Teachers stage strike action at Ipswich School

Teachers spend March 1 striking after disputes with Ipswich School over their pensions.

Teachers spend March 1 striking after disputes with Ipswich School over their pensions. - Credit: Darren Smith

A number of teachers at a private school in Ipswich took strike action on Tuesday over potential changes being made to their contracts.

Members of the teaching unions NASUWT and NEU unions gathered outside the gates of the prestigious Ipswich School in Henley Road, protesting changes which they say could potentially affect their pensions.

Staff are concerned the proposed changes could lead to them having to leave the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). 

Headteacher Nicholas Weaver says the school is concerned that the amount the school is required to pay into teachers’ pensions may rise significantly. 

He says: “Our original proposal was to come out of the TPS, but we've modified that to a proposal where teachers stay in, but we set limits on affordability.  

“This would mean we would come out if they were breached in the future, but we're not proposing to take anybody out of the TPS.” 

However, representatives of the two unions are unhappy with this proposal, and feel it is pre-emptive. 

Teachers gathered with placards bearing slogans to protest proposed changes to their contracts.

Teachers gathered with placards bearing slogans to protest proposed changes to their contracts. - Credit: Darren Smith

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Keith Anderson, regional organiser for the NASUWT, said: “There is no need at this time to change anyone’s contract. 

“When the government comes forward with an announcement, that’s the time to have further conversations and make decisions 

“But now is not the time to do that. At the moment, it’s all ‘buts’ and ‘maybes'.’” 

Craig Tournay Godfrey, the Ipswich and South Suffolk District Secretary for the NEU, added: “They said that because of the financial burden, the school would not be able to afford to remain in the TPS, but we have no evidence yet that that’s going to happen. 

Mr Anderson says that teachers do not take strike action likely, and would rather be in the classroom teaching.

Mr Anderson says that teachers do not take strike action likely, and would rather be in the classroom teaching. - Credit: Darren Smith

“Once we know, we will all get together and help the school if it is in difficulty, to reach the best outcome. We will all work together.” 

Mr Anderson added: “Teachers do not take strike action readily. They're really disappointed in their employer, because they’d far rather be in the school teaching the kids.” 

Teachers braved the wind and rain to protest outside the school.

Teachers braved the wind and rain to protest outside the school. - Credit: Darren Smith

Mr Weaver said: “The potential rate rise in the future is a risk to the finances of the school if it's not something that we address now.” 

He said that the school and staff were engaged in an ongoing consultation process.