TEACHERS at St Benedict’s School in Ealing who are members of the NASUWT union start the first of eight planned strike days tomorrow (Wednesday, 19).

The union says the school is attempting to remove staff from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) and enrol them in an inferior scheme. If teachers choose to remain in the TPS, they must accept a pay cut.

Patrick Roach, its general secretary, said: “The school is attempting to force them to choose between being worse off in retirement or worse off now.”

Ruth Duncan, national executive member for North West London, said: “We have made every effort to engage positively in talks with the employer.

“However we do not accept it is beyond their means to maintain teachers in the TPS or that there is any compelling financial justification for these attacks on teachers’ terms and conditions.”

Mary Edis, chair of St Benedict’s board of governors, responded: “We acutely recognise the depth of feeling on the outcome of an understandingly very difficult but very essential year-long consultation regarding the Teachers’ Pension Scheme.

“Our consultation has followed a mandatory increase in the costs of employer contributions to 28.68%, a cost which is sadly financially unsustainable for the future at St Benedict’s.

“The latest increase follows rises from 16.48% to 23.68% in the last five years and a further rise to 28.68% in April 2024.

“Unlike maintained schools, in which these increases are funded by the Government, independent schools such as St Benedict’s have to meet the costs themselves.

“We have brought in an option for staff to stay in the TPS, should they wish, with a necessary salary reduction, or to choose an Enhanced Defined Contribution Scheme, which includes three options within it. 

“We consider the options provide fair and sustainable pension provision for our highly-valued teaching staff, as well as flexibility.” 

St Benedict’s has been notified of intended strike action on June 19, 20, 26 and 27 and September 3, 4, 5 and 12.

The school says it has written to parents to reassure them of arrangements to support learning during the action.

St Benedict's is an independent co-ed Catholic school for pupils aged 3-18.