Heads revolt over pensions

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The Independent Online
Headteachers yesterday announced a campaign which could bring teacher training to a standstill in protest at government proposals to cut back on early retirement.

Leaders of the National Association of Head Teachers said they were advising their members not to sign teacher training contracts after 1 September.

Ministers are proposing to cut back the number of teachers taking early retirement by changing the pension rules so that either schools or local authorities, not the Treasury, have to foot most of the bill. The aim is to reduce the costs of early retirement. Teaching unions estimate that 17,000 teachers are rushing to take early retirement before the new rules come into force in April.

David Hart, the NAHT's general secretary, said: "The consequences for schools of the Government's proposals are potentially devastating. Older teachers wishing to retire will be forced to remain in the profession ... ill-health and the cost of supply cover is likely to increase."

But Cheryl Gillan, a schools minister, said any disruption of teacher training would be irresponsible."We do not expect premature retirement to end ... there will still be plenty of scope for teachers to retire early for health reasons.

"However, only one in five teachers remains until the age of 60 and we simply do not believe that the remaining four out of five are incapable of teaching effectively until they are 60."

t Two teachers who took early retirement at Christmas have been told to return to work this term amid fears their departure falls foul of the new rules.

The two, both in their fifties, have been summoned back to Wright Robinson High School, in Gorton, Manchester only weeks after accepting leaving presents and farewells from pupils and staff.