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Members of NASUWT-The Teachers’ Union at Norwich High School for Girls, are starting the first of six days of planned strike action tomorrow (Thursday) in protest at plans to downgrade their pensions, which would leave them significantly worse off in retirement.

The Girls Day School Trust (GDST), which runs the school, is planning to withdraw from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) and impose an inferior scheme on its teachers. Staff have been threatened with dismissal from their jobs if they refuse to sign up to new contracts which include the downgraded pension entitlement.

The NASUWT does not believe there is any financial justification for GDST to seek these cuts to teachers’ pension entitlements. GDST has enough funds to offer teachers fair pensions. The Trust’s finances are in a healthy condition with total funds of £461.9 million and available reserves of £43.1 million as of August 2020.

Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT General Secretary, said:

“There is no excuse for teachers at GDST schools to be threatened with cuts to their pension rights given the financial position of the employer.

“All teachers deserve certainty over income in retirement. The alternative defined contribution scheme proposed by GDST will result in an inferior pension for teachers and their families.

“Teachers are angry and upset at how they are being treated and angered that their employer is threatening to dismiss them if they refuse to sign up to inferior employment contracts.

“We call on GDST to withdraw its proposals to leave the TPS, remove its threat to fire and rehire staff, and commit to working with the NASUWT on a way forward in the interests of teachers and pupils.”

Mark Burns, NASUWT National Executive Member for Norwich, said:

“The proposed changes are an unnecessary and unjustified attack on the terms and conditions of dedicated and highly-skilled and professional teachers.

“Teachers make a school successful. GDST, as an employer, needs to value and invest in the school workforce. There is no justification for them cutting pensions.

“There is a recruitment and retention crisis in education and attacking pensions and threatening to dismiss and re-engage staff on inferior terms and conditions of service is not the way to encourage them to remain with GDST or to motivate them to deliver the best possible education for pupils.”

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