Letter: Fear that drives teachers to quit

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Sir: Public debate over the proposed changes in the teachers' superannuation scheme (article, 9 January; letters, 15 January) overlooks the most important aspect of the issue. Early retirement is in the gift of the employer, and employers allow it to save money.

Funding per student in higher education has fallen by 25 per cent over the past five years and is due to decline by another 15 per cent by the end of the decade. New universities spend between half and two-thirds of their income on staff. The only way they can achieve these levels of "efficiency gains" is by reducing staffing. The best way of doing this is by encouraging early retirement.

A similar situation applies in schools and further education colleges, where governing bodies confronted with reductions in income have to look to staffing as the only area where large-scale economies can be found. Since the introduction of local management, redeployment has ceased to be an option and early retirement is the only alternative to compulsory redundancy. There can be few in education who have not met an out-of-work teacher of mature years who cannot get another job because they are "too expensive".

The present rush to beat the March deadline is not due to staff seeking to join a gravy train. In many cases the over-fifties are asking themselves: "Should I retire in March on a pension, or stay on and risk being made redundant and having to survive until I am 60 with no pension and no prospect of another job?"

W A GOLDSPINK

Slough, Berkshire

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