Pensions dispute sees private schools’ teachers go on strike

More than 50 teachers at Croydon High School are going on strike tomorrow in the first of six days of planned industrial action to defend their pensions.

Selsdon strikes: teachers at Croydon High have agreed to six days of action

Croydon High, the fee-paying girls’ prep to sixth form school in Selsdon, is one of 23 independents across England and Wales in the Girls’ Day School Trust – GDST – where the National Education Union has called for the series of one-day strikes after 95per cent of affected union members voted in favour of action.

“This is an unprecedented and overwhelming ‘yes’ vote for action,” a NEU spokesperson told Inside Croydon. It will be the first teachers’ strike in the Trust’s 149-year history.

Parents sending their daughters to Croydon High can pay up to £17,802 per year in fees. There are seven other GDST schools in south London, including Sutton High, Sydenham, and Streatham High and Clapham Common. All will be subject to similar strike action.

The dispute has arisen because the Girls’ Day School Trust proposes to remove its teaching staff from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme, a nationally-run scheme. If it goes ahead, teachers say that they will be at least 20per cent worse off on average in terms of the annual amount they receive in pension payments, despite having contributed to the fund throughout their working careers.

The NEU says that the Trust – whose finances appear to be in robust health according to public records – has been unable to show any financial imperative for this decision.

“The Girls’ Day School Trust has no justification in its plan to slash the pensions of its teaching staff,” said Joe Flynn, the secretary of Croydon district of the National Education Union.

“This will be a disaster for staff, for future recruitment and for pupils.

“Teachers always take strike action with a heavy heart, which is why this extraordinary mandate should give the Trust pause. Members are angry and determined to defend what is rightfully theirs. These are committed and hard-working staff who have been pushed to the point of taking action, the like of which the Girls’ Day School Trust has never seen. Teachers’ strength of feeling is unwavering.

“Be in no doubt that this is an attack on members’ terms and conditions of employment.

“Members will not be waiting for the Trust’s final decision in late February. That will be too late. Strike action on February 10 will send a clear message to parents and the wider public that the GDST is taking the wrong path.

“We call on the council of the Girls’ Day School Trust to unconditionally withdraw the proposal to leave the Teachers’ Pension Scheme now, not later. That is the surest way to settle this matter and avert strike action.”

The six days of strikes planned across all 23 GDST independent schools are due to take place on February 10, 23 and 24, and March 1 to 3.

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News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email
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4 Responses to Pensions dispute sees private schools’ teachers go on strike

  1. Gavin Palmer says:

    Teaching is not a well paid profession or calling however the benefit of a stable good pension provides comfort. Although with a rapidly changing economic model with the internet high street and a technical shortage of liquidity in shares there will be a change as valuations catch up with economic value.

  2. Robert Kingland says:

    It’s a pity this article doesn’t mention the £21billion deficit that the TPS currently finds itself in and the enormous financial burden placed on independent schools to finance it. The employer contribution rate increased from 16.4% Ito 23.6% in September 2019 and is quite likely to increase further at the next fund valuation in 2003. Where does everyone think the money is going to come from?

    • Increase the fees. That won’t cost each parent too much.
      2003 was a long time ago!

      • Robert Kingland says:

        Apologies my message had a typo, the next Fund valuation is 2023 (not 2003). Fees increase pretty much each year to cater for teachers wage increases, cost of utilities and providing up to date education etc. Not all parents are wealthy enough to easily afford private education and many continue to struggle following the challenges of the pandemic. To simply continue to increase fees to pay for the massive employer contribution to the TPS does nothing more than create tension between the parent and teacher bodies.

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