More than 50 independent schools have decided to retain membership in the Teachers’ Pension System (TPS) for current educators, while scrapping it for new teachers, understands.
According to the largest UK education union, this move will “build walls”, hinder movement between schools and sectors, and “hit younger teachers very hard”, warning warned.
According to government data, 22 private schools told the TPS they planned to withdraw the scheme in phases by February. Tes however understands that over 50 schools are planning this move.
This is because some schools are still not declaring their intentions to TPS and 23 schools in the Girls’ Day Schools Trust (GDST) have not been added.
After the 2019 increase in the rate of employer’s contributions, hundreds of private schools left the TPS, many more have since followed their lead. Private schools were not covered by the government’s increase in state schools.
Independent schools have had the option to withdraw from TPS “Phased” since September 2021. This allows them to keep existing staff members active, but also offer new staff an alternative.
Dr Mary Bousted is the joint general secretary for the NEU teaching union. She stated that segregating teachers through the “phased withdrawal” option would eventually “build walls” between staff members.
Tesvia Freedom of Information Request has found that 22 schools have informed the TPS that they intend to withdraw from the scheme in a “phased” manner. 11 of these schools said they were planning a complete withdrawal. There are still 1,049 private schools in the scheme.
Dr Bousted stated that the trend toward “phased” withdrawals from the scheme by private schools was “not for the general interest” and was against the best interests of the profession.
She said that the NEU believes all teachers should have a decent pension, regardless of their sector or phase. TPS is an integral component of teacher’s remuneration.
Teachers who are not employed for a specific term will be segregated. It will reduce the attractiveness and unity in the teaching profession; it will hinder movement between schools and sectors; hinder a school’s ability of retaining quality teachers; and it will be a major blow to younger teachers.
Last month, teacher-members of NEU at schools within the GDST went on strike in protest against the GDST’s plans to withdraw from the TPS.
The strike action was ended last week when the GDST allowed current staff to continue in the TPS. However, the NEU stated at that time that it was concerned by proposals to close down the TPS scheme for new teachers.
Barnaby Lenon (chairman of the Independent Schools Council) stated that the ISC did not believe the trend towards phased retirement would have an impact on teachers’ choices about where to work. He said that there are other considerations than pension plans.
David Woodgate, chief executive officer of the Independent School’s Bursars Association (ISBA), stated that the ISC had supported the “phased” withdrawal option. This meant that some schools could “mitigate unreasonable increases in employer contributions over the time”, while the existing teachers would remain within the scheme.
He said: “It’s important to emphasize that phased withdrawal can be a long-term option, and is not feasible for schools who are already facing significant financial pressures.”