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The Weekly paper of the New Communist Party of Britain

Posh school’s pensions

by New Worker correspondent

ONE MATTER on the agenda of the National Education Union (NEU)’s online Annual Conference was on behalf of teachers working in the independent sector – where teachers are not as well off as the rich children they teach.

One major issue is the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), which the NEU holds should be open to all teachers although at present some private schools are seeking to withdraw from it, a move which will greatly reduce teachers’ pensions.

Joint General Secretary, Kevin Courtney, said the TPS “is a fundamental part of a teacher’s remuneration. It is integral to the profession. We believe that all teachers should have the right to be in the scheme. The NEU will vigorously support our members’ defence of their right to the TPS.”

He also pointed out that private schools are increasing using “fire and rehire” in “an attempt to steam-roller contractual change”.

He noted that: “Sadly, on many occasions, NEU members have been left with little option than to strike to protect their contractual rights. Striking is absolutely the last resort. It is not something that our members want to do.”

Courtney also observed that: “Teachers in the independent sector worked tirelessly under extremely difficult circumstances during the COVID lockdown. A swingeing cut to their pension is no way to repay them. We call on employers to pause and consider the big picture.”

He noted that in the private sector NEU members had a won a battle at Mall School in the leafy London Borough of Richmond. There, the threat of strike action resulted in bosses agreeing to halt any discussion on leaving the TPS for the time being. A similar outcome happened at Wycliffe College and prep school in Gloucestershire, which has been settled by way of compromise.

At the Jesuit Stonyhurst College in Lancashire, teachers have wisely put their faith in their union and have voted for six days of strike action over this issue this month.

In north Nottinghamshire teachers at Worksop College and Ranby House have voted for several days of strike action from 20th April.

The boarding school claimed it could not meet the mandatory increase of the TPS announced in 2019 because of the pandemic.

The NEU claim the school has not properly consulted staff and has not considered how these changes could endanger attracting teachers to the school.

Nick Raine, an NEU Regional Officer, said: “Worksop College is a respected and trusted school with excellent outcomes for its pupils.”

He added that: “The huge cuts to teachers’ pensions will sadly force many teachers to consider their future and moving elsewhere. Our members are fighting for the future of the school.

“Staff are angry that the College will not meet with their union or listen to their concerns about the direction of the College. That Worksop College has forced our members to take this step demonstrates that they don’t care for staff and are not being honest with parents as to the future of the school.”

The National Association of Schoolmasters–Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) is also worried about TPS on the grounds that Government plans to remedy unlawful discrimination in the Scheme do not go far enough to address age discrimination and will disproportionately hit younger teachers.

General Secretary Patrick Roach said: “The planned remedy completely fails to rectify the issue of age discrimination in the TPS and the NASUWT will be continuing to campaign for alternative measures to be put in place which provide teachers with an entitlement to be in the final salary scheme, with a lower pension age, for the whole of their career.

“Furthermore, it is unacceptable that the Government is proposing that teachers should meet the cost of proposals that it is implementing as a result of a legal case which it lost.”