High school pension row resolved - but unions say damage has been done

Teachers from the Norwich High School for Girls strike over changes to pension arrangements at the school's trust

Teachers from the Norwich High School for Girls strike over changes to pension arrangements at the school's trust - Credit: Archant

A pensions row which saw teachers of a city school take to the streets in protest has reached a resolution.

Last month, teachers from Norwich High School for Girls took to the picket lines over a dispute with the Girls' Day School Trust over their pensions.

The strike action came after the GDST revealed plans to withdraw from the Teachers' Pension Scheme - a move which unionists said would cost its staff thousands in the long run.

It saw picket lines formed outside of the school on several occasions in the past month, with teachers also taking part in voluntary work in the community while they took part in the strikes.

But after Trust bosses tabled an offer which allowed staff to either remain in the TPS or join a new in-house pension plan, members voted to end the strike action. The offer also included a pay rise.

Teachers from Norwich High School for Girls and unionists protest outside the school over pension changes

Teachers from Norwich High School for Girls and unionists protest outside the school over pension changes - Credit: Archant

However, union bosses have warned that while the offer has been welcomed, work was needed to redress the damage done to the staff's trust and confidence in their employers.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, said: "NEU members should be proud of the solidarity, resolution and spirit they have shown throughout this dispute.

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"In standing up for their rights they were forced to take unprecedented and historic strike action to protect their pensions."

Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of GDST, said: "We are pleased that, with the feedback from our teachers and their recognised trade union, the NEU, we have reached a position which teachers have accepted and that gives them a choice on how they wish to receive their total reward, depending on their personal circumstances.  

"Importantly, these proposals are equally conducive to the long-term sustainability of the GDST and our charitable purpose of reaching as many girls as possible, across our family of schools.   

"As we said at the start of collective consultation, GDST has always been committed to a full and robust consultation and we have revised our original proposals significantly.

"While these negotiations have not been easy for anyone in our schools, we have together found a way forward with our teachers that means we can address the challenging financial situation that we, along with many other independent schools across the sector, are facing."