School trust tables amended pension plan

School trust tables amended pension plan
Photo taken by a teacher of the strike action, provided to FTAdviser on condition of anonymity

The Girls' Day School Trust has tabled a revised pension proposal to teaching staff affected by the trust's original decision to opt out of the Teachers' Pension Scheme.

Following strike action earlier in February, the GDST issued a statement in which it said it had changed its original pension proposal to teaching staff.

The new offer gives teachers the choice between continued membership of the TPS under favourable terms or joining the GDST Flexible Pension Plan.

According to the GDST, it "took this new offer to the National Education Union in good faith, with the invitation to work through the details together, whilst suspending strike action, in an attempt to reach an agreed settlement that NEU could recommend to their members".

However, the GDST teachers' union, the NEU, has rejected the new proposals, and said it would continue with more strike action, which it claimed would affect all 23 of the GDST's independent schools across England and Wales this week (March 1 to March 3).

David Evans, Wales secretary for the NEU, said: "First impressions are that the GDST’s latest proposal will create an unwelcome two-tier system for our members, worsening conditions over time including a real-terms pay cut.

"It is in the Trust’s interests to continue talks with the recognised union, but we are not yet able to properly assess their proposal and therefore strikes will go ahead this week."

But the GDST said: "Our proposal means teachers will have personal choice about how they receive their total reward, something they felt was important to them, and which we have addressed with this new offer.

"Many other schools in the independent sector have successfully found a way of giving teachers the option of remaining in the TPS with routes that have often involved teachers taking a pay cut to support continued membership.

"The GDST is offering teachers a pay rise along with continued membership of the TPS."

Future pay rises for teachers will be calculated using a formula that maintains ongoing parity in the cost to the GDST of providing the total reward for all teachers, whichever pension scheme they choose to be part of. 

'Overwhelming mandate'

As reported by FTAdviser, the pressure on GDST’s finances caused by the 43 per cent increase in TPS employers' contributions means the Trust has had to act to ensure that jobs and schools are protected.

It has claimed the additional annual financial burden of £6mn created by increased TPS costs would be unsustainable. 

Cheryl Giovannoni, chief executive of the GDST, commented: “The GDST is wholly disheartened that the NEU has refused to stand down strikes with this updated offer on the table.

"Every effort has been made to give teachers the choice to remain in the TPS and we cannot understand the NEU’s position not to work with us to bring teachers back to the classroom to support our students while discussions are ongoing."