Teachers at Tring school to strike over pension scheme

School governors have offered an alternative scheme for staff to consider and adopt

Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 12:54 pm
Updated Tuesday, 22nd June 2021, 5:10 pm

Some teachers at Tring Park School for Performing Arts will be taking part in five days of strike action over the next few weeks, starting tomorrow (June 23) over the dispute with the Governing Body over proposals to leave the Teacher’s Pension Scheme (TPS).

There will be morning pickets at the school site each morning of the strike days and the strikes are scheduled for Wednesday, June 23, Wednesday, June 30, Tuesday, July 6, Wednesday, July 7, and Thursday, July 8.

Government changes to the future funding of the TPS has resulted in Tring Park School for the Performing Arts reviewing its membership of the Scheme.

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School Governors made a detailed assessment of the TPS increased contributions rate and modelled the impact on the school’s operating costs and found the current and projected increases unsustainable.

Increased pension overheads will have a significant impact on the school’s annual running costs. With further substantial rises predicted, governors have offered an alternative scheme for staff to consider and adopt.

There has been strong opposition to the plans and demands for the governors to negotiate with Unions (NEU and NASUWT), but Despite solid and productive talks, the trade unions notified the school of their intention to call for five days of strike action.

An internal consultation process has been underway since April 30, 2021.

Roughly half of Tring Park teachers are members of these trades unions.

The school remains committed to open and constructive dialogue with staff representatives and wants to reassure all parents and carers that it will take every effort to ensure their children’s education and wellbeing is not disrupted during the strike period.

NEU Regional Secretary Paul McLaughlin: “Members do not want to be forced into a position of having to strike.

"Sadly, the governors have repeatedly sought to ignore the views of staff, our members, and have made it clear they do not want to negotiate a settlement to the dispute.

"Unilaterally taking teachers out of the valuable Teachers’ Pension Scheme onto what we believe is an inferior scheme, is not acceptable and members are standing up for their rights."

This year staff have been put under enormous pressure, having to teach both live and remotely, often offering a blend of both.

They have also had to assess, mark and grade all the GCSE and A-Level’s students’ work after exams were cancelled in January. The timing of this consultation has felt like a blow to the teachers’ work and effort of delivering the best education experience possible in spite of the pandemic.

Teachers at Tring Park feel that the consultation process has been rushed through with no consideration of the incredible and exceptional demands on teachers’ workload this year.

Shaun Howard from the NEU Independent Schools Officer Hertfordshire District said: “It really is a momentous occasion when independent school staff take strike action, and it is testament to the severity of the issue.

“Our hard-working members are committed to the success of Tring Park pupils and the future of Tring Park. They feel that they have no alternative but to strike, in order to protect the future of the school as well as their own families.

“NEU members desperately wish to resolve the matter amicably but believe that changes in the TPS would be a significant blow in the school’s ability to attract and retain quality teaching staff."

The Chair of Governors at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, said: “We very much regret the action taken by the unions and we will do everything to minimise disruption to the pupils.

"We are having ongoing constructive dialogue with staff during the consultation process and we feel we have offered a competitive alternative pension scheme.

"We understand that some teachers are worried about the change, so we have offered to continue the school’s employer contributions into the TPS for a further 14 months for those that wish.

"The increased employer contributions to the Teachers Pension Scheme have made it financially unsustainable for Tring Park School in common with many other independent schools."