The increase in the employer contribution to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS) in September 2019 has seen a sizeable number of independent sector school employers withdraw from the scheme. Coronavirus in 2020 has exacerbated the situation.
Though, NEU members collective action has achieved notable and widespread success to forcing their employers to think again and to remain in the scheme.
NEU members will achieve significant successes in the future.
As things stand, most independent sector employers in the scheme, remain.
Use the following materials to assist members:
An illustrative comparison of likely loss if members are moved to inferior pensions schemes away from TPS.
NEU model letter for Independent school teachers to send to Governors, opposing withdrawal from the TPS
Model letter for independent teachers seeking meaningful consultation on TPS with governors.
Response to FOI request for a list of establishments that notified intention to withdraw from the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS).
Campaign updates 2020
NEU members successfully challenge proposals to leave the TPS
If members had a fight on their hands before Coronavirus, the fight just got tougher!
But NEU members in the independent sector are successfully challenging employer proposals to leave the TPS and break contracts of employment,
49 and counting - NEU collective successes - TPS
Prior to the lockdown in March 2020, NEU members have successfully persuaded their employers not to leave the TPS in 49 school consultations.
The key to success? Acting collectively and resolutely as the NEU.
NEU members have successfully challenged proposals to leave the TPS, in workplaces ranging in size from small preps to large HMC schools.
Sometimes reasoned argument is enough. You can read a NEU rep’s blog on a successful NEU representations to governors at south London independent school.
Of course, the task is easier if you act fast and nip it in the bud. However, it is never too late!
In one small Suffolk school, our members won a victory at the 11th hour. Things were so advanced that their employer had issued a Section 188 letter detailing dismissal and re-engagement and informed the parents that the school would withdraw from TPS. Supported by NEU Regional officials, members got organised by electing two NEU reps, who then led on staff suggestions on alternative cost savings. Members made clear the strength of feeling that staff would take industrial action to preserve their pensions. After negotiation, the employer agreed to withdraw the proposals.
NEU TPS strike ballots
However, the seriousness of the threat to pensions and employer resolve has meant that many members have had to reluctantly ballot on strike action to demonstrate the importance of the issue to staff and their resolve.
Before the corona virus hiatus [March to August 2020], NEU members requested strike ballots in 37 independent schools: 23 indicative and 14 formal ballots. Often the show of resolve is enough.
However, in two instances, as a last resort, members have taken strike action. You can read about a NEU TPS strike, which resulted in the employer’s decision to remain in the TPS.
Coronavirus not a TPS ‘get out of jail free’ card
Members, teachers and support staff, need to be alert to employers who think that the coronavirus is a TPS get-out of jail free card not to increase pay, cut pension and increase workload. Members need to be ready to push back.
TPS - most schools remain in the scheme
85% of independent schools in the TPS remain.
In response to a NEU Freedom of Information Request, the Department of Education has stated that as at 31 March 2019, there were 1,171 independent schools in England & Wales in the TPS.
In response to a NEU Freedom of Information Request, the Department of Education has stated that as of 20 August 2020, 178 Independent schools have applied to leave the scheme.
This is approximately 15% of total. It puts the lie to an employer arguing that they are leaving because all the other schools are. Or to out it another way, 85% of schools remain in the scheme.
You can influence the outcome
As the largest and most influential union in the independent sector, if NEU get organised as act as one, then you have a good opportunity to influence the outcome.
For further information on the steps to take see the Action Plan.