Teachers asked to sacrifice pay to save their pensions

Union criticises 'hybrid' version of Teachers' Pension Scheme, in which staff must absorb 43% employer contribution hike

Pensions: staff asked to sacrifice pay to remain in Teachers' Pension Scheme

Teachers in some independent schools are being asked to sacrifice their pay in order to stay in the Teachers' Pension Scheme, Tes has learned.

Under a new "hybrid" arrangement, teachers are being asked to meet a 43 per cent rise in employer contributions out of their own pay packets because independent schools are struggling to balance the books.

Nikki Miller, chief operating officer at Taunton School in Somerset, which is set to introduce the hybrid scheme in May this year, said about half of teachers had opted for it.

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Ms Miller said, as a rough estimate, that a teacher on a salary of £30,000 would pay about £64 a month extra, but that would be covered by the 2 per cent pay rise that the school was expected to award staff next year.

She said other teachers had opted for a defined contributions scheme linked to market fluctuations, which included an option to vary the size of contributions.

At the Grange School near Northwich, Cheshire, teachers had threatened to go on strike after being offered the hybrid scheme, for which they were told they must make "a salary sacrifice". But Tes has today learned that the chair of governors has written to staff stating that plans have been withdrawn. One teacher there said: "Strike averted. We have our pensions back."

NEU teaching union regional secretary Peter Middleman said he knew other independent schools in the North West that were considering the scheme.

He said that where it was being covered by teacher pay rises, it was worth noting that teacher pay had already fallen by 16 per cent in real terms since 2010.

Mr Middleman added: "Increased pension contributions forced on employers are not desirable, but a good employer would look at mitigating the impact on staff."

It's estimated that about 5,000 teachers in approximately 100 independent schools, mostly smaller independent schools, could be taken out of the Teachers' Pension Scheme because of the increase in employer contributions.

This has led to threats of strike action while some schools have been forced to close and others have been forced to merge.

Unlike state schools, independent schools do not get any support from the government to cover the hike.

The Department for Education has declined to comment.

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Dave Speck

Dave Speck is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @Specktator100

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