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Almost one in four UK independent schools considering leaving teachers’ pension scheme, says Punter Southall Aspire

Nearly a quarter of the UK’s independent schools have left, or are set to leave, the pension scheme for teachers, finds a Freedom of Information request made by Punter Southall Aspire.

A total of 284 of 1,222 schools say they have left or intend to make their exit as the cost of contributing to the pension scheme has risen from 16 to 23 per cent, and with a looming further review due in 2022.

This means the price tag for schools has increased by 43 per cent because of increased contributions they have to make, putting even more strain on budgets already under significant pressure.

Back in September 2019, 59 schools had left the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) but our request in September this year found they have since been joined by a further 213 with 12 more giving notice.

Punter Southall Aspire’s Stuart Arnold and his team have been working with more than 30 independent school clients to help them with this challenge.

Stuart said even more are set to leave as higher costs pose an increasing risk, even though  any new contribution rate will be pushed back to April 2024 as the sector adjusts in the aftermath of the pandemic.

This provides valuable time for schools to consider their place in the TPS and any alternative to ensure no rushed decisions are made.

Stuart said: “Financial managers, governors and bursars have enough to deal with at the moment without this added, further pressure.

“Costs for this pension scheme are only going one way. It might be a cost some schools are willing to bear but our work tells a different story for many. Pensions are a valuable, important benefit and we believe in helping teachers to achieve their retirement goals.  Every school is unique and we support them to make the right, individual decision for them and their teaching staff.

“A pension is a powerful recruitment and retention tool but only if it’s cost-effective, sustainable and fit-for-purpose. As we have seen from those which have left, there is another way forward for both schools and teachers.”

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