2020 Autumn Term 2

The know zone

  • Children first
    There have been innumerable challenges but could 2020 still turn out to be a transformational year in positive ways, wonders ASCL Primary Specialist Tiffnie Harris. More
  • One Day Isle
    ASCL's new Pensions Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski is on a mission to encourage members to review their pensions. More
  • Lifetime Learning Guarantee
    What is the government's new pledge for lifetime learning? ASCL Post-16 and Colleges Specialist Kevin Gilmartin explores the detail behind the headline announcement. More
  • Checks and balances
    ASCL Business Leadership Specialist Hayley Dunn highlights the learning points for academies from the Education and Skills Funding Agency (ESFA) assurance findings. More
  • Reconnecting
    How have children and young people settled back into school and college life and how are they coping with socialising in an era of social distancing? Here, ASCL members have their say More
  • Back to the future
    Headteacher Chris Hildrew is an advocate on ASCL Council for rural schools and single academies. Here, he takes us back to the future and shares his passion for teaching, Shakespeare, Taylor Swift and how Michael J. Fox inspired him to take up the guitar... and buy a skateboard. More
  • A different blend
    Students, their characters and their experiences are diverse. We shouldn't blame ourselves if they turn out to be something other than we had hoped or intended. More
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ASCL’s new Pensions Specialist Jacques Szemalikowski is on a mission to encourage members to review their pensions.

One Day Isle

During lockdown and thereafter, many of you will have had to cancel holidays. And although I’m sure those times will come again, I’m on a mission to cancel all your excursions to One Day Isle forever.

We all know One Day Isle and we’ve all been there, especially when it comes to our all-important pensions. 

On One Day Isle, one day I’ll… look at my pension. Except, and this is my point, one day I’ll… is rarely soon enough when it comes to your pension. 

That all too often leads to, “I woulda checked it earlier; I coulda taken out protection; I shoulda done it but I was too busy.” 

Especially the last point. As school and college leaders, you are always busy and that can come at the cost of your wellbeing – both general and financial. 

It leads to many of us being quarantined on One Day Isle. Quarantine – a word sadly now too familiar – derives from quarantena or ‘40 days’, a 14th-century Venetian term referring to the 40 days that ships were required to self-isolate in the Venetian Lagoon to prevent plague infecting La Serenissima. 

So, in the (approximately) 40 days left of this term, let’s make a commitment to end our own quarantena on One Day Isle. I urge you to go through this list of ten ‘woulda coulda shoulda’ things to do and take action to fill any gaps:

  1. Register with My Pension Online (MPO) on the Teachers’ Pensions website (www.teacherspensions.co.uk) or with your pension fund administrator with the Local Government Pension Scheme (LGPS) (www.lgpsmember.org). 
  2. Once registered, log on and access your latest pension benefit statement, which will give you an idea of the amount of pension you could receive during retirement. 
  3. It is important you check your service history very carefully on the online system. If you notice any mistakes, notify your employer or any previous employer and ask them to fix any errors. 
  4. If your pension is part of the career average revalued earnings (CARE) scheme, check that each year’s recorded salary, post-2015, is accurate. This builds up your pension year on year and again, speak to your employer straight away if you spot a discrepancy. (Read more about the type of pension you have in the Teachers’ Pensions factsheet in Understanding Which Member Type You Are https://tinyurl.com/y2peyvm9
  5. Put all your payslips and P60s somewhere safe. They will be the only evidence you have to assert corrections should you need to. Check your payslips carefully; it is your responsibility to check your payslip monthly to ensure your pre-tax pension contributions have been deducted correctly. 
  6. Should anything happen to you then your pension could provide valuable life insurance benefits for your loved ones. Complete the online expression of wish nomination form to be used if the worst happens.
  7. It might seem way off (or not!) but think about how much you will need when you retire to maintain your needs and lifestyle. There are options to increase your pension through increased (tax-free) contributions. The earlier you consider these options the more cost-effective they are likely to be.
  8. Think about the age at which you will want to retire. There are options if you want to retire before your Normal Pension Age (NPA). Again, you need to think about this sooner rather than later so that you can plan ahead. The earliest that retirement benefits can be paid is age 55 unless you are granted ill health benefits. (The government is planning to raise the minimum pension age at which people can access their private pension of 55 to 57 in 2028, and then keep it ten years below the State Pension Age.)
  9. Check the part of your statement on Lifetime Allowance and check you haven’t gone over the limit. If you have, there may be some options to mitigate, sooner rather than later. Find out more in this ASCL guidance paper on Pensions and Tax Liability: www.ascl.org.uk/pensionsandtax
  10. If you have had a pay rise in September, in addition to cost of living, you could put that extra money into your pension. You need to ensure you haven’t exceeded your Annual Allowance (see the guidance paper in point 9 for more on this).

The actions above should help you to keep on top of your pensions and prepare you for when you do retire. In addition, there are plenty of pension factsheets online at Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) www.teacherspensions.co.uk and LGPS www.lgpsmember.org 

Take professional financial advice

It makes sense to talk to a professional financial adviser before accessing your pension. Lighthouse Financial Advice Ltd, ASCL’s premier partner for personal financial advice, has been providing members with impartial, practical, affordable financial advice since 2007. n For further information visit www.lighthousegroup.plc.uk/affinity/ascl

Jacques Szemalikowski
ASCL Conditions of Employment
Specialist: Pensions