Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Teachers' Pensions Strike

There may or may not be huge disruption in Britain's schools tomorrow, but the fundamental question remains the same:

How much should the taxpayer have to pay to fund teachers' pensions?

The answer is either:

a) The same as they do now, gradually increasing each year as we all live longer and more therefore claim more years of pension. This is fair because it is part of a teacher's remuneration for a job that has become far harder in recent years due to increased workload and ever increasing numbers of badly behaved pupils.

or

b) Less than they do now, but still gradually rising year on year as we live longer. This is fair because people in the private sector are not allowed pensions with such generous taxpayer funding and teachers' pay has increased substantially in recent years.

a) or b) What do you reckon?

30 comments:

cheeky chappy said...

A. Teachers deserve a good pension. It's well known that teachers who work to 65 pretty much drop dead after 2/3 years in retirement.

Also, it's hard enough for teachers to keep a class in line when they are young and full of energy, can you imagine how hard it's going to be for someone who is 68 (nearly 70) to handle a class of thuggish kids?

A good penison and long holidays are part of the perks for teachers and they are richly deserved. If you mess with those you just watch the numbers of good teachers leaving in droves and our prospective teachers no longer wanting to be nothing more than glorified babysitters.

Good luck to our teachers tomorrow.

Alex said...

The average life expectancy of a male teacher at age 65 is 85 years according to the TPS.

Anonymous said...

Can you point us to the specific source of that statistic Alex ( a link would be good)?
If true, working as a teacher until 65 adds 7 years onto their lives compared to the average male life expectency (78).

Or is that just bo***cks.

Anonymous said...

Years ago, I was looking into private pension provision; to his credit, the financial consultant I was talking to told me to stick with the TPS-- it was far more secure, and more generous than private sector pensions. The reason? According to him, male secondary teachers who worked to sixty-five tended to drop dead long before they could recoup their payments. Anecdotal evidence, but there you have it.

The problem for me is that, a couple years back, our pension contributions were increased; we were told soothingly that all was well, and that any potential shortfalls were fully addressed.

So was that a load of New Labour hooey, or is my pension being threatened by Michael "It's okay, I'm loaded and live in an exclusive part of London" Gove for no other reason than he figures balancing his budget is better done on the backs of those who can't offer him well-renumerated non-executive directorships?

Either way, attacking the future income of professionals is odd way of showing the 'respect' we are supposedly going to lose by striking tomorrow.

Dack said...

I can't wait for us all to be doddering about in the classroom, forgetting stuff and smelling of wee. I'm going to go in in my slippers and odd socks, and take my teeth out so they don't get gummed together by my Werther's Originals.

Don said...

I read in the paper that my old chemistry master died earlier this year at the ripe old age of 99, and I heard the other day that my history master is still alive and well at 96. They'd both retired at the age of 64, but it was around the time that the school (a boys' grammar) went comprehensive - which may have a considerable bearing on the matter!

Anonymous said...

Listening to the public sector bleating about their pensions is rather like listening to passengers on the Titanic complaining about the standard of their accommodation.
They may have an argument but they are about to be overtaken by events.

This country along with much of the rest of the West is about to be drowned in debt. The Ponzi scheme you call your pension will collapse along with everything else financial.

Edward Upton said...

Of course teachers need good compensation for their job, but pensions are a hidden cost for the taxpayer that needs to be unbundled.

Life expectancy continues to rise, and for men will be nearly 88 years on current trends by the end of this decade. So in effect we are funding 20 years of retirement from an average career of maybe 35 years.

Currently about £1 gets spent on pensions for every £3 spend on current salaries. If we don't change this, that will rise 50:50 over the next 25 years.

If we just paid teachers 20% more, and part of that went into a defined benefit scheme, I expect everyone would be a lot happier.

Plus there are frankly cheaper ways to support teachers with good teaching resources or less bureaucracy.

Mosher said...

Things must be different south of the border. Up in Scotland, teachers have been on a pay freeze for a couple of years and this is looking at being extended for 2+ more years. In effect, with inflation running rampant, this is a pay *cut* of 5% upwards.

In addition, pay rates for supply teaching are being slashed which could result in a pay decrease of around 50% (FIFTY) for some supply staff.

As Cheeky Chappy stated, this kind of thing might well save money - but it also forces some very good teachers out of the profession, and decreases the number of people interested in entering it.

The pension thing is pretty poor if you look at the figures. We're being asked for 15% more input for a much reduced output when we are finally allowed to retire. That's over a hundred pounds a month more out of our pay packet. And our pension scheme is mandatory. We can't opt out or use another provider in the way that private sector workers can.

Sure, the majority of people do it for the love of the job. But there comes a point where you have to be realistic and wonder if the stress, hours and so forth is worth it.

Anonymous said...

"15 % increase in input"

The contribution for TPS is increasing from 6.4 to 9.8% of income. That's over a 50% increase.

I could cope with that if we didn't have to wait till 68 to claim the pension.

The Defence Brief said...

I don't present to know much about public sector pensions, so I will confine myself to answering Frank's question.

I think I would have to pick option B. According to www.tda.gov.uk a newly qualified teacher in inner London will earn at least £27K and maybe up to £36K if they have relevant experience. Compare that to traditional fat cats like lawyers and I can tell you that in the same area of London a criminal law NQ solicitor will be lucky to earn £26K.

It seems to me that the teaching salary has reach parity with traditional high earning jobs in the private sector, although of course teachers enjoy significantly longer holidays than the 20-days most solicitors are awarded.

It's also worth remembering that people in the private sector would also like to have a decent pension pot when they retire, but we have to pay in to it from our own money. If the new pension arrangements aren't to teachers liking they could always join us and take out a private pension.

Lilyofthefield said...

Good teachers will leave in droves? To do what, exactly?

Anonymous said...

I value teachers but they dont realise how lucky they are and that taxpayers are funding them.
They work only half the year and get all the school holidays off but get paid ALL 52 weeks of the year.
They get paid much more than workers in the private sector
They have jobs for life as it is almost impossible to sack an underperforming teacher.
They have goldplated fat cat pensions worth between half a million to 1.5million pounds which is paid for by people like us paying tax who will get no pension.
They get 6 months full paid sick leave whenever they want it.
It is time for their nice little gravy train to end as it has for all of us normal working people

Anonymous said...

wanker

Alex said...

"Can you point us to the specific source of that statistic Alex ( a link would be good)?
If true, working as a teacher until 65 adds 7 years onto their lives compared to the average male life expectency (78).

Or is that just bo***cks." (post 3)

The clue is in the "according to the TPS". That would be the source. However, as a teacher I am a patient soul and will ignore the rude response to the provision of mere knowledge. So he is the full quote from the previous TPS review:

"Inaccurate and misleading coverage in the press and information presented to teachers by some financial advisers have caused concern to members of the TPS.

An individual’s life expectancy at birth is very different to their total life expectancy on reaching retirement age. Total life expectancy – defined as life expectancy plus current age - increases with age attained because those dying earlier in their lives are excluded from the group.  For example, the total life expectancy is 85 for male teachers at age 65, which increases slightly by the time retired teachers reach the age of 70 to 85½.  There are many factors that result in increased life expectancy, particular determinants being higher income and educational levels. Life expectancy of teachers is, in general, higher than the life expectancy of the general population. The figures are based on an analysis of data from the TPS, which includes all teachers irrespective of their age at retirement and includes an allowance for future improvements in mortality based on research from the actuarial profession. " - Teachers' Pension Scheme Modernisation Review 2004, still available on the DfE website.

Maturecheese said...

Teachers would do well to go on strike against the types of behaviour they have to put up with these days from their pupils. That would be worth supporting whereas striking for what is seen as self interest, doesn't really get the sympathy of those of us who were not fortunate enough to become a professional in the public sector.

Under the last Government, the public sector did very nicely thank you, lots of non jobs created, and it is time to rebalance the private and public sectors as far as wages and pensions go. There also needs to be a wake up call regarding productivity and performance within the public sector.

We all need to get real over the state of the nations finances and some leadership from Westminster wouldn't go amiss ie MP's could take a good look at their own pensions. (I won't hold my breath)

Mosher said...

@Maturecheese - Agree, agree and agree. And I'm not holding my breath either.

Oh, and someone mentioned "why don't teachers get a private pension?" Well, I don't know about England/Wales, but in Scotland we *can't* opt out of the state pension, nor can we decide how much we're putting in. I don't believe we're banned from taking out a private one *in addition* (allowing for the limits we're all under for such savings) but that just means even more of your monthly income being siphoned off.

Anonymous said...

Here in the colonies, I pay 11% of my salary into a mandatory pension. We used to be indexed against inflation, but as we're now paying out more than we're collecting that has been removed (but only for those who haven't retired — so my increased payments are going to pay retired folks a pension I won't get).

I add to a private pension as well, but that's only 1% (the limit allowed by law).

Anonymous said...

May I point out to the comments that refer to non-teachers as 'taxpayers' and also as 'normal working people.'

I know this might seem strange, but teachers are 'taxpayers' too and guess what, we are 'normal working people' as well!

jerym said...

(b)
and sort out and abolish the increased workloads and discipline the badly behaved pupils.
Its about time we realised that just chucking money at our problems does`nt work

Anonymous said...

Anonymous @ 2012

Not if they work for Protocol National they don't.

Anonymous said...

They work only half the year and get all the school holidays off but get paid ALL 52 weeks of the year.

Working ten months at 50-60 hours a week, I'm putting in more hours than I did working as an engineer. And according to my contract, I'm not paid for the summer — some of the money I earned in the winter is withheld until the summer so I get the same pay packet every month.

They get paid much more than workers in the private sector

I took a pay cut to enter this profession. I'm getting more than a bit fed up with hearing how greedy I am.

They have jobs for life as it is almost impossible to sack an underperforming teacher.

It's possible, but it requires a bit of documentation. Oddly enough, I've only worked for one headmaster who was willing to do his job and fill out the paperwork. True, it takes a bit of time, but that's part of the job they're being paid (more than me) to do.

As an engineer, I knew more than a few chaps who were coasting. Not hard to do in a large organization.

They have goldplated fat cat pensions worth between half a million to 1.5million pounds which is paid for by people like us paying tax who will get no pension.

My pension is paid for by me: biggest withholding from my income other than the income tax.

They get 6 months full paid sick leave whenever they want it.

Not with my contract. I can bank unused days (and do) but every absence during the school year comes out of them.

Anonymous said...

Jerym, there must be a reason why the unions didn't call for strikes against the ever increasing workloads and worsening behaviour in schools. To have done so would have shown that they were trying to protect their members from the stress that can potentially be caused by both. But then the unions are in bed with Labour, (under whom these problems flourished) aren't they?

jerym said...

Yes anonymous I agree that the unions were hand in glove with labour but that government is fast becoming an unpleasant distant memory and blaming previous parties for the current problem has to stop sometime.

Anonymous said...

@the two posters above.

None of the striking teaching unions are affiliated with the Labour Party.

So it looks like you're talking cobblers.

Anonymous said...

@Anon: calling something cobblers neither makes a coherent argument nor makes you right. 'Hand in glove' does not have to imply that donations are being made to Labour from the NUT. Take a look at the far left-leaning connections and backgrounds of NUT presidents, particularly Gill Goodswen, Christine Blower and Bill Greenshields! You must be very naive if you think it is mere coincidence that the unions have taken very little direct action during the Labour years. They have instead shamefully and repeatedly let down teachers and pupils by IGNORING the growing disruption in classrooms and increased workloads during this time, and the knock-on effects of this on state education in general.

Primary School Teacher said...

I think unless you are a teacher and work in schools today then you really shouldn't comment on something you know nothing about. It is currently the summer holidays - yet I was in school today, along with many colleagues preparing classrooms, planning, policies, paperwork etc ready for autumn. Teachers often work "holidays", despite ignorant people assuming that they work 'half the year' and as for hours working 8 til 6 five days a week and taking work home every night and at weekends goes above and beyond my 32 hour contract. Yet it is what every single teacher I know does. And as for six months fully paid sick - benefits like that don't exist. My daughter has just had open heart surgery and was in instensive care and I was able to take one week unpaid carers leave from work at a highly stressful time. If you don't teach then don't preach!

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Anonymous said...

Teachers work hard and indeed deserve a good pension. The fact is that even the revised pension is an excellent option. Far far better than most private sector stakeholder pensions. It guarantees an income at a 1/57 accrual rate (most final salary pensions were 1/60 or 1/80) It works on a career average earnings rather than a final salary basis which does mean the overall return is lower. We are all living longer which means that resources have to be used differently and compromises have to be made in both the private & public sector. Final salary pensions would be affordable if average life expectancy didn't keep rising. Would anyone be prepared to pop their clogs early in order to return to their old pension scheme? Unlikely.