Your Views: Convenient omissions

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The Independent Online
Gillian Shephard's attempt to justify the Government's proposed changes to the Teachers' Pension Scheme (9 January) conveniently omits several important facts:

A large number of the 13,000 teachers who retired early last year went on ill health or redundancy grounds. The Government has chosen to slash teacher training recruitment targets as a result of its planned changes to the pension scheme. This highly damaging move directly contradicts the Government's own submission to the teachers' pay review body where the Government was expressly concerned over the age profile of the teaching profession.

The teachers' pension scheme is running at a deficit as a result of years of mismanagement by the Treasury. The Treasury has for over 70 years been more than happy to receive all the contributions from both employers and employees and to notionally invest these in government stock. Furthermore, it was the Government which introduced the concept of early retirement over 20 years ago and has actively encouraged teachers to leave before the age of 60.

Allegations of abuse and false claims based on ill health are offensive and wide of the mark. There are a number of other options which the Government could have examined with a view to remedying current problems affecting the teachers' pension scheme. Instead it has chosen the worst option in an attempt to mask the failure of its teacher recruitment policies and to gloss over its major share of the responsibility for the present state of the teachers' pension scheme.

David Hart,

General Secretary,

National Association of Head Teachers

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