There are many benefits to remaining in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, but it’s inevitable in the economic climate that schools are looking at value for money and possible savings.

We’ve invited Tracey Trotter, experienced in working with Bursars and Senior Leaders, to offer up her guidance to exploring the alternatives and how to implement.

Considering consultation about withdrawal from the TPS?

I think it’s inevitable that the costs will continue to rise and you need to prepare for absorbing another leap in those costs. What’s the impact for the school? Well, it comes down to increases in fees or savings elsewhere in pay, staffing levels or resources and potentially reduced investment in your facilities; none of these are an easy challenge to face.

I guess many of the Heads are still protective of the benefit package on offer for teachers so will be wary, but when you take all these other risks into consideration it is a brave decision to not look at what this alternative may offer the school in the longer term.

If you are thinking about withdrawing from the TPS here are a few tips as you start pulling your plan together….

  • Make sure your rationale is sound, written in language that the teachers understand. Spending on an experienced pragmatic lawyer for support will be good value for money at this stage.
  • Educate, educate, educate – you cannot do enough in terms of investing on information about pensions and pension planning to help the governors, SLT and teachers understand pensions and retirement planning. This is where you will gain your champions who understand the DC alternative and the flexibility on offer and will influence others once the process commences.
  • As you will have seen in many articles the process should be led by your governing body, even better if they are visible, address the staff for announcements and questions and attend consultation meetings.
  • Think through the detail of your alternative offer carefully, you may wish to offer NI savings back to the staff if you offer salary sacrifice or a reduced employer contribution rate, but I would encourage you to build the detail into the commentary and then keep your alternative offer simple and easy to administrate post consultation. You may even want to work through some payslip samples and scenarios so you know how it will play out. The last thing you want when you come out of the other side of consultation is to be scratching your head trying to fathom payroll codes and calculations.
  • Listen and ensure that each individual gets the information they require; 1:1s, recorded webinars (maybe one general presentation to all) but other than that remember that they are busy with teaching during term time. Teachers are humans, there is fear in such a massive change and they will look for guidance and support from those they trust, so you need to take the time to ensure that they fully understand how alternative options will serve them. In term time their focus is very much on the teaching so use some INSED/INSET time to provide the education and support, and provide info that they can absorb over a holiday period.
  • Take your time, if you need to extend the consultation or amend the details based on reasonable feedback then adjust and keep going.

There is life after withdrawal from the TPS and, if you offer a flexible package, I think you will be astounded at how the teaching staff adapt to considering how that flexibility can serve them for their current and retired lifestyles. Good luck !

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Tracey Trotter bio