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Check your pension and the return to the unknown

4 August 2020

1. Let’s talk about pensions

A really important part of your monthly pay packet goes into your pension for retirement – are you sure your contributions are correct? Laura discovered on a twitter chat that some of you don’t know how your pension works. A huge 38% of you have NEVER checked your pension statement is correct. Admittedly, those of you who are closer to retirement are better at checking your statements, but you need to do it now – imagine trying to correct an error in your employment records twenty years after it happened!

It is easy to assume that your school, MAT or local authority is great at counting how many months you have worked for them, but around two-fifths of those teachers who have checked their statements have found inaccuracies.

2. Is it safe to step back into classrooms?

It is amazing to run a survey that compiles results within 24 hours, but in these turbulent times even a weekly blog can quickly start feeling out of date. Last Thursday the majority of you felt it was safe for you to return to school in September – though 36% of those over 50 weren’t sure. However, since then the news on infection rates hasn’t felt very positive.

Primary teachers are a little happier than others – just 23% feel unsafe versus 31% of secondary teachers. We actually expected this gap to be larger given that bubbles are more likely to remain isolated and evidence on transmission in younger children seems more positive.

3. Educating in big bubbles

Of course, most primary teachers have at least already spent June and July teaching classes and so are likely better able to imagine how the September arrangements will work. 72% of primary teachers feel the government guidelines can be implemented in their school, versus 57% of secondary teachers.

There is likely to be more consistency of implementation within the primary sector – exactly how you maintain year group bubbles in a secondary school will depend on the physical configuration of your space and whether you choose to drop parts of the curriculum.

The good news is that the headteachers who have been responsible for implementing government guidance are far more confident that the guidelines are achievable – just 14% of heads feel that they are not.

4. Do you know what you are returning to?

We learned last week that primary teachers are the most happy to be returning to full-time face-to-face teaching. However, they know far less about the faces they’ll be teaching than in normal years. In a normal year, almost all primary teachers get to see their new class before the end of term (just 6% don’t). This year, over three-quarters of primary class teachers have not been able to meet their new classes.

Those working in schools serving lower-income communities feel most worried that their teaching will have to accommodate substantial gaps in learning during lockdown.

5. Time for tips…