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Thousands will retire with zero pension

Around 20,000 teachers are heading towards retirement without a pension, government-commissioned research reveals.

The study of supply teachers in England found that more than half are not paying into any pension fund. The research by academics from London Metropolitan and Glasgow universities surveyed a sample of more than 40,000 supply teachers estimated to be working in England, of which 85 per cent were under the pension age of 60. Of that age group, 55 per cent were not contributing to a pension. For supply staff in their 20s the figure was much higher, at 87 per cent.

The main reason is that private agency staff are not eligible to pay into the Teachers' Pension Scheme. A few agencies offer pension schemes but take-up is limited, the research found. But even where teachers worked directly for councils or schools, and so could pay into the Teachers'

Pension Scheme, around 40 per cent under 60 did not do so.

Mary Bousted, Association of Teachers and Lecturers general secretary, said: "By putting newly- qualified teachers into schools encumbered by student debt, who feel they cannot afford pension contributions, we are only storing up problems for the future."

The study also reveals that the vast majority of schools and teachers are ignoring a government scheme to guarantee the quality of supply agencies similar to the Kitemark scheme.

It found that the "most challenging" schools are getting fewer qualified and experienced supply staff despite often being charged more by agencies and using them more than other schools.

The DfES introduced its Quality Mark for supply agencies in May 2002 to boost confidence in the industry following the scandal over Amy Gehring, a Canadian supply teacher who admitted having sex with a 16-year-old pupil.

Yet its research reveals that only 8 per cent of schools look for the mark when choosing an agency.

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