Teachers in private schools are threatening to go on strike as an increase in contributions has led to many of these institutions leaving the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

It emerged in November that more than one in 10 private schools participating in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme are leaving the fund, with the majority opting for a defined contribution arrangement.

The retreat has been triggered by a rise in employer contributions in September, to 23.6 per cent of salary from 16.48 per cent.

The rise was triggered by the government’s move to change the rate used to calculate the liabilities of public sector schemes to reflect the Office for Budget Responsibility’s long-term growth forecasts.

In April, the Department for Education announced that it would support state schools and further education colleges with extra funding, while higher-education institutions such as universities and private schools would have to find their own funds to cover the hike in employer contribution rates.

John Richardson, national official for independent schools at the National Education Union, told Tes magazine that leaving the scheme would be a “massive detriment” to members.

He said: “There have been quite a few schools where there have been threats of balloting [for strike action] or indicative ballots.

“There will be many schools that can afford the increase [in teachers’ pension contributions] without batting an eyelid. It will be water off a duck’s back. But there are plenty of other smaller schools that are not rich by any stretch of the imagination.”

A DfE spokesperson said: “Independent schools have the option to withdraw from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and some schools have exercised that option. However, we would encourage independent schools to remain in the scheme so teachers can continue to move between the public and private sector.

“We are in discussions with independent schools to explore options that could allow those schools to keep as many of their teachers as possible in the scheme. The DfE will continue to engage with key stakeholders, including member and employer representatives.”

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