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NAHT life members' newsletter - autumn 2020

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It is once again my pleasure to welcome you to another edition of the Life members’ newsletter. 

I would firstly like to place on record my appreciation for those who have contributed items for this edition. Also, it would be fair to say that without the sterling work behind the scenes by Mike Wilson from NAHT North West, these newsletters would not be so informative. 

Like you all, I had hoped that when we published a new edition, there might be progress on the covid-19 situation. Instead, much of the country is working its way through a second national lockdown with soaring infection and death rates.

On a positive note, the developments in finding a vaccine are encouraging. But having experienced first-hand the impacts of covid-19, I want to stress the need for all Life members to stay safe and take every precaution. 

2021 has got to be a better time where, hopefully, we can see a return to ‘normality’. The work that serving colleagues are doing in schools is incredible. School leadership has always been a challenging and demanding role, but these times have greatly added to the stress of the position. School leaders are heroes, and society should recognise them as such. 

Best wishes 

John Killeen
Life members’ committee chair

Click on the links below to read more on these topics 


Meet NAHT Life members’ committee vice-chair Nigel Paton

Since joining NAHT some 35 years ago, I have always taken an active part in its work. In my early days, I served on the national deputy heads’ committee. Through various roles on executive committees of different branches and regions, I have sought to keep abreast of current issues affecting our members in schools, and I have enjoyed being able to support colleagues in different ways - whether at local education authority meetings or school forums - or resolving issues with governing bodies. 


This was particularly true in my role as a branch secretary within Hampshire and Dorset and as a member of the south-central regional committee for 15 years. 


Since becoming a Life member, I have remained active, initially as branch secretary in Poole, and then as regional secretary for the south-west region. For many years, I have coordinated arrangements for both regional and national conferences. And for the past five years, I have been regional treasurer as well as continuing to represent the south-west region on the Life members’ committee. Having been a member of the original Life members’ working group set up in 1998, it’s a privilege to still serve the needs of Life members at branch, regional and national levels. Particularly as we are at the start of a new era: now having sector council status, which means we have a stronger voice on the national executive (more about this below). 

As vice-chair, I will continue to promote the needs and wishes of Life members presently within the association and actively encourage members leaving their posts to maintain links with NAHT by continuing as Life members. 

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Annual Conference resolutions and next steps

It is very clear that when managing a highly infectious virus, the risk/benefit equation of gathering large numbers of people physically together in a single space indoors doesn’t add up, unless (like in the classroom setting) it is deemed absolutely vital.

This was very much the dilemma that faced NAHT last month when it came to rescheduling its already delayed annual general meeting (AGM) and Annual Conference, which if it were a normal year, would have been held in Cardiff in May.

The result was NAHT breaking new ground by developing and delivering the very first virtual AGM and Annual Conference in its 123-year history.

Of particular importance to our committee was the vote in the AGM on sector council status for Life members. Following an impassioned speech by NAHT vice president Tim Bowen, members voted in favour of the motion (more than 99%+).

This is fantastic news, and it is the culmination of more than two years of work by the Life members’ committee. This means that Life members are now fully recognised as being on an equal footing with other sectors of the association. Elections will take place in 2021 for the Life member national executive committee. We shall then be able to raise Life members’ issues directly with the national executive and have the voice of more than 14,000 Life members heard on matters that pertain to them. 

NAHT regions will also be electing the 12 sector council members to serve on the new council.

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Follow these simple steps to register for the new and improved NAHT Extras 






  1. Visit https://nahtextras.hapibenefits.com on any computer, laptop, tablet or smartphone 
  2. Click on the 'I'm new - get started' link to create your password and set up account access. You only need to do this once
  3. Alternatively, you can follow the steps in the activation email, which was sent to your registered email address on Thursday 10 September 2020 


You can access your NAHT Extras discounts and deals via the Hapi app. Download the free app available now on iOS and Android.

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Your health and well-being 


Age UK's advice line during the coronavirus crisis 


Age UK's free, confidential advice line (call 0800 678 1602) is open from 8am to 7pm, 365 days a year. 


The team at Age UK are available to deal with your coronavirus queries, such as how to get help with shopping or support someone more vulnerable at this time. The team can also answer your questions on health and social care as well as benefit entitlements. 


Find out more about Age UK’s service during the pandemic. 


Free information and advice from Age UK 


Click on the links below to see the useful free advice and guidance provided by Age UK on these topics. 


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Pensions news  

NAHT responds to proposals to rectify the age discrimination arising from the 2015 changes to public sector pension schemes

The government has launched two consultations aimed at removing age discrimination from transitional provisions to public sector pension schemes, in the wake of a court judgement from 2018. 

HM Treasury and the Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHLCG) have opened separate consultations on amending transitional protection rules for unfunded public service pension schemes and the local government pension scheme respectively. 

Broadly similar consultations have also been issued for Northern Ireland, and you can find these here alongside helpful explanatory documents. 

The proposals follow court cases brought by judges and firefighters in the wake of changes in 2015 when members of the UK's public sector pension schemes were compulsorily transferred to less generous new schemes in 2015. However, scheme members within 10 years of retirement age were permitted to remain on the previous schemes. 

In December 2018, the Court of Appeal (CoA) ruled that the Ministry of Justice had discriminated against younger judges on the grounds of age, and it found in favour of a group of firefighters on the same issue. The court said the government must remedy the discrimination. 

This consultation sets out the government's proposals for addressing this discrimination along with the government's plans for the future of the schemes. 

Consultation proposals 

Depending on a person's circumstances, some scheme members may be better off in the reformed schemes rather than the legacy schemes. Therefore, the government has decided it would not be fair to move everyone back into the legacy schemes, even though this is reported to be sufficient to remove the unlawful discrimination identified. 

The government is proposing to provide members with the option to choose between receiving legacy or reformed scheme benefits in respect of their service during the period between 1 April 2015 and 31 March 2022 (known as the 'remedy period'). 

The consultation seeks views on that proposal and especially on which of two possible approaches should be taken to making this choice, and how each of these approaches might work. The two possible approaches are as follows: 

  1. An immediate choice – here members would make this decision in a year or two after the point of implementation in 2022 (which might be many years ahead of their retirement, and at a time when there is still some uncertainty over the precise benefits that would accrue to them in the alternative schemes)
  2. A deferred choice underpin (DCU) – here a decision would be deferred until the point at which a member retires (or when they take their pension benefits). 

There are pros and cons to each option, with different impacts on different members.

Our response 

NAHT has considered the proposals in the consultation for our members and has submitted a response to each of them 

Ahead of the consultation launch, NAHT has been working with the Department for Education, Treasury and Teachers' Pension Scheme England and Wales and the Northern Ireland Teachers’ Pension Scheme to ensure we safeguard members’ interests. 

The consultation is now closed and being considered by the government.  

However, please note that the law is now clear, and as such, the discrimination in the Teachers' Pension Scheme will have to be remedied; this consultation looks at the detail of how this will be achieved.       

Further guidance

The Teachers' Pensions England and Wales website has some additional useful information related to this issue: 

      Transitional protection arrangement consultation exercise | 07 | 2020 (public news section)

      Transitional protection arrangement consultation exercise | 07 | 2020 (employers news section) 

Teachers’ Pension Scheme England and Wales survivor benefits 

Teachers’ Pensions has confirmed the following: 

“Following a recent claim brought against the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, the Department for Education has accepted that there is direct sexual orientation discrimination within the Teachers’ Pension Scheme rules, as the benefits payable to a surviving male spouse or civil partner of a female scheme member may be less than would be payable if that member was in a same-sex marriage or civil partnership. This could affect female members who had pensionable service prior to April 1988. 

“Scheme rules will be changed to provide that the male spouse or civil partner of a female member is treated in the same way as a same-sex spouse or civil partner - survivor benefits will be calculated using service from 1 April 1972, or 6 April 1978 if the marriage or civil partnership took place after the last day of pensionable service. This will apply from 5 December 2005, the date that same-sex civil partnerships were introduced. 

“Teachers’ Pensions will work in conjunction with the Department for Education to implement this change to the scheme and will provide further details on our approach and timescales in due course. 

“Teachers’ Pensions will be taking reasonable steps to identify the cases involved and will contact those affected following necessary system changes that will need to be implemented.” 

This is great news for anyone impacted by this. The Teachers’ Pension Scheme England and Wales is currently training a team of staff to work through its records to locate the survivors’ pensions in payment that may need to be recalculated. This will take some time because the process will involve manual recalculations, and although we have asked for an indication of the timing for revisiting these pensions, we haven’t received a response yet. We don’t expect this to be quick given the nature of the work involved, but we will continue to press the Department for Education and Teachers’ Pensions on this point.  

But it is very clear that you do not have to take any action to receive these backdated benefits if you are entitled to them; it will just take some time to administer. However, where deaths take place from now on, the Teachers’ Pension Scheme England and Wales will immediately calculate the benefits on the non-discriminatory basis. So, any future survivor pensions payable should be paid on the correct basis going forwards. 

The Teachers’ Pension Scheme England and Wales has some additional information on its website in the form of FAQs, which you can find here.

Returning to teaching as part of the government's catch-up scheme 

If you’re a retired teacher who took up a role as part of the national tutoring programme, we recommend reading the advice from Teachers’ Pensions to see if your pension could be impacted. Teachers’ Pensions has confirmed that it’s unlikely you’ll have your teacher’s pension abated as employment as a tutor or academic mentor wouldn’t be eligible employment for these purposes. Still, given the importance of this issue, we strongly recommend reading the advice, and if you have any doubts, contact the Teachers’ Pension Scheme to discuss this on 0345 606 6166. 

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Members’ stories

Crossing the Rubicon: a long view from retirement by NAHT Life member Marion Lee                                                                             

“Don’t you miss it?” After nine years of retirement, you might think people would stop asking me that. There are two points really. Firstly, I do not miss being a head teacher at all, but I am incredibly proud of what we achieved while I was a head teacher. I have fantastic memories of the people, the triumphs, the tragedies and the exhaustion.  

Secondly, it never ceases to amaze me that when I mention I was a head teacher, the professional cloak shrouds you: an expectation that you will take charge or be, well basically, bossy.                                                                                                                                                               

The last working year was bizarre: making succession plans but also knowing that it will all inevitably change. Ensuring that structures were in place to bridge gaps but also knowing I could not be there to watch any developments. Our first grandson was born in the autumn term, which provided some distraction.      

In 2011, I retired from leadership in a London primary school on the same day as my husband, a civil servant. Retiring together proved to be an excellent plan. Some couples seem to find the balance - where one of them is retired, and the other is still working - builds resentment. John and I were equally paced at getting to learn about this new freedom. We plunged headlong into a completely new set of experiences together.                                                                             

In September, we left England for six months to travel around Australia and New Zealand, booking as we travelled. We set up a blog, bought an iPad and had a host of amazing times. Typified by sitting under trees on a sandy beach one evening, a bottle of wine and using the new iPad to FaceTime family to gloat!    

Most importantly, though, we had to learn to live together 24/7 with no external pressures and goals. This extended holiday distracted us from the routine and helped us to spend time getting to know each other again. Let’s face it; you don’t spend a lot of quality family time when you lead school.                                               

As soon as we got back to England, we decided to sell our London home and try out village life. We couldn’t believe how quickly the house sold; almost before we had got our heads around what we were doing. Rather than buying immediately, we rented in Dorset for six months. It gave us a chance to find out how village life works, without one of the largest shopping centres and a bustle of restaurants on your doorstep.                                                                                                                      

I immediately realised I would need a complete change of clothing. Gone were all heels, skirts and dresses. Waterproof footwear, a Barber coat and a pair of jeans were the order of the day. We must have viewed about 40 houses all around Dorset, learning the countryside, which was as foreign as New Zealand had been. 

It didn’t take long to find a perfect house that only needed total re-wiring, plumbing, a kitchen makeover par excellence - actually every room needed work. The renovation was so massive that we moved out again while the project ran. We were project managers and decorators.      

It was incredible choosing everything from window furniture to paint finishes. Previously, home improvements had to be squeezed around work and done piecemeal, often resulting in a room completed in 80s style and the next in 90s. It took us a year, but the result was fantastic.  

Village life suited us well. Even the workmen were more reliable. Shopkeepers not only talk with you but also recommend other places to buy things. The renovation taught John and me how to work together. We learned so much about our strengths and challenges. Head teachers never talk about weakness!                                                               
Our new village has a brilliant mix of retired professionals and local families. There is a great arts scene, loads of local activities and wonderful walks. In the last two years, we are reaping the benefits of our projects. The pace of our life is beginning to settle.                                                                                                

Covid-19 has certainly slowed us down quite a bit. We have been incredibly lucky with our health. One of the things I had been concerned about, on retirement, was the reports of heads retiring and falling ill within a year.  

It implied that the sudden shock from the release of stress had triggered something, in the same way that NQTs lose their voice by the first half-term. I believe that the torrent of new experiences eased us over that hurdle, but most importantly, it allowed us to drop that professional cloak and become ourselves.                                                                       
No matter how others still react to the head teacher tag, I know I have moved on from it, but that will never take from me the knowledge of my achievements with a brilliant team in my school. 

The retired headmaster by NAHT Life member William P Kennerley 

3rd September,
The day that war broke out.
3rd September,
The date that schools return
From holiday.
This September 3rd
I am on a beautiful beach
In Cornwall, in the soft September sun.
Yes, but not too old.
No longer enlisted to fight
The new term.
Free from government barrages of initiatives
From Ofsted’s salvos,
Politically correct snipers,
Legal booby traps
And the constant carpet bombing
By paperwork.
No more forced marches towards Sats
Or worries about keeping up moral
Within the ranks.
No more strategy meetings
Or planning campaigns ...
A few scars from old wounds
But still standing ...
On a beautiful beach
In Cornwall, in the soft September sun.

What is your retirement story or journey so far? Send your article to michael.wilson@nahtofficials.org.uk.       

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Time to remember 


If you wish to record the sad passing of an NAHT member in the Life members’ newsletter, email michael.wilson@nahtofficials.org.uk.

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Published 26 November 2020
First published 26 November 2020