Private school teachers strike over pensions

  • 25th March 2024

Teachers at Abbey Gate College are going on strike tomorrow following governors’ plans to take them out of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), Cheshire Live has reported.

Abbey Gate College is an independent school in Saighton Grange, Chester teaching pupils aged four to 18.

Further strike action is planned for 16-17 April and 23-25 April.

The National Education Union (NEU) said the school plans to “fire all of its teachers and rehire them the next day on worse terms and conditions”.

Greg Foster, district secretary of Cheshire West and Chester NEU, said: “While our meetings with the management have been amicable, members tell me that their tactics on site have been very different. No one wants to take strike action, for our members this is a last resort. We are talking to the NASUWT about coordinating further days of action.

“Parents opting to go private expect to pay for their children’s education; Abbey Gate College seems to think their teachers should be paying for it too.”

In a statement Abbey Gate College said: “The school’s Governors greatly appreciate and value our dedicated teaching staff, who provide an excellent education and nurturing environment for all children at Abbey Gate College. The school is thriving as a result of our staff’s efforts, and we have never taken this for granted.

“The Government recently announced an additional 21% increase in the cost to all schools of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, following a 43% rise in costs in 2019. Unlike State schools, these increases are not funded by the Government for independent schools and are creating significant pressure across the sector. As a result, the Governors commenced consultation in October for the school to enrol staff in alternative, appropriately funded pension arrangements.”

Abbey Gate College’s chair of governors Andrew Grime said: “Following all due guidance, a period of authentic consultation and engagement with our teaching staff commenced. The governing body clearly set out to our staff the financial consequences of remaining in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, with a view to reaching agreement before any final decision is made.

“We continue to uphold the legal rights of our staff, and we fully respect our staff’s choice to obtain advice as a member of a trade union. We also appreciate the support and understanding of our families and the wider community.”

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