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Recruitment and retention

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School leaders are driven by an ambition to provide opportunities for young people to reach their full potential. To fulfil that ambition, teaching must attract and retain a high-quality, well-trained and properly rewarded workforce. 

Through our work with members, NAHT is documenting and communicating the unfolding recruitment and retention crisis taking place in our schools to policymakers at the highest levels. 

NAHT is campaigning to:

Ensure all schools can recruit and retain excellent teachers and leaders

  • Lobby for change and reform of key macro issues affecting recruitment and retention: pay, accountability, funding and workload and identify key actions to be taken to improve these
  • Press for the development of a range of flexible leadership and non-leadership pathways to support recruitment and retention, including new opportunities that will retain the experience and expertise of mid to late career leaders
  • Build on the opportunities offered by the Early Career Framework to press for similar support for new heads, deputies and assistants, and school business leaders
  • Maintain a watching brief on the impact of Brexit on teacher supply
  • Lobby the DfE for practical measures to address the workload of school leaders, including protection of strategic leadership time
  • Campaign for a staged real term, restorative pay award for teachers and school leaders
  • Develop a position on the role of CEOs and other posts outside the School Teachers’ Pay and Conditions Document (STPCD) including a position on which roles should have a requirement for Qualified Teacher Status (QTS)
  • Lobby for a review of the pay system, including the STPCD
  • Press government to maintain and enhance the teacher's pension scheme and/or Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS)
  • Support work to ensure the profession represents a diverse workforce, including those with protected characteristics
  • Support effective partnerships between school leaders and governors with clarity of roles and responsibilities across different school structures.

Create a safe working environment for school leaders and their staff

  • Lobby the DfE to take concrete steps to tackle verbal and physical abuse and aggression against school staff, including harassment online and through social media.  

Ensure professional recognition of school business leaders (SBLs)

  • Lobby the DfE for SBLs to be included within a new national framework of terms and conditions for school staff
  • Promote the professional standards framework for all SBLs
  • Raise the profile and understanding of the SBL role across the school sector, including with governors.  


Funding for non-teaching staff ill-health retirement costs in local authority schools and academies

Section 37(4) of the Education Act 2002 s that provides that "costs incurred by the local education authority in respect of any premature retirement of a member of the staff of a maintained school, shall be met from the school's budget share for one or more financial years, except in so far as the authority agrees with the governing body in writing (whether before or after the retirement occurs) that they shall not be so met."
In order to help schools across a locality manage the potential financial risk of this, many local authority schools have had the option to pay into the LGPS (via their employer contributions), which provided for a central contingency within the pension fund that could essentially pay for ill-health retirement costs as they arose. The amount that could be paid out was limited to the contributions that had been paid in and so the level of assurance was limited and effectively meant that schools who made a claim, while there was money available, were covered. If there was no money remaining in the central contingency pot, then the school had to meet the liability themselves. This practice is one we are sure many business managers will be aware of and will have made contingency provision for, if all costs were not to be covered.
It has come to the attention of NAHT that in a number of localities, the option to pay into this central contingency has been removed. While in many cases this change has been implemented for a number of years now, we believe that some schools may be unaware of this alteration particularly as this may have only made a very small difference to the employer contribution rate they have been paying and as this may not have been clearly communicated as part of any notification on changes to employer pension contribution rates. While this is ultimately a local issue, we have raised our concerns about this with the Department for Education. 

Can the Local Authority just remove this provision?

There is no requirement for Local Authorities to consult on the decision about the level of the employer contribution rate to the pension fund at the point it is reviewed; they are able to set contributions to ensure cover for pension liabilities over a reasonable period of time.
However, NAHT is clear that the removal of the requirement for schools to contribute to the ill-health retirement annual allowance (as part of the employer contribution rate) and the ability of schools to access this contingency fund should always be clearly communicated to all relevant schools when they were notified of any revised employer pension contribution rates.

What does this mean for my school?

The approach in every local authority will be different, and therefore we would encourage members in the first instance to confirm whether the employer contributions rates they are making also cover payment into a central contingency pot, to cover potential ill-health retirement costs for non-teaching staff.
If this contingency has been removed we would recommend speaking to the local authority about this, perhaps through Headteacher Forums, to discuss whether this can be reinstated.  If this isn't possible, schools may look to self-insure, to carry a contingency fund to cover this risk or explore with the local authority whether there is some other arrangement that can be put in place by local schools to mitigate risk.
Please note that these pension-related costs relate to non-teaching staff only. Where a member of teaching staff is granted ill-health retirement from the Teachers' Pension Scheme, there is no cost to the school.

What if I'm in an academy?

This can also impact you. The contribution rate you pay into the LGPS may also have had this contingency element built into it. Again, we recommend checking whether this is something applicable to your school so you have some mitigation against a charge arising or whether this is something you need to address.

What about insurance?

As mentioned above this may be an option. One provider, Hymans, has produced some information linked below and a short video in relation to this which will give you more background to this issue and an idea of the sort of insurance available if needed - see www.hymans.co.uk/services/ill-health-liability.
First published 05 February 2024