Pension scheme reforms must be rejected before it is too late

20th December 1996 at 00:00
From Phil Silvester

I have never written to The TES before but I am doing so following a recent discussion with my father-in-law who spent most of his working life as a thoroughly committed deputy head in a small village primary school in the Midlands.

We discussed the Government's proposed changes to the Teachers' Superannuation Scheme which will effectively prohibit teachers over the age of 50 retiring early. Few of this Government's educational initiatives will have such profound and damaging consequences on a generation of children.

It is widely accepted that successive governments have failed to invest teachers' pension contributions effectively, and, when the profession cries out for a period of consolidation with hope for the future, we are in danger of having this hope removed once and for all. Since the Treasury needs to resolve a financial shortfall now, regulations are being promoted to disadvantage and demoralise all teachers.

My father-in-law has always compared teaching with the police and his comment to me was whether, given the same set of circumstances, an attractive police pension scheme would be reviewed and worsened? An extremely unlikely eventuality, we agreed.

Why then should all members of our profession pay for the myopic and inept past financial management of our pension fund by successive governments? If the proposed changes to the pension scheme are enacted, the cost to the profession and the nation will be huge.

All teachers should follow their professional association's advice and urge their MP to reject the latest proposals to our pension scheme before it is too late.

PHIL SILVESTER Headteacher, Westfield Grant-Maintained School, Preston, Weymouth, Dorset

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