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. 

  • Consultation outcome: Teachers' pension scheme on phased withdrawal proposal

    The NEU is very disappointed that the Government has agreed to the proposal to allow a so-called “phased withdrawal” from the TPS was announced.

    The Government has announced, following consultation, that from Spring 2021, independent sector employers will be able to deny TPS membership to new teachers, while continuing to offer it to existing staff. The current rules require an independent sector employer who elects to join the scheme to offer TPS membership to all eligible teaching staff

    This new option will impact on employers’ decisions to leave or remain in the scheme. Some members may think this is a way in which their own pension might be saved.  However, the NEU does not believe that this decision is in the general interest of our members in the independent sector, given that moving school may now lead to loss of TPS membership.  Nor do we believe that it is for the good of the profession.

    The NEU strongly believes that all teachers, regardless of phase, or sector, should enjoy a good pension. The TPS is an integral part of a teacher’s remuneration.

    We are concerned that the decision will further undermine the TPS in the independent sector. Some employers will be emboldened to withdraw in the belief that staff opposition will be less in that their own pensions will be protected.

    Segregating teachers on such a key term of employment will build walls. It will damage the attractiveness and unity of the teaching profession as a whole; hinder movement between sectors and schools; hamper a school’s ability to recruit and retain quality teachers; and hit younger teachers hard.

    In making the decision on how to respond to an proposal from your employer to leave the TPS, we call on members to consider the bigger picture and, wherever possible, robustly resist proposals to leave the scheme, either in one fell swoop or by phased withdrawal.

    You can read the full decision here:  Teachers' Pension Scheme: independent schools phased withdrawal, consultation response

Use the following materials to assist members:

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.

Reasoned argument

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.