Exclusive: Teachers' Pension Scheme exodus escalates

Hundreds more private schools in process of quitting TPS because of the financial pressures of Covid and Brexit

Catherine Lough

Coronavirus schools

Hundreds more private schools are on course to leave the Teachers' Pension Scheme because of financial pressures caused by the pandemic, Tes can reveal.

David Woodgate, chief executive of the Independent Schools' Bursars Association, told Tes that 201 schools have now officially given notice to leave the scheme, while 150 more are in consultation about leaving.

News: One in 10 private schools leaves Teachers' Pension Scheme

Revealed: Schools leaving the Teachers' Pension Scheme

Pensions: Teachers face battle to save their pensions

In June 2020, a total of 149 schools had given notice to leave the scheme.

And in November, the government gave the go-ahead for a “phased withdrawal” of independent schools from the scheme, where new teachers would be prevented from registering in the scheme while existing members could remain in it, introduced as legislation from this spring.

Private schools leaving Teachers' Pension Scheme

Mr Woodgate said: “By mid-December, 201 schools had left the TPS, which we know from an FOI [freedom of information] request, and at least 150 are at some point in the consultation process.

"In part, this is in response to the impact of the pandemic, because schools have, for instance, made fee reductions and may have frozen fees for the current academic year."

Mr Woodgate said the combined financial pressures of the pandemic and Brexit were leading schools to leave the scheme.

“Because of the continuing impact of Covid and Brexit on the  economy and other factors, firms of actuary with which ISBA works are suggesting that employers' contributions could go up to 30 per cent from 2023, and in the event of negative interest rates, that could even go as high as 35 per cent," he added. 

"There’s an element of speculation there but actuaries don’t make these suggestions lightly, and schools should be looking at prudent financial risk management."

Mr Woodgate said for the majority of the 150 schools in consultation to leave the TPS, it was likely they would leave completely rather than opting for a partial withdrawal, although he added that this was speculative and subject to human resources consultation and evaluation.

He said that no private schools had closed permanently this academic year but that some would be looking to merge or consolidate because of the increased financial pressure from the pandemic. 

Register to continue reading for free

It only takes a moment and you'll get access to more news, plus courses, jobs and teaching resources tailored to you

author bio

Catherine Lough

Catherine Lough is a reporter at Tes.

Find me on Twitter @CathImogenLough

Latest stories

Covid in schools, GCSEs 2021, teacher safety: LIVE

Coronavirus and schools: LIVE 1/3

A one-stop shop for teachers who want to know what impact the ongoing pandemic will have on their working lives.
Tes Reporter 1 Mar 2021