Teachers at Yorkshire boarding school vote to strike in pensions row

Teachers at a boarding school in Yorkshire are planning to strike in a row over pensions.

Queen Mary’s School in Topcliffe said it would be “fully open” when teachers represented by two trade unions stage a two-day walkout, which is due to begin on Tuesday January 30.

The National Education Union (NEU) said members voted for industrial action after the school decided to remove them from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).

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According to the union, governors threatened to fire and rehire teachers who refused to accept “a reduction in their terms and conditions”.

Queen Mary’s School in TopcliffeQueen Mary’s School in Topcliffe
Queen Mary’s School in Topcliffe

The school, owned by the Woodard Corporation, said it was looking to introduce a “more flexible” pension package and “many teachers will end up better off”.

Gary McVeigh-Kaye, branch secretary, said: “Our members stand to lose thousands of pounds from their pensions if the school go through with their proposal.

"We simply cannot stand by and let our members have their pension rights stripped away from them.

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“The Tory government has recently announced that employers’ contributions are being increased by 5 per cent and whilst state schools and academies are not being asked to fund the increase, for the first year after its introduction, independent schools will not be offered such protection.”

The school’s chairman of governors Tom Fielden said he was “extremely disappointed” and “surprised” by the teachers’ decision to strike.

He added: “Most independent schools are investigating a move from the TPS and are either within this standard consultation process or have already made the change.

“Our proposals are more flexible than the current arrangements and are modelled on those already in place at many other independent schools.

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“It is important to note that we have taken a great deal of care over the proposals which have been designed by an independent financial adviser to deliver a package that is closely comparable to, or better than, the existing pension. Many teachers will end up better off.

“The school will be fully open during the strike days and we will do everything in our power to minimise the impact of this action. Pupils are always our first priority."

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