Heads in Meeting with MPs over Rules; Academy Pension Surcharge

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Byline: Adrian Pearson Regional Affairs Correspondent ? 0191 201 6286 ? adrian.pearson@ncjmedia.co.uk

HEADTEACHERS and MPs have met with ministers to discuss "punitive" pension rules preventing schools converting to academies.

School governors from Berwick down to Blyth joined MPs Guy Opperman and Sir Alan Beith to persuade the Government to intervene and prevent council chiefs hitting schools wishing to be academies with new higher pension payments.

The Journal revealed earlier this year that council bosses were placing 20% pensions surcharge on non-teaching staff when schools convert, saying that academies' funding is not secure enough.

That cash-grab meant that the Berwick Academy was forced to take an extra PS90,000 from money which should have gone on children's education.

Meadowdale Academy has also been handed punishing pensions surcharges, with the Bedlington school losing PS66,000 a year taken from teaching budgets.

Other schools have said they simply could not afford to convert to academies - schools handed more freedom to teach in the way they see fit - because of the council's rules.

Now those heads have met with Liberal Democrat education minister David Laws at a meeting arranged by Mr Opperman.

The Hexham Tory said: "It is not acceptable for the council officers to prevent schools from securing their future by treating an academy less favourably when compared to a maintained school. …