What is the context? The employer pension contribution to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) is valued every four years. From September 2019, the rate was increased from 16.48% to 23.6%. This rise currently is fully funded in state-funded schools, FE, sixth form colleges and other training providers.
The government does not intend to fund the rise in independent schools (or HE). Short notice meant that independent schools were unable to plan for it. The additional financial burden resulted in some independent school employers considering opting out completely from the TPS, and instead looking for alternative pension provision for their employees. Consequently, the government is now proposing to allow independent schools a phased opt-out from the TPS, whereby existing members are kept in the scheme which would then be closed to new recruits at whatever level.
ASCL position: Where a teacher or school or college leader in an independent school meets the eligibility requirements for the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) and wishes to enrol or remain in the scheme, then their employer should make this provision available.
Why are we saying it? Whilst we recognise the financial burden of employer pension contributions, the answer cannot be to withdraw or partially withdraw from the TPS. Instead, employers should make every effort to make savings elsewhere in order to continue to offer access to the TPS for our members.
Access to a high-quality pension scheme is a fundamental benefit which all eligible teachers and school leaders should receive. We are concerned that phased or blanket withdrawal from the TPS will be of detriment to teachers and leaders working in the independent sector, on recruitment and retention in the sector, on mobility between schools and sectors, and on the financial cost of the TPS.
(NB This is an update to the position statement from June 2019)