Working overtime?

18 March 2016

pension.jpgPension rule changes mean a later retirement for more teachers, so start planning for it now, warns Stephen Casey.

It is time to prepare for a rise in the age of retirement. The issue of teachers working longer is not one that can be put aside for some future date when working longer affects the majority of teachers. It is a reality now, as there are members of the post-2007 scheme who have a retirement age of 65, rather than 60.

Some of these are in this version of the scheme as a result of breaks in service or because they joined the profession as mature entrants and they will be working beyond 60 now or in the near future. Furthermore, while many teachers aim to retire early or at 60, some classroom teachers are increasingly working longer. The average age for a pension taken by classroom teachers without actuarial reduction is 62.

Some of the suggested means of mitigating the impact of working longer have structural and financial implications that may require a planning and implementation period.

There is not yet a great amount of evidence about the impact of teachers working longer but researchers appointed by the Department for Education have investigated a wide range of sources and unions have carried out member surveys. There are some consistent themes emerging that require consideration.

Preparing oneself for working longer

It is preferable to plan for working past current retirement ages rather than assume it can be managed when the time comes. Sensible preparation includes:

  • Give one’s health and well-being sufficient priority. Ill health is a growing concern for school and college leaders with an upward trend in ill-health retirement applications.

  • Take a proactive approach to managing one’s finances.

  • Become aware of options provided by the pension scheme, including those to accrue additional pension and those to retire early.

  • Become aware of options provided by the high-level transferable skills acquired in school and college leadership. There is evidence that changing the nature of one’s work, in terms of time worked and the nature of the work, make working longer more sustainable.

Managing an ageing workforce

As school and college leaders you will become responsible for managing an  ageing workforce. This should not be allowed to become a divisive issue and should be a whole-staff matter. Middle leaders will have a significant role to play as they manage their teams on a daily basis.

Some matters to consider are:

  • l Be sensitive to the options you have compared with those open to some teachers. Leadership salaries generate pensions that may enable earlier retirement and one’s networks, experiences and skills open the possibility of alternative directions.

  • Be aware of equality issues. Older teachers are more likely to be subject to ill health and capability procedures, something the teacher unions are becoming increasingly concerned about. Research suggests that pupils of older teachers achieve no less than those taught by other age groups.

  • Well-being appears to be strongly linked to personal autonomy. Individuals’ sense of –well-being declines the further down they are in the profession’s hierarchy.

  • Consider some of the strategies being proposed to support teachers working longer:

  • reduced responsibilities

  • reduced workload

  • internal redeployment

  • phased retirements

  • return to work after taking a pension

  • bespoke continuing professional development (CPD) for older teachers

  • provide knowledge and guidance on the pension scheme and the flexibilities available

  • review the quality and use of occupational health provision and the opportunities for earlier interventions to support teachers working longer

ASCL is actively participating in Working Longer, a project that the DfE has funded to assess the possible impact of teachers having to work longer and the management issues that this will bring. We will, of course, continue to represent the interests and concerns of our members to the relevant bodies.

Financial Planning for Retirement Seminar
6 May in Leicester
This seminar, led by Stephen Casey, is ideal for those who wish to plan for a prosperous future in retirement or to support colleagues in  school with their retirement planning. For more details or to book a place, see online:

ASCL Guidance: Pensions and Tax Liability
Stephen has prepared a guidance paper to help members check whether they have exceeded their annual pension allowance following recent government changes to pensions and the lifetime allowance. To avoid an unexpected bill from HMRC it is important that your individual circumstances are checked and professional advice taken if you believe you are affected. See the guidance paper at

Stephen Casey is ASCL Pensions Specialist