Teachers on brink of walk out over pension row

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, and Norwich High School for Girls

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union, has supported teachers from Norwich High School for Girls moving towards strike action. - Credit: Sonya Duncan/PA

Teachers at a Norwich independent high school have moved towards strike action over proposed changes to their pensions.

The National Education Union (NEU) held a ballot on whether teachers at Norwich High School for Girls should vote on a walk out.

It comes after the Girls' Day School Trust (GDST), which run the school, announced plans to withdraw from the Teacher's Pension Scheme (TPS).

In the ballot, 93pc of NEU members that teach at the high school voted in favour of holding an official strike vote. The turnout was also 93pc.

A formal strike ballot to confirm whether teachers will strike will be held by NEU next month.

Potential dates for strike action are still to be decided.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the NEU, said: "This is a clear and emphatic message to the Girls' Day School Trust.

"It should leave the employer in no doubt about the strength of feeling against this unacceptable attack on teacher pensions. During the period of the indicative ballot, the employer has failed to dispel the concerns of our members.

Joint Secretary of the National Education Union Kevin Courtney, in Westminster, London.

Kevin Courtney, joint general secretary of the National Education Union. - Credit: PA

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"This is an exceptionally strong mandate. It makes strike action look inevitable.

"The Trust should reflect on just how a large body of committed and hard-working staff have reached this point. Members are resolved and rightly determined to defend their pensions.

"We sincerely hope that strikes can be averted. We call on the GDST to engage seriously with the NEU and withdraw the proposal to leave the TPS."

Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of GDST, said: "We understand how strongly our teachers feel about this issue. We very much hope to continue to work with our teachers and the NEU to avoid industrial action.

"We also continue to discuss our pensions’ proposals with the NEU, with the aim of coming to an agreement acceptable to our teachers as part our collective consultation process which runs until the end of January.

"We remain committed to a full and robust consultation. Our priority continues to be to support our teachers through this process and maintaining an outstanding education for girls in our schools."