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Headmaster’s blog – 2nd June 2011

June 2, 2011

We have just had a visit from Desmond Swayne, MP for New Forest West. He came at my invitation to talk with teachers about the Government’s plans to reform the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) following the recent Hutton enquiry into public service pensions.

Independent school teachers enjoy the right to belong to the TPS but there is now a recommendation to exclude us from it – as well as to increase employee contributions and to raise the age of retirement for teachers to 68 years. Desmond Swayne (a contemporary of mine since our Prep School days in Scotland) was reassuring about his opposition to excluding independent school teachers from the TPS but he was less supportive when it came to resisting reform of the scheme.

Teaching Unions contest that the TPS was reformed in 2006 and it enjoys a glowing report from the National Audit Office. There are strike ballots in the offing for the main teaching unions and, whilst we don’t anticipate disruption in independent schools like Ballard, there is considerable angst amongst staff.

Many in our profession have eschewed more lucrative salaries in other employment in order to dedicate their lives to the education of young people and have always understood that a ‘safe’ pension was one of the benefits of other sacrifices made. We now face a potential extra pension contribution of around £200 a month, a smaller pension at retirement and spending longer in the profession – ‘paying more for longer and for less’ as one union puts it. Moreover, if independent schools are excluded from the TPS this could seriously harm improving relations between Maintained and Independent sectors and restrict the movement of good quality teachers from the one to the other.

MPs like Desmond Swayne (who was himself independent school educated, taught for eight years in the sector and had two children at Ballard) are thus being lobbied hard by teachers across the country!

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