Mrs Butler said: 'I have always made it clear that school teachers' pay and conditions of employment is the statutory responsibility of the department for education and employment on an England and Wales basis. It has not been devolved to the assembly.
'The pay threshold assessment's sole function is to determine whether a pay point can be awarded. It forms part of the pay and conditions remit and is not a matter on which the assembly can exercise functions. It therefore follows that the threshold assessment will be against common Wales and England standards. The standards and principles will be the same in Wales and England, not least in the interests if fairness and consistency.
'However, following discussions the department for education and employment has agreed that while the standards and principles of the pay threshold will be the same across Wales and England, there should be some differences in the mechanics of the threshold assessment arrangements to reflect Welsh circumstances.
'I welcome the decision to make use of expertise particularly related to the circumstances in Wales. This is good news. Continuing common pay standards are important as we need to show the world that teaching standards in Wales are the equal of those in England or elsewhere. We do not want a system which would lead people to think that expectations and performance were lower here than elsewhere.
'Delivery of the threshold process by systems in tune with Welsh needs and with experience of the welsh education system will give everyone confidence the process will be organised in a sensitive and appropriate way.'
1. The School Teachers' Review Body's recommendations, announced on 1 February, apply to both Wales and England. The policy and administrative responsibility for the pay and conditions of teachers in Wales and England rests with the secretary of state for education and employment. It is not a function devolved to the assembly.
2. The secretary of state for education and employment has indicated that he proposes to accept the recommendations with minor modifications. He is consulting statutory consultees before he makes provision by order for teachers' pay and conditions in 2000-2001.
3. The central change is that the existing pay spine for classroom teachers will be replaced by a simplified pay spine and an upper pay range. Promotion to the new upper pay range will be based on a specific performance assessment - going through the 'pay threshold' - which will mean a guaranteed increase in basic pay of£2,000.
4. Teachers who have passed the threshold will have the opportunity to move further up the new upper pay range and receive higher pay rises for substantial and sustained achievement in total worth up to£1,000 a year to a total of£4,000. This is in addition to the new basic salary increase of 3.3%.
5. While the standards and principles of the Performance Threshold will be the same across Wales and England, the department for education and employment have indicated that there will be some differences in the mechanics of the threshold assessment arrangements to reflect Welsh circumstances.
6. The department for education and employment have also agreed that the threshold assessment process could in principle be completed to a slightly different timetable in Wales than in England, as the scale of the work is not of the same order. At this stage the provisional intention is that threshold application forms should be issued to teachers in Wales after Easter, with the timetables for application and assessment adjusted to fall into the autumn term.
7. More detail about the arrangements for implementation of the threshold in Wales will be provided once the arrangements for implementation have been discussed more fully with the local education authorities in Wales. This slightly different timetable would not disadvantage teachers in Wales as they would still have their pay uplift backdated to 1 September 2000 (as in England) but more time would be available to carry out the necessary training and to consider applications.