framework and other matters arising, for example from the auditor general's recent report. So, Members, do you have any comments on the letter? The clerking team will liaise with colleagues from the Health and Social Care Committee to confirm if they intend to undertake further work in this area should there be opportunities for further joint working with them.

The next paper to note is the Welsh Government's response to our report on the Welsh Government's annual report and accounts for 2021-22. Further to the publication of our report on the scrutiny of these accounts on 20 October last year, the Welsh Government has provided a response to the recommendations we made in our report. You will note that annex 3, which includes the response to recommendation 9 of our report, has been provided in confidence as it relates to personal data. Should Members wish to make comments on this part of the letter I invite them to do so later in a private session. 
Our report made 25 recommendations, three of which related to the Welsh Government’s workforce planning. The Welsh Government has accepted all but four of the recommendations, which it has rejected in full or in part. The committee will have the opportunity to explore the Welsh Government’s responses during its scrutiny next month of the consolidated accounts for 2022-23. As such, the committee is invited at this stage to note the response, but there will be an opportunity in private session for Members to discuss and identify any issues arising from this response that they would like included as part of that scrutiny. So, I invite Members to note that letter. Thank you.  


Sorry, Chair—just to note that the majority have been accepted, it seems.

All but four, I believe. We will revisit that letter in private session should Members have any comments. 

3. Sesiwn dystiolaeth gyda Llywodraeth Cymru: Cyflenwi ar gyfer Absenoldeb Athrawon
3. Evidence Session with the Welsh Government: Covering Teachers' Absence

That brings us to our evidence session today, which is with the Welsh Government on the subject of covering teachers' absence. In November 2020, the auditor general published a report on covering teachers' absence, which was a follow-up to a 2013 report by his predecessor. The auditor general wrote to the committee in November last year to share findings from his follow-up work in this area. The letter concluded that the Welsh Government has taken a range of relevant actions in response to the recommendations made in the November 2020 report, but, nonetheless, some issues remain. Although new recommendations have not been issued, the letter sets out areas that the auditor general would expect the Welsh Government to monitor and review.

I'm pleased to welcome the witnesses who are attending the meeting today, but I'd be grateful, rather than myself, if you could state your names and roles for the record, perhaps starting with Ms Evans. 


Bore da. My name is Sioned Evans.

Cyfarwyddwr cyffredinol gwasanaethau cyhoeddus a'r Gymraeg.

I'm the director general of the public services and Welsh language group.

I'm the new DG public services and Welsh language in the Welsh Government. Diolch.

Yes. Bore da. Good morning, Chair. I'm Owain Lloyd. I'm director of education and Welsh language.

Cyfarwyddwr y Gymraeg ac addysg.

Director of education and Welsh language.

Diolch, a chroeso. As you would expect, we have many questions, and therefore we would be grateful if both Members and witnesses could be as succinct as possible, to enable us to cover as wide a range of issues as possible that this topic has generated. As convention has it, the Chair, myself, will ask the initial questions. Does the Welsh Government have any indication of how sickness absence rates in the 2022-23 academic year, or even in the early 2023-24 academic year, compare with previous years? We recognise, of course, that official annual figures may not yet be available, but I'd be grateful if you could indicate whether you have those figures and whether you can share them with us.

Yes, of course. We currently don't have any information for 2022-23 or 2023-24. Based on the school workforce annual census, the SWAC, for 2021-22, we have a note of 39,000 sickness absence records, which were opened and closed during the year; just over 18,000 teachers—that's 65.2 per cent—took at least one period of sick absence during that period. These are considerably higher than in 2020-21, but are similar to those absences that we saw pre pandemic. The period covered by the COVID-19 pandemic obviously affected both the record keeping and, indeed, some of the attendance stats that we have for teachers in this space.

Is there a reason why there is the gap between 2022 and 2024?

Sorry, in terms of what?

In relation to the figures that you just mentioned. You said you didn't have figures for 2022—

We haven't got them yet; they haven't been compiled yet. We just don't have them yet, but as soon as they're available, we can make them available.

Thank you. What steps is the Welsh Government taking, if any, to understand the causes for and extent of absences from the classroom for reasons other than sickness?

The 2021 national education workforce survey, which is conducted in partnership between the Education Workforce Council, the Welsh Government, trade unions, employers and the key professional bodies, identified workload concerns as being the main issue, other than pure sickness, for teacher absence. We recognise and have done a lot of work to try and tackle some of the workforce issues. We recognise the workload in the education workforce includes teachers, and we've recently restructured and refocused the current working arrangements around that with the strategic workload co-ordination group. This group has an independent chair, and it will oversee all issues relating to reducing workload and bureaucracy in relation to schools, to ensure consistency and an achievable approach. The group met for the first time on 7 February. There was also a ministerial statement on 24 November around reducing workload and bureaucracy for school staff, and that referred to workload impact assessments, which are now available and ready to use whenever we change any policies or introduce any new policies within this space, to make sure that we have proper impact assessments to see the impact on staff. 

Underneath the group, the strategic workload co-ordination group, we have also set up three new working groups. These respectively cover policy development and implementation, finance and reporting and engagement. These groups, which are chaired by non-Welsh Government colleagues, are intended to discuss and take up decisions on practical actions required. So, we will be working really closely with them to make sure that we can respond to those in terms of the policy developments that we have in this space. 


Thank you. For clarity, you referred to working with a number of partners, including, I believe, the teaching unions— 

Are you able to tell us what their feedback is regarding the reasons, other than sickness, for these absences? 

Well, it is the workload pressure. That is the main issue that comes back to us time and time again. So, the bureaucracy around the tasks that teachers have been asked to do rears its head quite often, and that is something that the Minister and officials are really keen to ensure that we tackle at the core of it, really, as we develop policies moving forward. 

I know what they've told me, but I'm not here to give evidence. In terms of the causes of that additional pressure, are they indicating what they believe those causes to be?

Well, if I could just ask Owain about that—he's more closely involved with the actual work groups. If I could bring Owain in, please. 

Diolch, Sioned. I think there is a range of pressures being indicated by schools. I think Sioned has referred to some of them. So, some of the things that we've been doing recently—you might be aware of the middle tier review, which Dylan Jones has been undertaking. That's clearly come through with a range of things, where school leaders and school staff are saying there are additional pressures being created by the education system. So, we're looking at that, working very closely with local authorities, with Estyn, with consortia, to try and streamline some of our funding streams to try and reduce some of the reporting requirements that are on schools and local authorities. I think there is a range of things that we're looking at. There's no one silver bullet. Members will, I'm sure, be aware that workload across this sector has been discussed for a long time. But I think we do have an opportunity, working closely with unions, local authorities, Estyn, consortia and other partners, to really make a difference and push forward now, Chair. 

Okay. A final question from my opening questions: what consideration, if any, has the Welsh Government given to what level of other absences, other than sickness, should be considered reasonable? 

With other sectors as well, I think, 'reasonableness' boils down to what is reasonable within the individual local environment. So, I think schools are best placed to be clear about what is reasonable in their space and with their particular environment, and it is something on which we will work with them, but recognising that the responsibility for the well-being of their teachers remains with the schools and, therefore, through to the local authorities.

Well, I think it varies. I think, as Owain said, there's not really a silver bullet and there's not really a really clear pattern that's coming from this. So, a lot of the work that we're undertaking at the moment is about that liaison with partners to try and really get to the bone of what is happening here. We recognise there's an issue, and, as the follow-up report indicates, we have made great strides in that period of time to try and tackle that. But the reality is that sickness, like some other areas where you have professions under strain, is something that is quite sensitive. It's quite difficult to identify, and also it's not always the workforce pressure and the workload that accounts for sicknesses. There are myriad external factors as well. So trying to get underneath the skin of that is often quite challenging, but it's something that we are working on. And we have, as I said, engaged with as many partners as possible to make sure that we get the broadest possible range of thoughts and understanding of the subject so that we can try and tackle it as best as possible.

So, at this stage, you don't have a trigger point, where you would say—excluding sickness—that that is in excess of the anticipated or average reasonable level that we would expect and that might merit attention. 

Not at the moment. We haven't got anything identified at the moment. 

Bore da. A gaf i droi at athrawon cyflenwi fel pwnc? Ac a allwch chi jest ddechrau drwy roi darlun i ni o'r sefyllfa bresennol o ran argaeledd athrawon cyflenwi? 

Good morning. Could I turn to supply teachers as a subject? And could you just start by giving us a picture of the current situation regarding availability of supply teachers?


Eto, allaf i fynd at Owain ar hwn, os dŷch chi ddim yn meindio, am eiliad? Diolch.

Again, if I could pass to Owain on this, for a second, please. Thank you.

Iawn. Diolch, Sioned. Dylwn i ddatgan fy mod i'n briod ag athrawes gyflenwi, i ddechrau, jest i wneud hynny'n glir.

Dwi yn meddwl, ar hyn o bryd, fod y ffigurau sydd gyda ni yn dangos bod recriwtio a chadw athrawon, ar y cyfan, yn eithaf stable, mewn ffordd. Ond rydyn ni'n sicr yn gweld bod yna anawsterau a sialensiau o ran recriwtio mewn pynciau penodol, i fod yn deg, ac mewn rhannau o Gymru hefyd. A dwi'n meddwl bod hwnna'n sicr yn wir pan mae'n dod i'r iaith Gymraeg, ond mae yna hefyd bynciau eraill yn y sector uwchradd—mathemateg, er enghraifft—lle mae'n her i ysgolion. Nawr, yn amlwg, mae recriwtio athrawon a'r gweithlu yn gyfrifoldeb ar awdurdodau lleol ac ysgolion—nhw yw'r employing bodies, fel petai. Ond mae angen i ni, yn sicr, gydweithio'n agosach gyda nhw er mwyn gweld sut y gallwn ni fynd i'r afael â rhai o'r heriau yma. Yn amlwg, mae yna incentives ariannol sydd yn targedu pynciau penodol drwy wahanol ffyrdd, ac mae hwnna, dwi'n meddwl, yn rhan bwysig o'r darlun hefyd.

Yes. Thank you, Sioned. I should state that I'm married to a supply teacher, just at the outset, just to make that clear.

I do think, at present, the figures that we have do show that the recruitment and retention of teachers is, on the whole, quite stable. But, certainly, we are seeing difficulties and challenges in terms of recruiting teachers in certain subjects, to be fair, and in certain parts of Wales as well. And I think that that is certainly true when it comes to the Welsh language, but there are also other subjects in the secondary sector—maths, for example—where it is a challenge for schools. But, evidently, the recruitment of teachers and the workforce is the responsibility of local authorities and schools—they are the employing bodies, as it were. But we do need to co-operate more closely with them to see how we can tackle some of those challenges. Evidently, there are financial incentives that target certain subjects in different ways, and I think that that is a very important part of the picture as well.

Pa ardaloedd daearyddol sydd dan y pwysau mwyaf, o ran anhawster dod o hyd i athrawon cyflenwi?

And what geographical areas are under the most pressure at the moment, in terms of difficulty finding supply teachers?

Wel, yn sicr, mae yna rannau daearyddol gwledig, dwi'n meddwl, lle mae yna broblem benodol a phroblem benodol o ran rhai pynciau uwchradd. Mae ysgolion uwchradd, mwy a mwy, yn gweithio ar y cyd o ran edrych a oes yna ddull digidol o addysgu ac a oes yna ffordd, yn yr ardaloedd gwledig, i bedair neu bum ysgol ddod at ei gilydd er mwyn darparu cwrs lefel A ac ati. Ond, yn sicr, mae'r trafodaethau dŷn ni'n eu cael gyda'r sector yn ein harwain ni i feddwl mai yn yr ardaloedd gwledig yn benodol mae yna broblem.

Well, I think, certainly, there are rural geographical areas where there is a specific problem and a specific problem in terms of certain secondary subjects. The majority of secondary schools do co-operate to see whether there are digital approaches to teaching and whether there are ways, in rural areas, where four or five schools could come together to provide an A-level course and so forth. But yes, certainly, the discussions that we're having with the sector do lead us to think that there are problems in rural areas specifically.

Rŷch chi wedi cyfeirio at rôl 'incentive-eiddio' ariannol, technoleg a dulliau o gydweithio fel ffyrdd i ymateb i'r anawsterau sydd yn bodoli, fesul pwnc neu fesul ardal. A oes yna unrhyw beth arall rŷch chi'n ei wneud i gynorthwyo wrth ymateb i'r broblem yma?

You've referred to the role of financial incentives, technology and methods of collaborating as ways to respond to these difficulties that currently exist in terms of finding people to cover subjects or geographical areas. Is there anything else that you're doing to help address this problem?

Dwi'n meddwl y dylwn i hefyd gyfeirio at ochr yr iaith Gymraeg, sydd, dwi'n siŵr bod nifer yn gwybod, yn her ymhob sector ond yn sicr yn y sector addysg a'r sector uwchradd yn benodol. Mae yna her o ran cael pobl sydd yn ddwyieithog i mewn i'r sector ac i mewn i addysgu. Mae gyda ni gynllun gweithlu addysg o ran hynny, o ran y Gymraeg, a gafodd ei gyhoeddi rhyw ddwy flynedd yn ôl. Mae yna amryw o bethau yn hynny dŷn ni'n trio'u gwneud er mwyn mynd i'r afael â hynny. Felly, mae hwnna'n un peth penodol pan mae'n dod i'r iaith Gymraeg y dylwn i sôn amdano; mae'n gynllun gyda nifer o bethau dŷn ni'n ceisio'u gwneud ar hyn o bryd. Mae'r Gweinidog wedi bod yn hollol glir ein bod ni'n fodlon trio pethau ac os nad ŷn nhw'n gweithio, gwnawn ni drio pethau eraill, ac, yn sicr, rŷn ni'n gweithio gyda phrifysgolion ac eraill, a'r Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, er mwyn trio mynd i'r afael â'r her benodol honno.

I think I should also make reference to the Welsh language, which I'm sure many of you know is a challenge in every sector, but certainly in the education sector and the secondary sector in particular. There is a challenge in terms of recruiting people who are bilingual into the sector as teachers. We do have an education workforce plan in terms of the Welsh language, which was published about two years ago. There are various things in that that we're trying to do in order to tackle the situation. So, that's one specific thing that I should mention in terms of the Welsh language; it is a plan that has a number of things we're trying to do at present. I think the Minister has been clear that we are willing to try things and if they don't work, we will try other things, and, certainly, we work with universities and others, and the Coleg Cymraeg Cenedlaethol, for example, in order to try and address this specific challenge.

O ran y ffigurau manwl a'r trywydd neu'r duedd, ydych chi'n gallu rhoi unrhyw wybodaeth i ni ynglŷn â'r niferoedd cyffredinol o athrawon cyflenwi? Sut mae hwnna wedi newid ers ystadegau blynyddol gweithlu addysg Cymru ym mis Mawrth y llynedd? Felly, sut mae'n cymharu o gymharu â blwyddyn yn ôl?

In terms of the statistics in more detail, the trend, can you give us any information with regard to the general numbers of supply teachers? How has that changed since the annual education workforce statistics for Wales in March 2023? So, how does it compare, compared to a year ago?

Dyw'r data yna, ar hyn o bryd, ddim gyda ni, i fod yn gwbl onest, ond yn sicr, mae'n rhywbeth y gallwn ni ddod nôl i'r pwyllgor gydag ef pan mae'r data'n dod trwy'n partneriaid ni, i weld a oes yna gynnydd neu a oes yna ryw waethygu wedi bod. Ond o siarad gydag ysgolion ac awdurdodau lleol ar hyn o bryd, dŷn ni ddim yn gweld bod yna newid sylweddol wedi bod ers y ffigurau mwyaf diweddar y gwnest ti sôn amdanynt, ond gallwn ni'n sicr ddod nôl at y pwyllgor gydag ychydig mwy o wybodaeth, os oes yna, pan fydd yr adeg iawn yn dod.

Those data are not available, at present, to be honest, but it's certainly something that we can come back to committee with when the data does come through our partners, to see whether progress has been made, or whether there has been any deterioration. But in speaking to schools and local authorities at present, we don't see that there has been any significant change since those most recent figures you mentioned, but, certainly, we can come back to the committee with more information at the right time.


O ran y thema ehangach yma, yn cynnwys absenoldebau athrawon ac wedi hynny y galw am athrawon cyflenwi mae hynny yn cyflyru, ydych chi yn gweld neu ydych chi wedi gwneud unrhyw asesiad o'r traweffaith posib neu gysylltiad posib gyda'r newidiadau sylweddol sydd wedi bod yn y maes? Dwi'n cyfeirio yn bennaf at y cwricwlwm newydd, a hefyd, ar y gorwel, y Bil addysg awyr agored breswyl y mae, rwy'n credu, rhai o gynrychiolwyr yr undebau wedi mynegi pryder yn ei gylch.

In terms of this broader theme, and that includes the absences of teachers and then the demand for supply teachers as a result, do you see or have you made any assessment of the potential impact or connection of the significant changes that we've seen in education? I'm referring mainly to the new curriculum, and also, on the horizon, we have the residential outdoor education Bill, which I think some of the union representatives have raised concerns about that.

Ddim yn benodol. Yn amlwg, mae yna lot o newid a diwygio yn y sector ar hyn o bryd. Mi wyt ti wedi sôn am y cwricwlwm newydd, Cwricwlwm i Gymru, ond dŷn ni hefyd yn gwybod o ran ein hanghenion dysgu ychwanegol fod y system yna dal yn un sy'n weddol newydd. Mae yna heriau—mae'r Gweinidog wedi sôn am yr heriau ynglŷn â'r system honno. Felly, mae yna lot o ddiwygio yn digwydd ac mae'n rhaid inni fod yn onest ynglŷn â hynny. Dŷn ni ddim yn teimlo bod hwnna'n cael unrhyw effaith andwyol ar y niferoedd o ran cyflenwi. Yn bersonol, dwi ddim yn meddwl o ran y Bil penodol wnest ti sôn amdano fod hwnna'n dod trwyddo ar hyn o bryd fel rhywbeth sydd yn poeni'r sector yn fwy na dim byd arall. Dwi'n meddwl mai'r diwygiadau mawr ar hyn o bryd, yn sicr, sy'n creu pwysau, a dwi hefyd yn meddwl bod effeithiau post pandemic hefyd yn sicr siŵr o fod yn ffactor o ran sut mae plant, efallai, yn ymddwyn, yn enwedig yn y sector uwchradd. Felly, mae'r rheini yn bethau mae angen inni eu cefnogi, a sicrhau ein bod ni'n mynd i'r afael â nhw.

Not specifically. But evidently there is a lot of change and reform in the sector. You've mentioned about the new curriculum, the Curriculum for Wales, but we also know that the additional learning needs system is still relatively new. There are challenges—the Minister has mentioned the challenges in terms of that system. So, there are many reforms happening, and we have to be honest about that, but we don't feel that that's having any detrimental impact on the numbers of supply teachers. Personally, I don't think that the specific Bill that you mentioned is coming through either as something that is a concern for the sector more than anything else. I think the major reforms at present certainly are creating pressure, and I also think the post-pandemic effects are certainly a factor in terms of how children behave, particularly in the secondary sector. So, those are things we have to provide support for, and ensure that we tackle those issues.

Thank you very much, Chair. I'd like to know what incentives have the Welsh Government provided in recent years to train and retain teachers, and what's been the overall impact of these incentives on overall teacher numbers as well as supply teacher numbers?

There are a number of incentives that have been put forward. The priority subject incentive scheme is one of them, as Owain referred to earlier; there are a number of subject areas that we know are particularly difficult for us to fill in terms of teachers. And also Owain referred to the ethnic minority incentive, and there's also a Welsh language incentive. That incentive is up to £20,000 in some instances, but for Welsh language, it's £5,000, and the same for the ethnic minority, £5,000. We do know that the Iaith Athrawon Yfory, which is the Welsh language one, has seen an increase in the number of teachers coming through, and 72 eligible individuals received the Welsh-medium teacher retention bursary in 2023. So, it's having an impact, but it's quite early days, and therefore we won't yet have done the assessment that we need to do to have a look at the overall impact of that and the longer term impact, and, indeed, how sustainable that is moving forward in terms of budgets, interest and the number of trainee teachers coming through.

I think retention is also incredibly important. It's one thing paying a bursary for a teacher to meet a demand that we have, but, actually, it's retaining beyond the bursary when we've got the challenges, as you've mentioned and as the report has identified as well, around working pressures. We won't retain them in the industry or in the—sorry, in the practice if we don't—. You can tell I came from a business background, can't you? We won't retain them in the sector if we can't ensure that their working environment is encouraging, is pleasant, that they feel they have correct and supportive professional development and they feel they are truly valued as teachers. For me, that is the critical nut that we are attempting to crack, and, indeed, have made quite a lot of progress towards.


In regard to that professional development and in the supporting of excellence, in terms of the plethora of different pressures and tensions that the teaching workforce and supply cover for the teaching workforce within that are suffering, how do you feel that the review of the consortia will assist in the longer term? Is there a different model in terms of being able to support teachers within the different issues that we've talked about? I don't know if Owain wants to come in.

Owain might want to come in with the detail, but, certainly, it's something that we are really keen about. A lot of the work that is taken on to address how we are supporting supply teachers is about making sure there's capacity and space for that professional development that they require in order to make it a worthwhile career for them.

And also, we have—I think it's in this academic year; Owain will correct me if I'm wrong—an additional in-service training day that is focused on professional learning, so that there's a real focus on it. Now, a day isn't enough—I recognise that—but it does point towards the importance that we put on professional learning, and indeed, as the Minister's made really clear, the quality of the teaching that is provided for staff, making sure that teachers are teaching, and that class support and other individuals in the school environment are all working within the remit of their skills, capability and, indeed, their pay. We need to make sure that the pay is adequate for the skills and the ask of the individual involved. But I don't know whether—

Owain, wyt ti eisiau dod i mewn ar hwn?

Owain, do you want to come in on this?

Yes, on the middle tier review, I think it's a really important report from Dylan. The Minister made a statement a couple of weeks back. I think it sets out that, at all levels of the education system, there are changes required, so it talks about how, at a local level, we could support schools to collaborate better, not just within clusters, but across geographic boundaries and how schools can support and challenge each other. I think that's a really important part of the review's findings. Then there's the question of the regional consortia and school improvement and how that has to change as an approach, moving forward, and probably towards more local school improvement arrangements.

And then, finally, last but not least, in terms of what has to change at a national level, I suppose it's more of a focus around what are the key priorities and the support that schools need. I think professional learning, in particular, Dylan picked up as an issue, where I think, in the view of the profession, at times there's too much of it, it's difficult to find what you require and maybe the quality at times is variable. So, again, I think there's probably room for us to be a bit more directive and supportive around what the profession require, moving forward, when it comes to professional learning, and that will also mean how those supply teachers access that. So, I think that's, hopefully, helpful, Chair.

Thank you so much. Your answer actually covered a lot of the other areas I wanted to cover, but I wanted—

No, it's fine. I just wanted to also ask you how often you go back to the drawing board. You mentioned a lot of points with the question that I asked you, and you responded and gave a number of variations, such as, for example—and I understand—the frustrations with regard to supply teachers, with funding, with bursaries, with time restrictions. I get all of that, but if you're realising something is not working, how often do you regroup and decide, 'Okay, we need to take a different angle on this'?

I'm relatively new in post—again, Owain has got far more experience than me in terms of how we've developed this—but, through the work that I have been observing and catching up with, with the team, since being in post, it is really clear that there is a focus now on reviewing, gathering information, working with partners, to make sure that there are regular reviews in all these areas. I mean, for the framework review, I think it's quarterly it's going to be looked at. So, it is looking at what we're establishing now so that we can develop an evidence base that will help us then in terms of policy development, moving forward. Now, that is often really complex. It requires teams to work in a slightly, maybe, different way, and it also requires us as an organisation, as Owain pointed out, to be maybe a little more directional in terms of the standards that we expect and how we would like to see a fair, equal, value-for-money and affordable system that works and which ultimately delivers the best outcome for our learners in Wales. So, with that evaluation, I have noticed a real shift from some of the reports that I have read previously in preparing for this role and how we are moving forward now. And I think that will be really positive and that will provide us with a really, really stable basis to be able to fine-tune future policies. And I think, with the impact assessment I talked about as well, that impact assessment doesn't just say what the impact is; it will help us to see, if there are real pressures and impacts, how we can adjust those before, perhaps, we move to the next stage of landing things on teachers, as sometimes they have felt in the past?


And just for my own knowledge, and I understand you said that, at the moment, the assessments are going to be every quarter, when were they done previously? You're new to the role, I'm new to the role, so when were they done previously?

Sorry, I don't know and, also, I'm now querying whether I said 'quarterly'. I've certainly seen it in my briefing that there are quarterly reviews, but I'll come back to you on that point to clarify. Thank you.

Yes, absolutely. That's fine. So, I just wanted to know—. We've heard the figure of £101 million being spent on agency cover through the previous agency framework from 2022-23, so, I just want to know, from both of your perspectives, do you consider this—well, I'll be honest with you—value for money when it comes down to it, compared with other cover or agency work that could have been attained instead?

Yes, I mean, there's a rebate model in place here. So, as part of the Welsh Government, we charge a fee of 0.5 per cent for this. The other stat we've got here is that the Department for Education operates a 1 per cent rebate fee. So, for the last full year, our figure was £504,000. It's really difficult to extrapolate the information we need from that, because the Welsh Government delivers in the region of 30 national contracts for use across the public sector. So, our commercial procurement service staff costs were taken out of that. But that's another one where we can, actually, if the committee would like, do the work around that. I don't have the figures with me now, but we could do some work around that and then come back to you to give you something more accurate around how that actually looks in terms of pounds, shillings and pence. 

Okay, that's great, because the next question I was going to ask you was on the estimations on the spend of agencies operating outside of the agency framework. So, that would be included within the—

Again, Owain will check, but I think this will just be for the ones within the agency. Ninety-two per cent of the contracts are undertaken through the framework, so, it's really on the margins that they're not. It will be through the framework we'll be able to work out the figures for you easily, because, actually, schools will be responsible for sourcing their supply of teachers from elsewhere.

Okay, so, the next question I'm going to ask is about income. So, the Welsh Government has, obviously, been receiving—. I'd like to know how much they've received from agencies as part of the 0.5 per cent charge and how this compares with the costs the Welsh Government has incurred in managing the agency framework to date.

Well, I think that goes back to the last question. That's the figure that's quite difficult to be able to extrapolate because, at the moment, our costs in managing it are extended over some 30 contracts, but we can look into it and try and take out the specific costs of this particular contract and come back to you. I don't know how difficult that will be, and somebody's going to be sighing at the other end of this call, but we can come back to you on that.

If you can, that would be great. We'd appreciate it. Okay, So, with regard to the new agency framework, how has that actually been promoted to local authorities and schools?

It's gone out to all local authorities directly. It is there on our Hwb, to which all teachers have access, plus, obviously, supply teachers have access to that, and through the Welsh Government commercial newsletter, which goes to all partners. So, it's been pretty well advertised on that front.

The uptake during 2023, autumn term, is—. Sorry, let me just go back to this, spend in the autumn term was up slightly. So, autumn term 2023 was up slightly on autumn term 2022—and it really is slightly; it's £35 million versus £31 million. But we are trying to also identify what the non-framework spend is because that's the bit that we don't really have sight of and that's the bit that, even though it's a very, very small percentage—what did I say; it's 92 per cent on the framework, and so it's that small 8 per cent or so—it is really important, because we're having a lot of noise around that and we probably need to understand why schools are still choosing to go off the framework so that we can try and plug that gap in a way that provides more consistency for the schools, for the local authorities and for the teachers involved in this space.


But, surely, one of the ways they come off the framework is by direct employment, and they directly employ teachers they know, which means the teacher gets all the money, rather than some of it going to the agency. Isn't that better, rather than worse?

Well, that is an option for schools. They can directly employ teachers. So, that is absolutely an option. I suppose it's the flexibility that that provides and also, of course, we can't ignore the budgetary pressures on schools. So, that's a decision for the schools to take. 

But if they directly employ a supply teacher, it's not going to cost them any more than paying an agency, it's just that the teacher gets more. 

Yes, probably. I don't know, sorry. I don't know. 

Well, let's say that the supply rate is £150 a day. Let us say that they go to an agency, which takes £20 off it. If the school employs them directly, the teacher gets the £150, rather than getting £130 and the agency getting £20.

Yes. And, as I said, that is an option for schools, but we're not seeing schools necessarily going down that route. But that would be a conversation we could have with schools if it becomes an issue for them.

And I think we hit the nail on the head about direction earlier on. Those information data gaps have to be fully understood, and we can ask schools to provide this information—it is public money. So, I think that's an important issue to pursue. I'm not so sure about the direct employment, because in terms of, then, pension costs and in terms of national insurance, those on-costs would come back to the school, even though they'd have absolute flexibility over that. So, with regard to the two-tier workforce that there is in terms of employing agency staff rather than the pooled, new framework, which would cover that teacher certainty around pensions, et cetera, what do you think the main blockage is in terms of schools choosing to go onto the booking system? Is it that it's just more expensive for them as a school, rather than using an agency?

My own thinking is that it's the flexibility they have, and sometimes, as well as schools being able to select where they source their supply teachers, supply teachers can also choose how they enter the workforce. So, there may be teachers who are not registered within the framework and may wish to be employed slightly differently. That is something we can look into to understand. We are really committed to trying to ensure that there's consistency here and there is fairness, but there's undoubtedly an issue with employing teachers where there are the on-costs that you would expect in a fair and equal environment. There's undoubtedly a financial pressure with that for schools, and you can have some sympathy with that when they are faced with a gap. And whilst there is a range of solutions, most of the decisions have to have financing and budgets in mind.

Yes, it was just to point out that some local authorities—and there are fewer than, obviously, historically, but there are three or four—who still operate their own supply list model. So, I think that's really important to note. And I think Mike Hedges is absolutely correct, as well, that schools, I think, particularly where they have experienced supply teachers who understand the school, do come to separate arrangements. That's certainly the case with my wife, for instance, who goes through Cardiff Works, but is more or less a full-time permanent teacher, albeit a supply one. So, I think it does differ from local authority to local authority and from school to school. So, I think it's just an important point to make. Anglesey and Gwynedd, for example, still run their own list system, So, it's not that agency is the de facto across Wales I think is the important point to make. 

Can I just interject? Do you have any data showing whether that model generates lower or higher costs overall than the agency model?

Not—[Interruption.] Sorry, go on, Sioned. 

I don't to hand, but, again, it's something we could come back to the committee on if that was something of interest, Chair. 

Thank you so much, Chair. I just wanted to understand from you whether the Welsh Government has evaluated the new agency framework, will it be, and if, indeed, the Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate has conducted any work in this area to date. 


So, they've recently—. The Employment Agency Standards Inspectorate recently did an audit on all the agencies appointed to the frameworks. They completed an audit on the previous framework last year. The number of issues identified fell, but there was an issue with one framework agency and corrective measures are being taken on that front.

Okay. Fantastic. All right. I believe those are my questions done, Chair.

Thank you very much indeed. In which case, I invite Mike Hedges to pick up the questions.

Diolch, Cadeirydd. How concerned is the Welsh Government about the risk of schools employing unqualified staff for cover, both short term and long term, rather than employing teachers, in the context of budget pressures?

I think that's a really good question, because I think it is an issue. So, the position on who can carry out teaching work is set out in statutory regulations and the Welsh Government provides guidance around not only interpreting statutory regulations, but also what we would expect from that. There are—. We are—. There is quite a lot of noise in the space around individuals being asked to perform duties that they are either not qualified for or are certainly not being paid for, which is a really big issue. We've not had any formal notification of anything along those lines as far as I'm aware.

Chair, there is a report of National Education Union Cymru that says that around 13 per cent of agency staff have been asked to work outside of their mandate. I don't know whether you've seen or got access to that.

I haven't seen that.

But we'll reflect on that and come back on the point then. Thank you.

And on this section, whether the Government has updated figures for 2022-23, showing the spend and number of cover days worked through the agency framework by job role. I don't expect you to answer that in full, but, if you have got that information, can you send it to us?

Yes. So, I can just give you a highlight. So, we've got framework data relating to December 2023 and it shows that there is a small proportional increase in teaching assistant bookings, with a small decrease in supply teacher framework bookings. So, on the face of it, it may indicate that there is some substance in the two points that have been raised, so that is something that we will be looking into.

Yes. I don't think we can take this much further, but I think that further information on this, on numbers, might be helpful. As my friend Natasha Asghar said, we're known as 'the spreadsheet committee', so, if you can provide additional numbers, it would be helpful.

Moving on to agency fees, what's the Welsh Government's understanding of agencies' justification of their fees and whether it is comfortable with such a wide variation in fees?

So, the agencies are commercial entities, so they operate within that environment, and the schools are free to use whichever agency best suits their purposes. What we have done through guidance and the controls that we've put around is to ensure that those fees are as transparent as possible so that, when schools have to make the decision around finding supply cover, they are really clear about what that cover will cost them and the terms and conditions around that. So, we can't control how the agencies operate, because they are commercial entities, but we can control—well, not so much control, that's probably the wrong word, but—we can help to make those decisions as easy as possible.

I'll start off with an ideological view. I don't believe that supply teachers should be employed via agencies, I think they should be employed directly via the local authorities, either in a consortium or individually, but that's a political view, so I don't ask that you comment on that, because you'd be straying then into the realms of politics, but do you know the average cost of agency fees per local authority, and is there any big discrepancy?

I don't. I can come back to you.

Thank you. Are you certain—? Perhaps that's a bit too strong a word. Are you confident—that might be a better word—that agencies clearly indicate their fees on invoices, as stipulated under the agency framework?


I'm as confident as we can be, and we've not had—as far as I'm aware; I'm cautious to say that now—any responses back to indicate that they're not. As far as I'm aware, they're as clean and as transparent as they can be.

Thank you. I'll invite Rhianon Passmore to take up the questions.

Thank you. So, I'm right, I think, in saying that the platform has been rolled out as a pilot in Anglesey.

Yes, okay. And we're not quite clear as to the take-up yet at the moment.

And when will that be reviewed—or evaluated, sorry—in terms of being able to monitor it, because obviously as a pilot it's going to be really important to us to understand that take-up?

I'll just come back to Owain at the end, about the timeline for this, but we know that the feedback has been broadly positive, and I have got some figures. We know that approximately 50 per cent are now using the teacher booking system, and 80 per cent of jobs have been filled, with 94.5 days of work booked via Teacher Booker on Ynys Môn. And it actually feeds in quite well to Mike Hedges's comment around being employed more directly. If this pilot is successful and is deemed to deliver the results it needs to deliver, then this is a model that could look to be rolled out wider. We are working with the Welsh Local Government Association to see whether we can agree on the platform that would need to be created as an employer, because we would really need a national platform to employ. At the moment, it's worked quite well with Ynys Môn, because they already had an existing payroll for the teachers and it linked really well with the teacher booking system. If you are then rolling this out across the whole of Wales, you kind of need that payroll platform, so we're working with the WLGA on that to see whether they would be open to step in to this space to see whether that's an option to take forward, so we would then have a national payroll platform, potentially, for this. But, as ever, things are really complicated. This is a really, really difficult area, so it's taking its time.

I think everybody would understand that it's very difficult, because you're working in a commercial environment and we're using public money around this, and how best value that public purse is going to be is going to be a matter not just of the finance, really, but it's about the quality and the development.

So, in terms of expediting the pilots around Wales, and obviously the ongoing work with the WLGA, can you just be really simple—what are the main blocks in terms of rolling it out across Wales? Have we got a handle on that?

So, what we're trying to do at the moment is work with the authorities who've got an existing supply pool. Owain mentioned a couple earlier. I would say the main challenge is—. Obviously we need to evaluate the pilot; that goes without saying. The main challenge is, I think, about getting this national platform for the payroll. Somebody needs to own the supply pool in Wales, and if a national platform isn't something that appears feasible, then we need to be considering different ways to do this, based on the feedback from the pilot and how successful that has been. Is that sufficiently simple?

Yes, that's fine—thank you. So, the early feedback that Welsh Government received on the booking platform from Anglesey is just as you've stated, really, isn't it? It's just waiting for that evaluation, and, if you could let us know when that evaluation will take place, I think that will be fine, and then, in this particular section, how is the new booking platform going to be set up in local authorities that do not have an established central pool of supply teachers, and whether the Welsh Government has set out what it considers would be a sufficient pool for other local authorities?

Yes. I probably just need a bit more clarification around that. And again, we don't know what 'sufficient' is going to be. That's the very simple answer. We don't know what that's going to look like. So, some clarity, I suppose, around what that might look like would be really helpful. On the terms of your question—. Was there anything—I shouldn't be asking you a question, but—was there anything specific that you were thinking of in terms of the supply? Is it particularly numbers, or is it broader?


We need to have two things clear, don't we? We need to know what the gap is in terms of how many supply teachers are actually working across Wales via agencies. We don't have the 8 per cent because of the lack of data coming through to Welsh Government around that. So, I think the data around this is really, really important; we have to have a real handle on that.

Anyway, I'm straying into my views. So, I'm going to go on to talk about the impact of the booking platform. How is the Welsh Government, then, promoting—? You mentioned this right at the beginning that you've advertised it on the website. So, to expedite this, and, obviously, I understand the point about being able to have the system, the payroll system, but to expedite it other than that, and to sell and market this to schools in a really proactive way, how are you working with all of the represented bodies—you mentioned the WLGA—to be able to really say 'Hey, this is really, really good, it's good for teachers, it's good for your teaching assistants, it's good for your school, you've got a consistency very much similar to directly-employed supply teachers, it's good for professional development, it's a win-win situation for motivated staff'? How are we actually selling that to schools and heads?

Well, we're having those conversations at all levels of the partnership working that we are undertaking at the moment. It is on—. One of the changes that we've made—. Supply teachers didn't use to have access to Hwb, and, therefore, weren't able to see it; they now have access to that. So, it's about integrating supply teachers so that it's less of a 'them and us'; supply teachers become part of the ecosystem of the school, particularly in situations where they may be there for very long periods of time. So, that partnership working—. We're expecting, as we have to do in times when resources are constrained, a number of shoulders to be sharing the message as well, so that we are genuinely in partnership, and it's not Welsh Government pushing, pushing, pushing this; this is about Welsh Government setting out and enabling this and working with partners to spread that message further. 

Okay. And, obviously, in terms of a supply teacher, they're not going to go to an INSET day if they're not getting paid for it, and, if they're from an agency, they won't. 

Okay. So, how do you feel the Welsh Government has considered the success, then, of the new booking platform take-up and impact?

So, the success of it has been from the feedback. So, we've had good feedback. We've had good take-up. And those two bits of evidence are quite compelling in themselves. The roll-out in Ynys Môn I think people are watching with interest to see how that operates as a pilot, and how we can take that forward. But I'm not—. Success looks like a really flexible system that enables both the teachers—supply and permanent contract teachers—the schools and the pupils to have the best possible outcome from the new platform moving forward. And as I mentioned earlier, evaluation on that is something that we are keen to embed to make sure that we are making the changes that need to be changed. And we can adapt and flex it. I think that's really important as well, because, I think, historically, not just in the education portfolio, anywhere else, we have perhaps brought things forward, and, having brought policies and activities forward, have thought that the job is done. And the job is never done, and the job always needs to be reflected on. And that's what's really encouraging, I think, around this area of work. It's recognised really early on that this job is not done. And I think, from the Wales Audit Office initial report, and then the Audit Wales follow-up report, it's really clear that, even through a period of extreme difficulty, that focus on that the job is not done—. And, actually, this committee itself, the questions being asked, we will build and we will reflect and we will be able to make improvements based on the conversation we're having now. 

And in terms of the assessment of the additionality of administrative costs and other on-costs for using a rolled-out pan-Wales system, assuming that it has learnt from the pilot in Anglesey, how do you feel that would be mitigated for? And do you see that there'll be ongoing costs, administratively, for schools—


I would be very bold to say there won't be any ongoing costs. There were bound to be some sort of ongoing costs.

Okay. I'm going to keep that.

And then finally from me, because we've covered some ground, how does the Welsh Government see the booking platform and, importantly, if you do, the agency framework working alongside each other in practice—is that possible—and ensuring they are complementary and not in competition, because we've essentially got a system of A Tale of Two Cities here?

I think, initially—. Again, Owain will come in if I'm saying something really wrong here. Our ambition is to provide schools with as much flexibility as possible and to provide the teachers, on either platform, with as much flexibility as possible. So, for me, a mixed economy in this space would be good, with choice and flexibility as part of that. And we'll be looking to evaluate this. It's too early to evaluate yet how they compare and contrast and where the strengths are. But I think, at the risk of repeating myself, if I go back to the fact that we are embedding evaluation into this process, so we will have opportunities to look at that, once we have clarity around the pilot and more data around the framework moving forward.

Okay, we look forward to that coming back to this committee then, Chair, thank you.

Thank you. Can I just ask a supplementary? From personal experience, one of my adult children was employed as a agency-supplied supply teacher from the beginning of the pandemic, supporting pupils with additional learning needs, both during the pandemic and in the months after lockdown. He was then directly employed as agency staff for the latter 10 months of his work in that area. You were on about flexibility. So, there was, clearly, flexibility there, to move from one to another. Is that a widespread approach across the 22 local authorities, enabling that transition from agency to direct? And how would the new platform and framework facilitate that sort of flexibility?

So, I would be very bold if I answered that one without the knowledge I need to have on it, but, Owain, do you know whether there's any evidence of that and how flexible that is?

No, we don't have any evidence to hand that that is widespread across Wales, and I think it comes back to the point I made earlier, and the example you give is a very good one, where schools are taking individual decisions to maybe go off the framework and to directly employ. But we don't have that granularity of detail.

As Sioned says, I think what's important for the supply workforce, and certainly in discussions with unions and others, is that, moving forward, supply teachers feel that they have the choice and flexibility. For some, the agency route will be the right choice because it suits their needs, but for others—. Certainly, I think Ynys Môn has shown the appetite from supply there to engage with the Teacher Booker platform. It is fairly straightforward to use from what I understand. For others, they will want that choice to work on that route, and I think it's that which we need to encourage. But, obviously, alongside that desire, we have to now, I suppose, move from the Ynys Môn pilot to try and get additional local authorities on board, so that's something that we're working hard on at the moment, and maybe we go down, initially, the route of bringing in other local authorities who have supply pools, and to build that capacity and capability in that way, really.

Okay, thank you. Moving on, could I invite Adam Price back in to take up the questions?

Diolch yn fawr, Cadeirydd. Dwi am droi nawr at y cwestiwn o ansawdd. Allwch chi ddweud pam roeddech chi—y Llywodraeth Cymru hynny yw—wedi gwrthod argymhelliad yr archwilydd cyffredinol yn 2020 i nodi mesurau llwyddiant hirdymor clir ar gyfer ansawdd ac i fesur camau gweithredu yn eu herbyn? Ac ydych chi wedi rhoi ystyriaeth bellach i hyn ers hynny?

Thank you, Chair. I want to turn now to the question of quality. Could you tell us why you—the Government that is—rejected the auditor general's recommendation in 2020 to set out clear, long-term measures of success for quality and to measure actions against? And have you given further consideration to that since then?

Diolch. Dŷn ni wedi meddwl mwy amdano fe. Ar y pryd, roedden ni'n eithaf clir taw dal at y safonau proffesiynol oedd y peth lle'r oedd Llywodraeth Cymru yn gallu gwneud argraff a ble allwn ni gael rhyw fath o rôl. Ond eto rŷn ni'n glir o hyd taw mesur safonau yw rhywbeth i'r ysgolion. Dydyn ni ddim mewn lle i allu mesur y safonau a sut mae athrawon yn ymateb yn y dosbarth. Felly, rŷn ni'n glir iawn taw dyna ble rydyn ni o hyd ynglŷn â hwnna.

Thank you. We have given it more consideration. At the time, we were quite clear that we wanted to stick with the professional standards and that's where we could make the biggest impression and where we could have the biggest role. But we're still clear that measuring standards is the role of schools. We're not in a place where we can measure standards and how teachers respond in the classroom. So, we're clear that that's still where we are on that.


Felly, does dim unrhyw fwriad gyda chi i newid eich penderfyniad ar hyn o bryd, felly.

 So, you don't have any intention of changing your decision at present.

Na, ddim ar hyn o bryd.

No, not at present.

Pa gamau ŷch chi yn eu cymryd, serch hynny, fel Llywodraeth, i atgyfnerthu ansawdd o ran y ddarpariaeth gyflenwi?

What actions are you taking, despite that, as a Government, to reinforce quality in terms of cover provision?

Wel, dwi'n meddwl gwnaethom ni eu trafod nhw tipyn bach yn gynharach, ond, eto, gwnaf i wahodd Owain mewn, os yw hwnna'n iawn, Gadeirydd. Dŷn ni yn treial hybu ambell i bwnc ble does yna ddim digon o sgiliau gyda ni, ac yn enwedig rownd yr iaith Gymraeg a'r heriau sydd fanna. Ond, Owain, wyt ti'n gallu jest ymestyn bach mwy ar hwnna? Diolch yn fawr.

I think that we discussed this earlier on a little bit, but, again, I'll bring Owain again, if that's okay, Chair. We're trying to promote some subjects in particular where there aren't enough skills, and especially surrounding the Welsh language and the challenges around that. But, Owain, if you could expand on that, please. Thank you.

Mae hynny yn ymwneud â darpariaeth, ontefe—hynny yw, mae'r cwestiwn yn ymwneud yn benodol ynglŷn ag ansawdd o fewn y ddarpariaeth.

That relates to provision, doesn't it, but the question relates specifically to quality within the provision.

Ie. So, ar y cwestiwn penodol hwnnw, dwi'n meddwl gwnaeth Sioned sôn yn gynharach fod y rheoliadau statudol sydd gyda ni yn hollbwysig o ran sicrhau bod pobl sy'n gweithio yn y sector ac mewn ysgolion yn ymwneud â hynny, felly mae rheoliadau clir. A dwi hefyd yn meddwl soniodd Sioned gynnau fod yna drafodaeth dŷn ni wedi'i dechrau ar hyn o bryd gyda rhai awdurdodau lleol o ran trio deall yn well a oes yna rywbeth yn digwydd ar hyn o bryd, yn enwedig lle dyw yna ysgolion efallai ddim yn mynd at athrawon cyflenwi, eu bod nhw efallai yn mynd at gynorthwywyr dosbarth, oes yna fwy i wneud fanna i gadarnhau beth yw'r disgwyliadau.

Yes. So, on that specific question, I think Sioned mentioned earlier that the statutory regulations that we have are vital in terms of ensuring that people who work in the sector and in schools adhere to that, so the regulations are clear. I also think Sioned mentioned that we have started a discussion with some local authorities in terms of trying to better understand whether there is anything happening at present, and, where schools don't go to supply teachers and might use classroom assistants, is there more we can do there to confirm what the expectations are.

O ran y rheoliadau roeddech chi wedi cyfeirio atyn nhw, ydych chi o'r farn bod y rheoliadau presennol yn ddigonol fel y maen nhw, neu oes yna le i ystyried cryfhau'r rheoliadau ymhellach?

In terms of the regulations you did refer to, do you think that the current regulations are sufficient as they are, or is there room to consider strengthening the regulations further?

Sori, Owain, wyt ti'n pigo hwnna lan, neu—? Mae e wedi mynd yn blanc.

Sorry, Owain, are you picking that up, or—? It's gone blank.

Ie. Sori, Sioned—hapus i bigo hwnna lan. Dwi'n meddwl, ar hyn o bryd, does gyda ni ddim bryderon ehangach ynglŷn ag a ydyn nhw'n ddigon cryf ac ati. Ond, fel pob dim arall, dŷn ni'n trafod yn gyson gyda'r sector a oes yna bryderon, a oes yna bethau sy'n dod trwy'r sector sy'n dangos bod yna problemau newydd yn codi, ac felly os oes angen mynd nôl ac edrych ar hynny, ar y rheoliadau yna, gwnawn ni ei wneud. Ond, ar hyn o bryd, does yna ddim byd amlwg sy'n dod trwyddo, dwi'n meddwl, yw'r ateb syml.

Yes. Sorry, Sioned, I'm happy to pick that up. I think, at present, we have no broader concerns about whether they are strong enough and so forth. But, like everything else, we have regular discussions with the sector as to whether there are concerns and whether there are things coming through the sector showing that there are new problems arising, and so, if we do need to go back and look at those regulations, we'll do that. But, at present, there is nothing obvious coming through—I think that's the simple answer.

Iawn. Diolch yn fawr am hynny. Gan droi, felly, at ddysgu proffesiynol a datblygiad proffesiynol, sut mae mynediad at yr hawl genedlaethol ar gyfer dysgu proffesiynol yn gweithio yn ymarferol o dan y fframwaith asiantaeth newydd?

Okay. Thank you very much for that. Turning, therefore, to professional learning and development, how is access to the national professional learning entitlement working in practice under the new agency framework?

Dyma'r un gwnaeth Owain gytuno cymryd fel pwnc wrthyf fi, oherwydd mae e'n deall y pwnc yma cymaint yn fwy na fi, ar ôl dim ond mis yn y rôl. So, Owain, drosodd atat ti, os gwelwch yn dda.

So, this is the one that Owain agreed to take on as a subject, because he understands the subject a lot better than me, having only been in the role for a month. So, over to you, Owain.

Ocê. Efallai gwnaf i droi at y Saesneg, achos mae yna dipyn o bethau sy'n haws imi ddweud yn y Saesneg.

Okay. I'll turn to English here, perhaps, because there are things that are easier for me to say in English.

There's a lot going on, I think, in the space of professional learning. Firstly, we've got a national professional learning entitlement now, which plays a key role in ensuring that all practitioners, including supply, have access to consistent high-quality professional learning throughout their career, to, obviously, enable them to deliver high-quality teaching and learning, so I think that's a really important development, that learning entitlement.

In September last year, we launched a new professional learning area on Hwb, which, as you will know, is our digital learning platform. That's currently in beta phase, and we continue to evolve that. So, we ensure that users get the best experience and, obviously, as with the rest of Hwb, it's accessible to supply teachers and other cover staff. We've got new arrangements to quality assure professional learning in Wales—they're currently being developed. So, we've got a national endorsement panel, which is chaired by Professor Ken Jones. Again, that is there to ensure that only professional learning that is of the highest quality will be endorsed, and the new approach to quality assuring professional learning will be aligned to our national approach to professional learning. So, there is obviously investment that goes in to ensure quality professional learning across Wales. And so, all of those things I think, together, ensure that the entire profession, including supply and other support staff, get the access that they need.


Thank you, Chair. And in that regard, Owain, what measures are in place as we sit here today to ensure or to mandate that all of our commercial agencies across Wales are utilising those mechanisms and those professional learning entitlements and the qualitative INSET training that we require of our statutory school teaching staff?

Okay. So, one of the things that we do as part of the framework is to, once a year, undertake an exercise to review local authority not just spend but a range of other things in terms of the framework. And one of the things that that captures is what's happening when it comes to training and professional learning opportunities. So, for instance, I've got some figures here. So, data indicate that, in 2020, there were 723 training courses provided by the framework agencies, and that that, by 2023, had risen to over 2,000—I think it's around 2,149. Nine thousand workers, in terms of agencies, back in 2020 were trained, and that's risen to 18,000 in 2023. So, I think—

Can I interrupt you, Owain? Sorry to do that, but just so I fully understand what you're saying, are we saying that we require agencies who are working in this public space to ensure that everybody on their books is having access to this, or is it just voluntary for the commercial agencies?

No, they should absolutely be enabling and ensuring that people on their books are accessing the professional learning that they'd require. But I'm happy to come back with more detail around what—

Yes. So, my question would be: how are we ensuring that as Welsh Government? Because I can absolutely say to you that that does not happen across the board.

Okay. I'd be happy to return with more information on that specific question, Chair.

Diolch, Gadeirydd. Jest o ran y data yna a'r broses yna o gasglu data, ydy hwnna'n ein galluogi ni i ddweud pa ganran o athrawon cyflenwi sy'n derbyn hyfforddiant? Mae gyda ni ffigurau, er enghraifft, er mwyn cymhariaeth, oddi wrth yr NASUWT, a oedd yn dangos, ymhlith yr athrawon y gwnaethant hwy eu holi—yr athrawon cyflenwi—fod bron i dreian, 31 y cant, yn y flwyddyn dan sylw, 2021-22, heb dderbyn unrhyw hyfforddiant o gwbl. So, oes gyda chi nawr ffigurau canrannol cyfatebol?

Thank you, Chair. Just in terms of that data and that process of data gathering, does that allow us to say what percentage of supply teachers do receive training? We have figures, for example, for comparison, from the NASUWT, which showed that, among the teachers that they questioned—the supply teachers—nearly a third, 31 per cent, in the year in question, 2021-22, had not received any training at all. So, do you have any corresponding percentage figures?

Does dim ffigurau canrannol fel y cyfryw gyda fi y bore yma, ond eto mae e'n rhywbeth y gallwn ni—. O ran y ffigurau y gwnes i sôn amdanyn nhw gynnau, dwi'n meddwl bod dy gwestiwn di'n bwysig o ran, 'Wel, sut mae hwnna'n edrych fel canran o'r gweithlu cyflenwi ar y cyfan?' Yn sicr, mae hwnna'n rhywbeth y gallwn ni edrych arno gyda swyddogion ac eraill, i weld a oes yna fwy o granularity o gwmpas hynny.

I don't have any percentage figures as such with me this morning, but again it's something that we can—. In terms of the figures that I mentioned earlier, I think that your question is important in terms of, 'Well, how does that look as a percentage of the supply workforce as a whole?' That's certainly something that we could look at with officials and others, to see whether there's more granularity around that.

Ie, a jest—. Yn ogystal â chasglu data trwy'r asiantaethau, o ran yr hyfforddiant y maen nhw'n ei ddarparu, ydych chi hefyd yn casglu data ar nifer yr athrawon cyflenwi sy'n manteisio ar ddysgu proffesiynol trwy ddarpariaeth Cyngor y Gweithlu Addysg?

Yes, and just—. In addition to data gathering through the agencies, in terms of the training that they provide, do you also gather data on the number of supply teachers who take advantage of professional learning through the provision of the Education Workforce Council?

'Dwi ddim yn hollol siŵr' yw'r ateb gonest ar hynny. Eto, mae e'n rhywbeth y gallwn ni—. Mae Cyngor y Gweithlu Addysg yn casglu llawer o ddata—[Anghlywadwy.]—os oes yna fwy o wybodaeth. Ond dyw e ddim gyda fi bore yma, fel y cyfryw. 

'I'm not entirely sure' is the honest answer to that. Again, it's something that we can—. The Education Workforce Council does collect a lot of data—[Inaudible.]—if there is more information, but it's not available today. 


Gallwn ni bigo hwnna lan fel rhan o'r data dŷn ni'n dod nôl atoch chi ag ef. Gallwn ni bigo hwnna lan fel rhan o hwnna, os yw hynny'n help.  

We can pick that up in the data that we're going to send back to you. We can pick that up as part of that, if that's helpful.

Iawn, diolch. A gaf i droi, felly, at y pwnc olaf sydd gyda fi dan sylw y bore yma, sef tâl ac amodau athrawon cyflenwi? A allaf i ddechrau trwy ofyn pryd fydd adolygiad corff adolygu cyflogau annibynnol Cymru o gyflogau ac amodau athrawon cyflenwi yn cael ei gyhoeddi? Ac a ydych chi'n gallu rhannu unrhyw wybodaeth gyda ni y bore yma o ran y canfyddiadau hyd yma?

Thank you. Could I turn to my final subject this morning, namely the pay and conditions of supply teachers? Could I start by asking you when the review of the independent Welsh pay review body of supply teachers' pay and conditions will be published? And could you share any information with us this morning in terms of the findings so far?

Diolch yn fawr am y cwestiwn. Dŷn ni wedi ystyried yr adroddiad, a dŷn ni'n disgwyl iddo fe fod ar y wefan o fewn y cwpwl o wythnosau nesaf, dwi'n credu. Dyw e ddim yn addas i ni ar hyn o bryd drafod beth sydd yn yr adroddiad, oherwydd dŷn ni eisiau siarad â'r stakeholders a'r bobl eraill sydd yn rhan o hwn cyn inni fynd ymhellach, i wneud yn siŵr ein bod ni'n gwneud hyn mewn partneriaeth, ond bydd e ar y wefan cyn hir. Diolch. 

Thank you for the question. We have considered the report, and we are expecting it to be published on the website within the next few weeks, I think. It's not appropriate for us at present to discuss what's in the report, because we want to discuss this with stakeholders and other people who are involved in this before we take it any further, just to make sure we do this in partnership, but it will be available on the website soon. Thank you.

A allaf ofyn pam wnaeth Llywodraeth Cymru benderfynu peidio â chynnwys athrawon cyflenwi sy'n cael eu cyflogi trwy asiantaethau o fewn cylch gwaith adolygiad corff adolygu cyflogau annibynnol Cymru? 

Could I ask why the Welsh Government decided to not include supply teachers employed through agencies within the remit of the review by the Welsh independent pay review body?

Oherwydd roedd e wedi ffocysu ar y supply teachers employed through local authorities, neu directly by schools, oherwydd dyna'r unig rai oedd yn cael eu cyfro yn y schoolteachers' pay and conditions (Wales) document. Dyna pam roedden ni wedi gwneud hynny ar y pryd. 

That was because it focused on supply teachers employed through local authorities or directly by schools, because they're the only ones that were covered by the schoolteachers' pay and conditions (Wales) document. That's why we did that at the time. 

Gyda newidiadau yn ystod y flwyddyn i gyflogau athrawon yn ystod 2022-23 wedi eu hôl-ddyddio i ddechrau'r flwyddyn academaidd, a gafodd athrawon cyflenwi ar y fframwaith asiantaeth y cyflog ôl-ddyddiedig cyfatebol yn ôl eich gwybodaeth chi? 

With in-year changes to teachers' pay during 2022-24 having being backdated to the start of the academic year, did supply teachers on the agency framework receive the equivalent backdated pay according to your information? 

Na, aeth e'n syth i'r athrawon supply, ond hefyd roedd e mor gymhleth i fynd nôl at edrych ar beth oedd pob ysgol yn gwneud ynglŷn â sut oedden nhw'n cyflogi athrawon. Roedd e'n amhosib, rili, i fynd nôl i edrych ar hwn i edrych am athrawon dros dro oedd yn gweithio mewn lot o ysgolion neu awdurdodau lleol. Roedd e jest yn amhosib i wneud hwnna, ond aeth y backpay mor glou ag y gallai i'r supply.

No, it went directly to supply teachers, but also it was so complex to go back to look at what every school was doing individually in terms of how they were employing teachers that it was impossible for us to go back and look at this for supply teachers who had been working in several different schools or local authorities. It was just impossible to do that, but the backpay was provided as quickly as it could be to supply teachers.

Ac yn olaf, a allaf ofyn sut mae Llywodraeth Cymru yn sicrhau bod asiantaethau yn gweithredu o dan y fframwaith asiantaethau er mwyn cydymffurfio'n llawn â'u trefniadau contract i alinio cyflog ar y gyfradd isaf o gyflog athrawon? 

And finally, how is the Welsh Government ensuring that agencies operate under the agency framework in order to comply fully with their contract arrangements to align pay with the minimum rate of teachers' pay?

Owain, buaset ti'n meindio pigo hwn lan, plis, oherwydd y testun? Diolch. 

Owain, would you mind picking this up, please, because of the subject? Thank you. 

Iawn, dim problem. Felly, yn gyntaf, mae data yn cael ei gasglu pob chwarter. Dŷn ni'n edrych ar hysbysebion sy'n mynd allan ac unrhyw broblemau, unrhyw faterion sydd wedi codi ac sydd wedi cael eu riportio mewn i'r tîm commercial sy'n delio gyda'r fframwaith, neu i ni fel swyddogion addysg. Felly, mae hwnna'n digwydd yn rheolaidd. Mae'r data sy'n cael ei adrodd yn dangos bod compliance o gwmpas 99 y cant gyda'r fframwaith, ac yn sicr o ran y minimum pay rate gan yr asiantaethau. Felly, mae hwnna'n gadarnhaol. 

Os yw ysgol, wrth gwrs, yn penderfynu peidio â defnyddio’r asiantaeth sydd ar y fframwaith, wedyn, yn amlwg, does gyda ni ddim unrhyw reolaeth dros hynny. Mae hwnna’n fater i’r ysgol. Ond dwi’n meddwl, fel y soniwyd gennym ni yn gynharach, mae’r analysis yn dangos bod oddeutu 92 y cant o’r gwariant sy’n digwydd yn digwydd gyda’r fframwaith asiantaeth. Felly, dwi’n meddwl bod y cam yna yn dangos, ar y cyfan, fel dywedais i, fod yna faterion weithiau yn dod mewn, a dŷn ni’n clywed amdanyn nhw, ond ar y cyfan mae’r compliance yn eithaf uchel o ran hynny.

Yes, no problem. First of all, data is gathered on a quarterly basis. We look at the adverts that go out and any problems or issues that have arisen, and that have been reported to the commercial team that deals with the framework, or to us as education officials. So, that happens regularly. The data that is reported does show that compliance is around 99 per cent with the framework, and certainly in terms of the minimum pay rate among the agencies. So, that is positive. 

If a school decides not to use an agency on the framework, then, evidently, we have no control over that, and that's an issue for the school. But I think that, as I mentioned earlier, analysis does show that about 92 per cent of the expenditure that happens is happening within the agency framework. So, I think that this shows that, on the whole, issues do get reported, but compliance is very high despite that.


Iawn. Diolch yn fawr. Dyna'r cwestiynau i gyd a oedd gen i, Gadeirydd.

Okay, thank you very much. They were all the questions I had, Chair.

Thank you very much indeed. We move towards the last set of questions. If I could start with just a brief supplementary on the professional learning aspect, I will start with a personal story. Again, the same with my adult children. In his first week as an agency supply teacher, he was actually supporting autistic pupils in a mainstream hub during lockdown, to start with, but one of the pupils he was supporting started visibly going into anxiety, the early stages of meltdown, and other staff were going up to that pupil with the best intentions, going very close to him, touching him, asking him if he was okay, and of course he was becoming more and more visibly anxious. My son, with a little bit of knowledge, calmly went up, asked everyone to move away, give this pupil some time and space, and he had an opportunity to calm down and get to the place he wanted to be. At the end of the day that pupil found my son, in his first week in that role, and said, ‘You’re the best teacher I’ve ever had.’ It didn’t cost anything.

So, a concern—. For example, the National Autistic Society Cymru gave evidence to the cross-party autism group last year on education casework, and they showed that the worst-case example—I won’t name it, but one county in Wales had 14 per cent of all referrals, three times the national average. I know from my own casework, because I get a lot in this area, invariably where it goes wrong, it’s where people, even the ALNCOs, the additional learning needs co-ordinators, have based their training and knowledge on statutory or online training, but not on lived experience training. So, what consideration are you actively giving or have you embedded into the process to ensure that agency staff and permanent staff receive within their training and development, continuing professional development, lived experience training, both in terms of neurodevelopment conditions and learning difficulties?

Again, Owain will come in with the details, but ALN is an incredibly complex area. My expectations would be, though, for professional training of all sorts to ensure that teachers are trained to be able to respond to situations that they may expect in their school environment, and that would encompass not just the subject and some of the bureaucracy around it, but indeed those other skills that are required for any adult working with young people, particularly vulnerable young people. So, there is a range of opportunity for training on that, and I would expect schools and teachers to be adapting their picking and choosing of the courses that are available to ensure that they have plugged any gaps that they may have.

I don't know the situation, obviously, that you refer to, but there would be an expectation that generally there would be somebody on site who has an understanding of some of the complex needs that may be required, and may be able to step in. It's very much for schools to be able to identify what they need to do within their environment, but from a professional training perspective, I would expect ALN and other—I'm going to say 'more niche', but, of course, they're not niche these days, but other things that are perhaps not traditionally considered as professional training to very much be part of, and embedded into, the offer for teachers, and in working in partnership, there's an opportunity for us to plug any gaps there might be in that space. But if I could ask Owain, who is much closer to this than I am.

And considering my question was specific to lived experience training. I personally know a lot of people who provide that role who are academics, some of them in further or higher education institutions, who also have diagnosed conditions, or have family members with diagnosed conditions.


Yes. If I can, my daughter did teacher support after A-level, before going to university, and exposed to me the complexities in a school that I thought didn't really have the sorts of issues that clearly she was exposed to and was asked to deal with, in a school with a very middle-class pupil background, generally. So, I recognise that there's an awful lot of activity that happens in a school that is not visible to those parents and those teachers who don't have the needs there, but it's really important, in my view, that teachers have the broadest possible spectrum of skills to help them, to deliver their role as effectively and as confidently as possible. This is such a sensitive area that confidence in knowing whether you're doing the right thing or the wrong thing is as important as knowing the skill, actually.

Thank you. I don't know, does Owain Lloyd wish to add to that, or not?

I think we may have lost Owain. He's not on the screen anymore. He's bailed on me. [Laughter.]

In that case, I'll move to my final question, and our final question for the day, unless colleagues have any supplementaries. To what extent is the Welsh Government taking any other significant actions to address issues relating to the covering of teachers' absence, including costs, quality and sufficiency of cover, which you have not already detailed to us?

I don't think there's anything that hasn't already been detailed to you that I could cover here, but it is really just to emphasise the progress that has been made and the partnerships that have developed since that initial Wales Audit Office, as was, report. The strides and the development that's happened in the period have been quite astonishing, accepting that there's been a pandemic in there—schools and education systems have been thrown upside down with a lot of that. There are huge challenges in the sector, and we are doing, as a Government, anything that we can to try and take the pressure off teachers, to try and reduce bureaucracy. The Minister is committed to that, and, as officials, we are committed to try and ensure that we make his vision a reality.

Finally, then—from me, anyway—in regard to the challenges the teaching workforce faces—they're unprecedented, for all the reasons that we're all aware of—in terms of the potential of this national supply pool and platform for being able to support the work of teachers and teaching workforce across Wales, do you feel that at the moment that's relatively untapped, and how big do you think that potential is? I don't know if you could answer that, but could you attempt to?

I could attempt to. I think the potential will rely on the ambition. So, with an ambition, a clear ambition, I think the potential there—. I think it's important that we see how the Ynys Môn pilot actually works out. I've stipulated—and I think Owain also said—the practical difficulties around it are not to be underestimated. This is really, really difficult territory, but the ambition is to make sure that schools, and by definition, then, students and learners, have the opportunity, if a teacher is ill, or is not available for whatever reason, have a supply source that actually helps them to teach and to carry on their learning journey, and that it doesn't become, perhaps as it was in my day, just a reason to muck about while there was somebody sitting there reading a book. That was my experience of supply teaching; I want that to be really different. The officials and myself are working really hard to try and realise the Minister's ambition, to make sure that supply teaching is given the status it needs to have and that supply teachers are enabled to become properly part of that community in a school, add value and carry on the learning journey for pupils.

Thank you. Do Members have any further questions? In that case, that brings our questions to a conclusion.

Diolch yn fawr.

Thank you very much.

I think I might be back here again at some point with the topics I have in my portfolio.

Diolch yn fawr iawn i chi.

Thank you very much.

Well, given that you've only been in your role a month, you've done—. You had a lot to deal with.


Thank you very much. Diolch.

So, thanks very much to both witnesses—to Sioned Evans, to Owain Lloyd. You can pass on our thanks to him, if you speak with him.

I'll find him now. [Laughter.] 

A transcript of today's meeting will be published in draft form, and shared with you to check for accuracy before being published in its final version. So, that's it. Thank you very much again.

Diolch yn fawr iawn. Thank you.

Thank you very much. Diolch.

4. Cynnig o dan Reol Sefydlog 17.42 i benderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod
4. Motion under Standing Order 17.42 to resolve to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting


bod y pwyllgor yn penderfynu gwahardd y cyhoedd o weddill y cyfarfod yn unol â Rheol Sefydlog 17.42.


that the committee resolves to exclude the public from the remainder of the meeting in accordance with Standing Order 17.42.

Cynigiwyd y cynnig.

Motion moved.

Okay. Well, I propose that, in accordance with Standing Order 17.42(ix), or nine, that the committee resolves to meet in private for the remainder of today's meeting. Are Members content?

I see that Members are content, so I'd be grateful if we could go into private session.

Thank you very much. Diolch yn fawr i chi.

Derbyniwyd y cynnig.

Daeth rhan gyhoeddus y cyfarfod i ben am 11:00.

Motion agreed.

The public part of the meeting ended at 11:00.