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How to oppose leaving the TPS

FAQ for members in Independent schools proposing to leave the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

Some employers are planning to leave to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). Put simply, they are arguing that they can’t afford the scheme. 

For a few this will be true. But, for many, it is a choice. The catalyst was a significant increase to the employer contribution rate in September 2019 from 16.4% to 23.6%. The scale of the increase is in part due to unnecessary government decisions. The situation has been exacerbated by Coronavirus and the measures taken to try to prevent its spread.

To withdraw from the scheme, your employer must give written notice to the Secretary of State for Education. The school will cease to be part of the scheme from the date specified in a written notice given to its proprietor by the Secretary of State. Usually, once an application is received, it will take approximately a month to leave the scheme.


Under pension regulations, the employer must conduct meaningful consultation. After, that there is the matter of contract, including contractual notice, and remedies that employees and trade union members have.

The NEU believes that meaningful consultation means:

  • A clear proposal. 
  • An agreed process and timetable.
  • Adequate time for staff to consider the proposals, not less than 90 days.
  • Full details of proposed alternative provision.
  • Full disclosure of all relevant financial and other information, including school finances, to enable staff to ask pertinent questions, propose alternatives and make informed decisions. 
  • Genuine consideration of staff proposed alternatives, at the end of the consultation period. 
  • A robust and independent staff representative body. 

For most teacher members, the TPS is a fundamental part of their remuneration. For many, it is also part of their contractual terms and conditions. Even where this might not be the case, leading independent school lawyers are advising employers to treat it as such.

Yes, you have two opportunities to do so. First in the consultation on the scheme itself required under the pension regulations. Second, on any change to your contract of employment.

Yes, NEU members in at least 49 independent schools have successfully prevented their employer leaving the scheme.

Act collectively as the NEU. Follow the advice on these webpages, especially the Action plan. Use the model letters. Refer to the calculator.

Hopefully, not! Withdrawing labour is always the last resort when all attempts at negotiation have failed.  However, the threat of industrial action may be necessary to change the employer’s mind. And striking has been successful.

Yes, your local NEU offices, or branch, will be able to help organise meetings, coordinate campaigns and help with ballots. Contact us

Being in the TPS is a deal-breaker for many NEU members. Leaving the scheme is likely to have a knock-on effect on teacher morale and school’s ability to attract and retain teachers.

No. The Pensions Regulations require that an independent school employer who is a member of the TPS must offer it to all eligible staff. This means that it cannot close the scheme to new entrants.

Yes. The decision was due in Spring 2020. As of September 2020, the outcome of the consultation is still to be announced, having been first delayed by the General election and then the Coronavirus.

Some employers have taken matters into their own hands by offering their employees a choice of remaining in the TPS [to comply with the legal requirements of the scheme] with no pay increase, or in some instances a pay cut. Those opting to come out of the pension scheme receive a pay rise, or least remain on the same salary.

Following the successful legal challenge by Firefighters and Judges to the changes to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme implemented in 2015, the government has announced a public consultation on how to remove the age discrimination. The options in the TPS consultation give eligible members a choice between Final Salary Scheme benefits or Career Average Scheme benefits from 2015 to 2022. Compensation for members in the LGPS will be different owing to the different structure.

There is no need for members to take any action at this point.

The Government has already confirmed that members of all public pension schemes [including TPS] will be compensated on the same basis as the litigants in the cases already decided in respect of judges and firefighters, without any need to lodge their own cases. Any compensation claims remain unclear.

Yes, but any fees will come out of any compensation that you would have been given in any event. This could be an unnecessary bill as much as £1,800 (£1500 plus VAT) in legal fees.

If your employer decides to leave the TPS, your benefits accrued to date will be protected, and you will become a deferred member.  You can claim your TPS pension benefits at your normal retirement age.

Yes. You will need to be employed in the maintained sector or another independent school that has remained in the TPS.

The TPS is a Defined Benefit Scheme giving you the certainty of how much you will receive in pension. A DC scheme states only how much will be contributed, not the level of pension.

Some DC schemes allow members to choose the level of contribution they wish to pay, with a related employer contribution. Contributions are invested on behalf of each scheme member.

The retirement benefits for each member depends on how much money has been built up by the member's retirement date and how well the investment has performed. 

See our detailed comparison

Under all reasonable assumptions a DC pension cannot provide anywhere near equivalent retirement benefits to the TPS. The likely outcome of leaving the TPS is that members will receive a significantly smaller pension at retirement.

See our detailed comparison

A comparison between the TPS career average section and a DC pension will vary based on rate of return, earnings growth, contribution level and member age.  Even if current pension contribution levels to the TPS are mirrored in a new DC scheme, the TPS career average pension still provides a superior outcome. It should be noted that neither the Aviva nor the TPT schemes mandate a minimum level of contribution higher than the statutory minimum.

See our detailed comparison

The NEU has undertaken some pension modelling to provide examples of the different level of retirement benefits one can expect from the TPS and a DC scheme. 

To find out more about your TPS pension, register for My Pension Online in the Member Hub section of the Teachers' Pensions website and gain full access to all your information including years of service, retirement age, current level of pension benefits and pension flexibilities.

We recommend that you seek personal independent financial advice.  NEU members can receive a free, no obligation initial consultation, either 1-2-1 or school meeting.

Financial advice may be available through myRewards.

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