Updated Letter To Parents

News 4 comments

Dear GDST Parents and Carers,

We are writing this letter to clarify our position regarding the continued industrial action. We are devastated to still have to strike today; this is not a decision we take lightly.

We are conscious that the parent community are not receiving a full and fair account of events and would like to share some important details with you, to explain our position.

We made clear from the start our desire not to have our contracts changed: we do not accept a diminishment of our contractual benefits. Pension is deferred pay that we receive as teachers, in a sector where the majority of teachers are women and salaries do not match the pay of our graduate peers.

Until there is an absolute imperative to do so, the GDST should not have issued any proposals to reduce teachers’ remuneration package. Despite months of consultation, the GDST have failed to present genuine tangible evidence that there is a financial need for these proposals.

The NEU presented the GDST with a proposal last Wednesday, which was simple, reasonable and cost neutral to the GDST. It would offer a much-needed period of stability after the challenges of the pandemic.

The proposal is simply to keep matters as they are until 2024, when the facts regarding employer contribution would be known. It would be a period of unity and rebuilding of trust.

We recognise that if employer contributions were to rise in September 2024 as a result of the current valuation being undertaken, matters may be different and the current pension might not be sustainable, at which point the Trust may need to consider other options.

We continue to ask the GDST to engage with this proposal and the door remains open for discussion.

We want to reach a swift, negotiated, settlement and end this dispute so we can get back to teaching the girls. It is disappointing that the GDST is not engaging with our proposal and seeks to move forward with an offer that would see a reduction in teachers’ overall reward package.

In this most recent proposal, the Trust have announced that there is an option to remain in the TPS and that the union is refusing to accept this. In reality, this last-minute offer is substantially different to our current terms in the TPS. It brings complex factors relating to inflation and pay into the matter. It would reduce employer contributions, the deficit of which would be made up out of teacher’s pay. To avoid a pay cut, it would depend upon yearly pay rises of a level never seen before in the GDST (pay was frozen last year and has consistently fallen well below inflation in recent years).

In addition, substituting part of the employer contribution with teacher pay will impact on career average salaries, upon which the TPS is dependent. It would therefore reduce the overall value of the pension and leave members in a significantly worse position in retirement.

GDST finances are healthy. Income has continued to outstrip expenditure since the employer pension contribution rise in 2019. Current reserves stand at £43.1m, above the appropriate range determined by the Trustees of £28-£43 million. The Trust has set aside £139m for new build capital spend over the next three years.

So it is certainly affordable for all staff to stay in the TPS until September 2024 as the NEU has proposed.

The GDST chose to start this unfortunate dispute and have the power to stop it immediately, by engaging with the very reasonable cost-neutral proposal set out by the NEU.

The GDST’s current offer will still have a detrimental impact on GDST school’s ability to retain and attract the best teachers going forward. It will still result in teachers at the GDST being on worse terms and conditions of employment than our state sector colleagues.

We thank you for your continued understanding and support.

NEU GDST Teachers

Notting Hill & Ealing High School
NEU Public Meeting For Parents & Carers
Thurs 3rd March 7pm
Zoom Link here

Meeting ID: 868 9241 0411
Passcode: 064792

For more information contact Stefan Simms Ealing NEU

Tel: 07817 643 546

Email: stefan.simms@neu.org.uk

4 responses on “Updated Letter To Parents

  1. A parent

    When this pension issue is resolved, how are the teachers & GDST proposing to work together to catch up on lost curriculum and teaching time given the days lost to strike action?

  2. A parent

    The GDST tell us that you are being offered a pay rise and a choice of whether to stay in TPS or not. Is that true – as it seems entirely reasonable? Also we note that GDST seems to be making a number of proposals which have all been rejected. Are you happy using my children as a bargaining chip?

  3. A parent

    As a fee paying parent, I have very little sympathy for striking teachers. The government has changed the financial requirements to stay in TPS for independent schools. GDST is reacting to what the government has done as will other independent schools. However because GDST has 23 schools as part of the group the union is using this critical mass to drive the point of their dissatisfaction with the new system at the expense of my children’s education. It should not be a shock to have private sector pension schemes when you work in a private sector job. Independent school teachers enjoy many benefits that are not available in the public sector. Change is hard and I appreciate wanting to negotiate for a better plan. But as mentioned by a parent above, GDTS has now offered teachers the option to stay with TPS or move to new scheme. That sounds very reasonable so I don’t understand why teachers are still striking. I have very little sympathy for teachers using my children for bargaining power and a union using the large numbers of teachers at GDST to make a point within the the independent school sector.

  4. An ex teacher

    The comments above asking whether teachers are happy to use children as bargaining chips are outrageous and clearly show no appreciation for who teachers are and why they do what they do. Teachers always do the very best for their students and of course will ensure any work missed over strike time is caught up – do you seriously think they would just let them flounder and head onwards, no fully prepared for whatever assessment etc came next? That would benefit absolutely no one (including the teachers). The fact that they have got to the point of striking, given it means catch up stress and extra work etc later on, is surely indicative of how unhappy they are and how unreasonable these plans are. Current salaries are below inner London levels and state schools in some cases, and yet private school expectations from parents have not gone away in terms of quality of staff, workload etc. If the GDST don’t want to retain staff (or attract the very best staff), they’re absolutely going the right way about it. Frankly, life would be much easier in another career altogether, and teachers are highly qualified individuals who could easily go elsewhere, were they purely focused on money. But they are not. They just want their dues. (Especially after all they did during lockdown and since Covid measures and impacts have been in place). The lack of respect from the GDST is one thing, but the lack of respect from parents, who know how hard teachers work for their children, is sickening.