NEU concerned for independent school teachers' pensions

The National Education Union (NEU) has said that it is “extremely concerned” about independent schools threatening to leave the Teachers' Pension Scheme following changes to employer contribution levels.

NEU joint general secretary, Kevin Courtney, said that, in a response to changes made by the Treasury which increased the level of employer pension contributions, “some independent schools are threatening to withdraw from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme”.

He continued: “The NEU will challenge that robustly and has already persuaded some schools to change their mind.”

Discussing the issue at the Annual Conference of the NEU, it was noted that some schools in the independent sector used non-pensionable allowances “to remunerate staff for duties such as boarding, sporting and library”.

It was also noted that the practise seemed to be spreading into the “maintained sector” and that, due to the change in pensions to a “career average scheme”, that this now has a "detrimental effect on future pensions”.

Courtney added: “We are increasingly concerned that some independent schools do not pay pension contributions on payments for additional responsibilities for duties such as boarding, library or sports.

“Where this happens, it will clearly affect our members’ pensions in retirement. In most cases, the law says that the school should in fact be paying pension contributions on these payments.”

In it's conference agenda, NEU stated: “Conference agrees that such allowances are in fact pensionable under the rules of the Teachers' Pension Scheme, and that action is need in order to ensure compliance and avoid a detrimental effect on pensions.”

NEU has said that it plans to hold discussions with teachers' pensions and independent schools bodies in order to ensure that all independent schools that are part of the Teachers' Pensions Scheme are making the correct pension contributions.

It also said that it will campaign for all qualified teachers in the independent sector to have access to the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Courney concluded: “The NEU is also calling on teachers pensions and independent school employers to make sure that pension contributions are paid when appropriate.

“The NEU is offering to work with partners to ensure that independent school employers know when pension contributions should be being paid.”

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