Helpline

24th January 1997 at 00:00
Q. I have completed two years of teaching and have contributed to the teachers' pension scheme. I hold Canadian citizenship as well as British and intend to move to Ontario within the next five years. Will I be able to transfer my pension? Would additional contributions be beneficial to me?

A. I cannot give you a positive answer - you must contact the Teachers' Pensions Agency in Darlington. The transfer of pensions is allowed in some circumstances, but the attitude of the relevant agency in Ontario would have to be established.

The question of additional contributions is probably not relevant to the transfer question. If you can, you will transfer the accrued value of your pension at the level it has reached. If you are thinking of moving soon, however, it may not make sense to make additional contributions to buy in added years, unless you are doing so by investing a lump sum. The more usual scheme for serving teachers is by making contributions over a fixed period - for example, 10 years.

If you belong to a teachers' union, I am sure that they will be able to offer you expert advice to supplement the information you receive from the official bodies.

Q. Is a school obliged to disclose known medical conditions of students on UCAS applications?

A. UCAS guidance suggests that it may be helpful if relevant information about health or personal circumstances is included. The purpose, as I understand it, is to allow schools and colleges to offer special pleading on behalf of candidates, rather than to disclose what would be confidential information. They are under no obligation either to disclose or not to disclose particular matters.

For example, it would be helpful to write that Fiona's marks in her first two A-level modules were lower than expected because she spent several weeks in hospital following a skiing accident, or that William's achievements were all the more remarkable in the light of his poor eyesight. Similarly, bereavements or other personal experiences which might affect exam or interview performance might be mentioned.

Your question underlines the importance of adopting a process in the preparation of UCAS references which fully involves the students so that, while they may not necessarily see the actual document, they are fully aware of what it contains. References to health and other matters would form a natural part of such discussions.

The TES Management Guide for Heads and Senior Staff, based on Archimedes' Helpline column, has now been published by Butterworth-Heinemann at Pounds 14.99, but is available to readers for Pounds 10.99. Tel: 0345 660890

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