Teachers’ pensions: returning to the fray

Whilst most of the attention recently has understandably been on the COVID-19 crisis, the past few months have seen a number of developments regarding the on-going impact of increases in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) on the independent schools sector.

An ever increasing number of independent schools have left (or are leaving) the TPS.  The latest freedom of information request by the NEU has revealed that, as of 22 May 2020, 149 schools had already notified the Government of withdrawal.  However, these numbers look set to rise significantly in the next few months.  A large proportion of schools have until now adopted a “wait and see” approach to TPS but the damage to balance sheets caused by the COVID-19 crisis means that for many this is no longer an option.  Fee reductions and pressures on pupil rolls due to the wider economic contraction mean that revisiting the TPS question is now on the agenda for many of our clients this summer.

Whilst many previously on-going TPS consultations have been placed on hold in the last few months, we have noticed an increasingly aggressive approach by trade unions to the question of formal trade union recognition.  Applications for voluntary recognition continue to be made but now the unions are moving very rapidly to make statutory applications to the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) where they do not see immediate progress to a signed recognition agreement.  Careful negotiation in these circumstances is critical in order to ensure that any recognition agreement reflects the best interests of the School.

The right approach to the multi-faceted challenges of the TPS issue continues to be different for each school depending on its unique situation and financial circumstances.  For further details of how we can support you and a range of fixed fee and flexible pricing options, please see our newly updated [Moore Barlow TPS Services Booklet].

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We can offer expert legal advice whether you’re involved in state, private or independent schools. We also have a team of experienced charity law solicitors who can provide specialist support for educational institutions with charitable status. Get in touch today for more information.