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
For more information contact Stefan Simms Ealing NEU
Tel: 07817 643 546