Teachers at a private school between Kings Langley and Hemel Hempstead have swapped pupils for pickets to fight against new contracts which they believe offer “worse pensions and working conditions”.
Members of teachers’ unions NASUWT and NEU at Abbot’s Hill School in Bunkers Lane have taken strike action today (Thursday, January 27) and over the course of several other days this month to object to new contracts which the school is urging them to sign.
The unions say the teachers are being threatened with dismissal from their jobs unless they sign the contract, which withdraws the employees from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS).
NASUWT accused the independent school of “attempting to get away with disgraceful fire and rehire tactics”.
Dr Patrick Roach, NASUWT general secretary, said: “It cannot be acceptable for teachers to be threatened with dismissal unless they agree to accept an inferior pension that will leave teachers poorer in retirement.
“The teachers at Abbot’s Hill care deeply about their pupils’ – they just want to be treated fairly.”
Michelle Codrington-Rogers, NASUWT ex-president, said: “Our members have demonstrated time and time again that they are against being withdrawn from the TPS.
“Many will have deferred pay from other schools or colleges as an investment in their future and they are not happy with their retirement plans being decided by a current employer.
“NASUWT members at Abbot’s Hill are clear and resolute that they want to and should remain in the TPS and no threat of Fire and Rehire will scare them otherwise.”
A spokesperson for Abbot’s Hill School said: “The governors and head of Abbot’s Hill School regret that teaching members of the NEU and NASUWT have voted to take industrial action.
“The school has now met the NEU and the NASUWT. The consultation is still in progress and no final decisions have yet been made.
“Nearly a quarter of the country’s independent schools have left or are planning to leave the TPS because of the unrealistic and unsustainable level of employer contributions which amount to a 43 per cent increase since 2019.
“The school’s main objective now is to ensure that the best possible educational experience is delivered to the pupils during this challenging time.”