Private schools told state sector teachers don’t recognise value of their pensions

Private schools told state sector teachers don’t recognise value of their pensions

Lord Agnew has claimed that teachers in the state sector do not fully realise the value of their pensions, following confirmation that the DfE is considering allowing schools in the independent sector to close its pension schemes to new teachers.

Amidst fears that a 43 per cent rise in employer contributions is crippling some independent schools, the DfE has agreed to consider the possibility that some schools could be allowed to partially leave the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

The move could mean that DfE will allow private schools to deny new teachers the benefits of existing pension schemes.

Following a consultation on the proposed increase, the DfE stated that it had noted the cost pressures that the increase in employers’ contributions would place on the sector, as well as “the desire from independent schools to attain greater flexibility over their status in the scheme”.

The document sent on to state: “By way of a potential mitigation to the risks identified, the department will begin work to consider allowing independent schools to leave the scheme via phased withdrawal.

“This potential phased withdrawal approach would enable a school to retain its current teacher members in the scheme but would close the scheme to new entrants.”

The document added: “This approach would be optional to all independent schools who are members of TPS.

“The department accepts there is a case for this and will consult with members, employers and other stakeholders at the earliest opportunity.

“A statutory consultation would be required before any amendments to the scheme regulations are made.”

Following the DfE’s response, Schools minister Lord Agnew addressed a conference of independent-school leaders. During his speech, he claimed that teachers in the state sector were ungrateful for their pensions, saying: “[State-school teachers] don’t recognise that they’re getting a 42 per cent increase in pensions contributions.

“They don’t say, ‘How wonderful – the state is really looking after us’.”

Speaking at the Conference held at Brighton College, he also criticised the DfE’s decision to allow independent schools to amend their pension rules, claiming that the change was “appalling”.

“No one’s going to thank us,” he said. “No one realises the benefit that people in the scheme are getting.”

In response to a remark by a member of the audience who claimed the pensions increase for the independent sector left them feeling “under attack,” Lord Agnew said:

“It’s not a DfE issue,” he said. “They need to take it to the government and the Bank of England.

“There’s nobody in the DfE cooking up this idea that we want to wallop the independent schools with a 42 per cent increase in pensions’ contributions. That’s appalling.”

“I’m appalled that we’re going to have to divert some £700 million a year to meet an actuarial requirement, and no one’s going to thank us. No one realises the benefit that people in the scheme are getting.”

However, Mary Bousted, joint general secretary of the NEU teachers’ union, claimed that Lord Agnew had spoken out of turn, commenting: “Teachers won’t see any cash increase in what they receive, in terms of their pensions. Really, [Lord Agnew] needs to think before he speaks.”