Sunday, 7 November 2010

£131 million subsidy for pensions

During the 1980s 'public' schools attempted to rebrand themselves as 'independent' schools. They wanted to move away from those old traditions of boys beating boys, fagging and rampant snobbery. They also tried to promote the idea that parents were making a choice about being 'independent' from state control.

The fact is that the state pays for the training of teachers and public schools enjoy other subsidies through charitable status. Last week the Green Party managed to winkle out information about another whopping subsidy. Teachers in public and state schools are eligible to join the Teachers' Pension Scheme. Teachers contribute 6.4% of their salary and their employer 14.1% of their salary. Because the scheme runs at a loss a private sector employer would need to contribute 20% to match the state scheme.

The Green Party calculates that the 5.9% difference for the 62,349 teachers in public schools (average salary £35,000) is equivalent to a subsidy of £131 million. I'll just repeat that £131 million.

Private sector companies have their own pension schemes which are not underwritten by the government and are dependent on the fortunes of the stock market.

I know it might be distressing in these rather straightened times, but I would humbly and respectfully suggest that teachers in public schools should be thrown out of the Teachers' Pension Scheme and become a bit more, shall we say, 'independent'. Is it fair that someone on low wages should be subsidising the pension of the 1,639 teachers at the top public schools like Eton, Harrow and St Paul's? I did try and find the appropriate Latin phrase but failed, I think it's known as 'taking the piss'.

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