Shadow education secretary calls for the reform of retirement scheme

29th October 2010 at 01:00

The "winding-down" scheme for teachers nearing the end of their careers needs to be reformed, the Scottish Labour Party will hear today.

Des McNulty, the party's shadow education secretary, will tell its conference in Oban that making the scheme more flexible would create vacancies for unemployed post-probationers.

"At present, teachers lose pension entitlement if they reduce the number of days they work and the way the pension itself is calculated is determined by earnings in the final years of a teacher's career," Mr McNulty will tell delegates.

"As a consequence, teachers are hanging on until they have their 40 years' service or in the hope the council offers them a package. If the rules force them to stay on, teachers are less likely to have the positive commitment they may have had earlier in their career, especially if as they get older they find the job itself more stressful and demanding."

Mr McNulty wants to see more part-time working, more team-teaching and more collaborative working across schools as part of a wider package of change.

He also wants to see this kind of flexibility extended to headteachers nearing retirement so that new appointees can have on-the-job training and mentoring alongside the incumbent before he or she retires.

The winding-down arrangements are part of the national teachers' agreement, introduced in 2001, but there has been low take-up of its provisions.

At the same time, staffing cuts by local authorities have led to a drought in permanent posts for post-probationers. The annual survey by The TESS in August showed a decline in the number of new teachers finding permanent contracts from about one in three four years ago to one in nine this year.

The Scottish Government sought to free up more posts for new teachers by offering councils borrowing opportunities to run "teacher-refresh" schemes to support early retirement packages for older staff. But only two authorities took up the offer.

elizabeth.buie@tes.co.uk.

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