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.
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.