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Over-50s escape pensions changes

NO teacher aged 50 or over will lose out on pension benefits as a result of plans to raise the retirement age to 65, ministers pledged this week.

And all teachers will still be able to retire at 60, according to schools minister David Miliband, writing in today's TES (below).

The minister was seeking to clarify the pensions picture following uproar caused by revelations in the TES that the retirement age for teachers would rise to 65.

However teachers now under 50 who go on to quit at 60 will see a cut in benefits relating to any service after the proposed changes come into effect. Benefits earned before any changes will be unaffected.

Unions remain concerned that poorer pensions will damage recruitment and retention. Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the National Union of Teachers, accused the Government of betraying teachers, who were given no warning of the change.

He said: "Teachers by the age of 60 frequently feel they cannot go on and that is why so few teachers are in the 60 to 65 age group. The Government is forcing people who feel they are burned out and want to retire to stay in the profession. That will not be good for those teachers or their pupils."

Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, welcomed the protections for older teachers.

But he added: "It is still going to affect huge numbers of teachers who have joined a scheme that will be changed. We will be having urgent discussions with the Government."

In March 2001, the most recent year for which age-related data is available, there were 96,100 full-time regular qualified teachers aged 50 or over in England, making up 26 per cent of a total 364,500. Only 3,000 were aged over 60.

Mr Miliband said it was likely that new entrants to the profession, would join a scheme with retirement at 65 from 2006. But it is still not clear when existing teachers will see their annual pension benefits cut - Mr Miliband would only say there would be no "immediate" effect for them.

He suggested that the new teachers' scheme would still be attractive. "All public-sector pensions will have to change - and final salary schemes are becoming rarer for new private-sector employees."

FE Focus, 34

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