Commenting on the first of six scheduled strike days by National Education Union (NEU) teacher members working in Girls’ Day School Trust independent schools, Dr Mary Bousted, joint general secretary said:
"Today saw an historic strike by NEU teacher members who work in Girls' Day School Trust's 23 independent schools. This is the first day of strike action in the Trust's 149-year history and speaks to a regrettable impasse with an employer who seeks to slash the pensions of its staff. If enacted, this plan will be a disaster for staff, for future recruitment and for pupils.
"Today, from Nottingham to Cardiff, from Newcastle to London, and many points between, GDST teachers, parents and alumnae showed their strength of feeling. This is set to continue with further strike days on 23 and 24 February and in early March. But this can all be averted if the Trust withdraws its plan fully and without caveat, and to do so immediately. There is no financial imperative to justify pursuing an erosion of hard-working staff's terms and conditions, and this is a plan which members oppose and will continue to oppose vehemently."
The formal postal ballot ran from 10 to 26 January 2022. The question put was:
"Are you prepared to take part in sustained and discontinuous strike action in furtherance of this dispute?
"Change to conditions of service [withdrawal from the Teachers’ Pension Scheme and/or variation to pension provision]."
GDST own 23 independent girls’ schools across England and Wales. 75% of its teaching staff – more than 1,500 in total – are members of the NEU. Only teachers were eligible to vote in the indicative ballot. The NEU also represents staff at GDST working in other capacities.
GDST also owns two former independent schools which became academies. They have separate legal status and do not have the option of leaving the TPS, so their teaching staff are not part of this ballot.
The full list of schools involved in today’s strike is as follows: Blackheath High School, London; Brighton Girls, Brighton; Bromley High School, London; Croydon High School, London; Howell's School, Llandaff, Cardiff; Kensington Prep School, London; Newcastle High School for Girls, Newcastle; Northampton High School, Northampton; Northwood College for Girls, London; Norwich High School for Girls, Norwich; Notting Hill & Ealing High School, London; Nottingham Girls' High School, Nottingham; Oxford High School, Oxford; Portsmouth High School, Portsmouth; Putney High School, London; Royal High School Bath, Bath; Sheffield Girls', Sheffield; Shrewsbury High School, Shrewsbury; South Hampstead High School, London; Streatham & Clapham High School, London; Sutton High School, London; Sydenham High School, London; Wimbledon High School, London.