Tring Park Concerns Group support teacher strike over pension scheme
School governors say they are working to try and find a solution to the situation
Some teachers at Tring Park School for Performing Arts have been taking part in five days of strike action over the dispute with the Governing Body over proposals to leave the Teacher’s Pension Scheme (TPS).
There have been morning pickets at the school site on Wednesday, June 23, and Wednesday, June 30, - there are three further strikes planned on 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.
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.
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.
Tring Park Concerns Group - a group of students, alumni and parents of Tring Park School for the Performing Arts - is supporting the strike.
A spokesperson for the group said: "We are completely intendent to the staff members and NEU, we want to show our support and stand in solidarity with the striking staff at the school.
"The teachers have been given the options of a lesser pension scheme or no pension scheme, there is also the chance of fire and rehire.
"The teachers are what makes the school, the love and dedication they showed us can never be repaid and to see them having to fight for their right to a pension is devastating.
"With alumni such as Daisy Ridley, Lily James, Jessica Brown Findlay and Ella Henderson - the calibre of education from academic and vocational staff is THE reason students come from the other side of the world to train here."
In an open letter from the NEU member Teachers at Tring Park School for the Performing Arts, it says: £The NEU and NASUWT members and teachers at Tring Park School are keen to communicate directly with parents about why they have had to make the very difficult decision to withdraw their labour.
"Teaching is a vocation, but it is not an especially lucrative profession. In order to compensate for a comparatively low salary, schools offer enrolment in the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TSP) as a way to attract and retain the highest quality teaching staff. Teachers sign a contract to teach, in return for a monthly salary and the school’s contributions to the TPS.
"At a time of unprecedented pressures on teachers due to Covid-19, the Governors have expressed their intention to withdraw all teaching staff from the TPS and move them to a Defined Contribution (DC) scheme in order to reduce costs.
"As part of this process, the school began a consultation with the teaching staff.
"However, the HR1 Form (for employers who need to give advance notification of redundancies to the government) issued by the school right at the start of this consultation process, left no doubt in teachers’ minds that their jobs were at stake.
"It became clear that the school intended to adopt the highly controversial and unethical process of ‘fire and rehire’, where teaching staff are asked to accept the terms of a new contract,
with the prospect of dismissal if they do not.
"This threat is still present, and this consultation comes after several valued colleagues have already been made redundant.
"Teachers are deeply concerned about the demoralising prospect of being subjected to the fire and rehire process, not to mention the detrimental effect that leaving the national pension scheme will have on both staff retention and recruitment in the future.
"This will undoubtedly have negative consequences for the education and wellbeing of current and future students.
"In summary, therefore, the teachers are withdrawing their labour in protest against the prospect of being forcibly taken out of the TPS and the deeply unprofessional way in which the consultation process has been conducted by the Governors.
"We are seeking a fair, negotiated settlement that will allow members to return to what they do best, teach and nurture the students in their care."
A spokesperson for the governors at Tring Park School said: “The governors at Tring park school have been working tirelessly to find a solution to this situation.
"The financial pressures caused by the government changes to the Teachers Pension Scheme are a significant challenge for the whole independent school sector and especially so for Performing Arts Schools who want to support children from all backgrounds to pursue a career in the performing arts.
"We value the work that all our teachers do and are striving to find the best way forward."