Fringe Box



Royal Grammar School Teachers Go Out on Strike

Published on: 25 May, 2023
Updated on: 27 May, 2023

Striking teachers outside the Royal Grammar School

By Martin Giles

Striking teachers at the Royal Grammar School are completing their days of industrial action today over pension arrangements. It is believed to be the first teachers’ strike in the school’s 500-year history.

Last week and this they are striking on Wednesday and Thursday. But they admit that the school is continuing to operate with teachers who are either not members of the unions taking action, the National Education Union (NEU) and the NASUWT, or those who do not wish to strike.

The NEU claims repeated offers have been made to meet to discuss this dispute with the governors, but these have been rejected and a vote was overwhelmingly for strike action.

The action is affecting both the main school in the Upper High Street and RGS Prep school, in Maori Road.

Teachers at the RGS are members of the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS), a government-run scheme which guarantees benefits based on career length and salary. All state school teachers and most of those working in independent schools are members of the TPS.

According to the strikers, the school’s governors have proposed changes to the pension arrangements which are unacceptable to the teaching staff. They say it is proposed to cap the school’s contribution to the TPS at 25 per cent, above the current government-set rate of 23.7 per cent.

This means that if the government sets a higher contribution rate in future, teachers in the TPS will have to fund the difference, reducing take-home pay, or move to a proposed inferior private (defined contribution) scheme.

The strikers say this is an unfair transfer of future risk from the employer onto its employees but the governors intend to force through these changes by use of a controversial “fire and rehire” tactic procedure, with dismissal (without redundancy pay) of staff who refuse to sign a new contract incorporating the changed terms.

The independent grammar school has not responded to The Guildford Dragon’s invitation to comment but it is believed that the governors feel they need to take control of costs and protect the school’s financial position despite what strikers say is a consistently healthy annual surplus.

In a statement issued by the NEU it says: “We are calling for the governors to withdraw the current proposals and to suspend further consideration of changes to teachers’ pension provision until such time as significant changes to the cost of the TPS and/or other threats to the school’s financial position are known rather than speculative.

“NEU members do not engage in this action lightly but it is clear to them that industrial action is their only resort in this situation.”

Laurence Rose, the regional development officer of NEU, South East Region, said today that no further industrial action on the issue was planned.

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Responses to Royal Grammar School Teachers Go Out on Strike

  1. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 26, 2023 at 7:13 am

    Will parents, who pay extremely high fees, be able to reclaim a pro-rata amount for days of education lost?

  2. Stuart Barnes Reply

    May 26, 2023 at 9:04 am

    This is appalling. I thought that the RGS was above this sort of thing.

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