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Eton staff may join pension strike

News | Published in TES Newspaper on 24 June, 2011 | By: Stephen Exley

PM’s alma mater among independents facing disruption on Thursday

Teachers at Eton College are considering whether to refuse to take classes in protest at proposed changes to their pensions, The TES has learned.

As thousands of state and independent school teachers prepare to go on strike next Thursday, union members at Eton, the public school attended by prime minister David Cameron and princes William and Harry, are also considering taking action.

While many of the 95 members of the ATL union at the world-famous Windsor school, which charges fees of up to £30,000 a year, are said to be reluctant to take part in a full strike, they are planning to meet on Sunday evening to decide what stand to take.

One option that will be discussed involves teachers refusing to take lessons and only providing pastoral care during the national day of action, in order to express their anger at the Government’s proposals.

These include increasing teachers’ contributions by 50 per cent, switching from a final-salary to career-average scheme, and gradually raising the retirement age.

Around 22,000 ATL and NUT members in the independent sector were balloted on whether to take part in the industrial action.

More than 7,000 voted, with the strike backed by 83 per cent of ATL members and 89 per cent of teachers in the NUT, but heads are still unsure how many will actually go on strike.

Berkhamsted School in Hertfordshire, another leading independent school, faces severe disruption and will be partially closed for the day.

Headmaster Mark Steed told The TES that he expected “60 to 70 per cent” of his teachers to go on strike.

He said 96 out of the school’s 107 ATL members had voted for the strike, and that he expected a “large majority” would take to the picket line on Thursday.

Three trips planned for Thursday by the school, which counts author Graham Greene and Sir Winston Churchill’s wife Clementine among its alumni, are expected to go ahead, but Mr Steed said the school would effectively operate on a “snow day” footing.

“I suspect we will be able to put something on, but it won’t be normal teaching. The teachers want to show professional solidarity with those in the maintained sector, and show they are all in it together.

“There are very strong feelings about this, but the problem is that it’s not inconveniencing the Government one iota by them going on strike,” he added.

At prestigious Winchester College in Hampshire, around 70 per cent of teachers are union members. A spokesman said school leaders were still waiting for union leaders to inform them how many teachers were planning to strike.

Geoff Lucas, secretary of the Headmasters’ and Headmistresses’ Conference, which represents the heads of 250 leading independent schools, said most of its members were still waiting to be notified of how many staff were planning to strike next week, but he did not expect any to be forced to close for the day.

He said some heads were very unhappy about their staff taking action when it was the schools, rather than the Government, that would suffer as a result.

“There are many heads who are sympathetic (to the strikes), and a lot who are unhappy with the disruption which will be caused by the industrial action,” he said.

“What our members find difficult is that the target of the strikes is the Government, not the schools, and some heads are very unhappy about the prospect of action which is not targeted at the right people.”

Eton’s headmaster Tony Little was unavailable for comment.


Original headline: Not too posh to protest: Eton staff may join pension strike

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Comment (16)

  • I have many friends in the Independent sector and there are a lot of schools facing industrial action that have never faced this sort of thing before.

    The Independent sector have far more to lose than even the state sector as they'll be kicked out of the TPS if Gove has his way. That will put a stop to teachers, like myself, moving between the two sectors. Yet more evidence that Gove hasn't a clue what he is doing.

    Well done brithers & Sisters; We're all in this together!

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    24 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • It's not just further dividing the independent and state sector - the government is getting rid of national pay and conditions in the state sector by the back door; pushing schools to become academies (where they don't have to apply) and promoting Free schools (which are also exempt from using them).

    The government have a stated obejective of de-regulating pay and conditions in the education sector, which is why they abolished the SSSNB which was trying to provide common T&C and a career structure for support staff - including science technicians.

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    25 June, 2011


  • Gove states that we have a moral duty to keep schools open, don't you think the government have a moral duty to stick to the contract we signed up to on entry to this proffession with regard to our pensions.

    I urge all heads and teachers, private or public to close on Thursday and show solidarity to all that work in our profession.

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    26 June, 2011


  • Gove was just on the TV (10pm news BBC1 Sunday)

    What a weasal of a man!

    He was ''warning'' teachers not to go on strike.
    He said it would ''damage'' our reputation & increase pressure for more anti-union laws despite all the unions FULLY abiding by all the current strict union laws...........The implication that the teaching unions somehow are dragging reluctant teachers out against their will is laughable!
    He said the strike would be a ''retrograde'' step. I might point out that his plans for our pensions are VERY retrograde!
    He talked of militancy; despite the ALT never going on national strike before!
    Would you buy a car from this man? Neither would I.

    In truth Gove is an outright liar. He is scum.
    The ConDem's could stop this tomorrow by talking; open honest talking with no gun to our head & genuine bargining.

    This Thursday I'm marching to Goves office; I predict he'll be hiding somewhere else!

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    26 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • Good interview on the Radio 4 Today programme this morning:

    Kevin Courtney, deputy general secretary of the National Union of Teachers spoke very well explaining why teachers were being FORCED to strike. As well as explaining how our pension was FULLY FUNDED and required no alterations.

    Cabinet Office minister Francis Maude pretended to look at the possibility of a 'compromise' so long as it is ENTIRELY on Tory terms!

    (Interesting that Maud spoke out against teachers; he is a rather shifty character to moralise to us. During the expenses scandal Maude allegedly purchased a flat in London, close to a house he already owned, before claiming on the flat and renting out the house. How's that for an ethically 'clean' Cabinet Office minister? In addition he is forcing through cuts to our pension based on the bank-bail-out and world financial crisis. It is worthwhile noting that Maude, "who has railed against irresponsible lending by banks and mortgage companies", can be accused of hypocrisy for receiving more than £100,000 as a director of a company that profited enourmously from sub-prime mortgages before bankrupting itself. I'll bet HE didn't pay one penny of his £100,000 cheque back to investors. Ask yourself if teachers can ever trust people like Maude NOT to defraud us of our pensions?)

    Teachers (& their employers) contribute 20% of their gross pay for their entire career; which can be up to 45 years. For that they get 1/80 of their final salary for every year worked in pension plus a lump sum or 1/60 if employed after 2007 with no lump sum. If they retire early they can lose up to 25% of final benefits due to actuarial reduction. On average teachers earn under £30,000 & currently the average teachers pension paid out is well under £10,000. The teachers scheme was altered 4 years ago and is FULLY FUNDED by members; there simply is no statistical argument for increasing contributions at all.

    A 3.4 per cent increase in pension contributions by 2014 doesn't sound a lot but represents an extra £100 per month to each teacher on average, on top of a public sector pay freeze, higher indirect taxes, fall in relative earnings & rising inflation.............teachers are being asked to do more for less.

    Most public sector pensions are a variation on the old Ponzi fraudulent investment scheme. Teachers, Fire service people, Police etc have all paid huge sums of money into the scheme to fund current pensions & are right to be upset that now they're going to be asked to cough up yet more.

    The statistics for forcing this current increase in teacher pension contributions through are FUNDAMENTALY FLAWED. There is no Public Sector Pension 'Black Hole'; it is a statistically created crisis.

    No Black Hole?
    The ConDem's take the pensions of teachers alongside the Police service pensions, Fire service pensions etc and then add in the BLACK HOLE which is the Armed Forces pensions. Teachers & their employers currently pay in 20% of a teachers pay for up to 45 years, and the Police/Fire service pay in a greater percentage for less time alongside the employer’s contributions which pay in huge amounts. The Armed Forces pay absolutely no contribution to their pensions. In the words of Monty Python; not a sausage, bugger all!..........that is why we have a Public Sector Pension Black Hole.

    Traditionally the Armed Forces were not asked to actually contribute to their pension; they were given a non-contributary pension award. I have no argument & am not asking the forces to pay 'more'; but the ConDem's should not use teachers to cross-subsidise the armed forces pensions.

    The cure?
    1. Look at teachers, fire service, police service and others who PAY MONEY IN large pension contributions already separate from those who don't.
    2. Pay the Armed Forces 10% extra in pay & then take it off them as a 'pension contribution'; then include them with teachers, fire service, police service and others in calculating overall pensions.
    Either way the Public Sector Pension Black Hole will vanish completely or at least reduce to a manageable size in seconds! That way the ConDem's have no excuse for 'reining in' pensions!

    Do not be taken in; this is simply the ConDem party telling teachers to pay for a financial crisis that was created by the banking sector. A banking sector who currently are raking in millions & paying themselves a huge bonus out of what is effectively public money!

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    27 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • What about the fact that MP's have to work only 15 years in order to qualify for a £25000 pension? Why is this not publicised?

    I think I might leave teaching and become an MP, work 15 years by making false promises and then live happily on a fat pension.

    Talk about gold plated or what!

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    27 June, 2011


  • Be honest. If you are a Tory millionaire you aren't doing the job of being an MP for the salary.

    The lucrative set of executive positions in companies that want an MP on their board is what will make you REALO money. £25,000 is small change to Cameron, Osborne etc they probably didn't notice that they got a pension at all.

    Take Francis Maude for instance. Do you think he bothers about a £25,000 pension when his annual salary was £25,000 from 2002 to 2005, for attending up to six meetings a year for a certain sub-prime lending company , and £12000 a year 2006 to 2008 before the company went into liquidation in April 2009 having helped CAUSE the banking crisis?

    Maude can also be accused of hypocrisy for promoting his "family-friendly" image while being the non-executive chairman of the Jubilee Trust, which held 21% of American pornographic actress Jill Kelly's adult DVD business, and chairman of the Mission Marketing Group, which has advertised for WKD drinks and Playboy.............Remember THAT when he next uses the word 'moral' against a group of hard working teachers.

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    27 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond


    Remember, the man who thinks it immoral for teachers to go on strike?

    While Gove was a trainee reporter at the Press and Journal in Aberdeen, he spent several months on strike in a dispute over union recognition and representation.

    So it was ok for HIM to go on strike for several months but it isn't ok for teachers to go on strike for one day!.............Hypocritical or wot?

    Gove is great at putting his foot in 'it'
    In December 2010, in an article in the Daily Telegraph, Gove claimed that "Like Chairman Mao, we’ve embarked on a Long March to reform our education system", apparently unaware that Mao's cultural revolution closed China's education system for ten years and led to the deaths of many teachers....................I'm beginning to think that may have actually been a good analogy of his work!

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    27 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • ALSO

    If saving tax payers money is Gove's plan...........

    You need to note that Michael Gove reportedly claimed £7,000 for furnishing a London property before 'flipping' his designated second home to a house in his constituency, a property for which he claimed around £13,000 to cover stamp duty. Around a third of the first £7,000 was spent at an interior design company owned by Gove's mother-in-law......see

    You also need to note that Gove also claimed for a cot mattress, despite children's items being banned under the Commons rule. Gove said he would repay the claim for the cot mattress, but maintained that his other claims were "below the acceptable threshold costs for furniture" and that the property flipping was necessary "to effectively discharge my parliamentary duties".

    While he was moving between his multiple homes, he stayed at the Pennyhill Park Hotel and Spa, charging the taxpayer more than £500 per night's stay.

    Asa far as Gove is concerned it is spend, spend, spend but as far as our FULLY FUNDED pensions go it is cut, cut, cut!

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    27 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond


    What more can one say about that an odious, incompetent, nasty little man?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    28 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • During my many many years as a teacher I have had to put up with the unspoken contempt/ disbelief of my ex uni-mates who were dining out, driving new cars, living in houses with 4 beds, not 2, etc for many years. I worked for a few years in the independent sector & put up with the contempt/ disbelief of rich parents mostly less qualified than me able to afford an education I couldn't have dreamed of as a child. They saw me as a put-upon wimp, lacking vision, putting security and service to the public ahead of personal living standards, fast/big cars & bling.

    They ha-ha'dor Rah,Rah'd when they heard that 6% of my meagre wages went to superannuation. But that was in the old days when things boomed. Now that those privateers are suffering from the faults inherent in their own profit chasing, system that previously rewarded them so handsomely they view my pension enviously. Like grasshoppers berating ants in winter.

    My pension was part of the deal I agreed to. I settled many years ago for a low salary then in exchange for security now as I approach retirement. It was a contract. Contract? - that's the bit of paper that gentlemen honour.

    Gove, Cameron & all those ba**ard Tory Millionaire playboys are not gentlemen; they are barely man.

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    28 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • Yesterday David Cameron said: ''It's a simple fact of maths, rational people will look at these proposals........''

    1. Rational people are rational because they look at EVIDENCE. The evidence does not support an argument to increase the contributions to the TPS. The actuarial valuation clearly shows we are FULLY FUNDED I take it Cameron has actually LOOKED at the maths in that report; I have & the simple fact of maths is that Cameron is wrong.

    2 In a wonderful interview on Radio 4 this morning the government spokesperson lost the argument on affordability of pensions & government reasons FOR reform. The government has described upcoming strikes over pension changes as "regrettable, unnecessary and premature", insisting that, following Lord Hutton's landmark report, the current system is not affordable. But the Institute of Fiscal Studies has questioned that analysis, with the organisation's Carl Emmerson stating that "affordability is not a very good argument for making these schemes [public sector pensions] less generous". With a gradual decline in the proportion of the national budget spent on public pensions predicted over the long-term, he said, "if we want to afford them we can". But Treasury minister Justine Greening argued against that and got flustered trying NOT to answer the obvious question. Have a listen..........

    3. The current debate has singled out teachers union leaders for attack by the right wing press giving details of their pay & pension conditions. The problem is when you see the numbers you realise that they get the same pay as an average headteacher in an typical Academy. So how is that going to turn teachers against their union leaders?

    4. The government keeps painting a picture of poor pension provision in the private sector. It has emerged during the ''Incomes Data Services study'' that the average value of FINAL salary pension pots for directors of companies is now £2.8 million; well above anyone in the public sector. Cash payments in lieu of pensions are also common with chiefs gaining on average £160,000 on top of their highly inflated pay. The numbers come from a group of 137 directors working for FTSE-100 companies. All these pensions are funded by you & I when we buy goods & services; we have no say in how much these men (yes they were all men!) get. I can see an argument to cut THEIR pensions to reduce the rate of inflation; why don't the government go after THEIR pensions?

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    29 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • <p> What Brooke Bond said. I had this crapola from higher-earning "friends"back in the day. Not to mention pitying "couldn't you do better than being a teacher?"<p/>

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    29 June, 2011


  • Huge Kudos to Brooke Bond for his analysis and rigour.

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    29 June, 2011



    March for your pension. Show the government ATL members' strength of feeling on this critical issue. Tell them loudly that paying more, working longer, and getting less is unacceptable to you.

    11.00 Thursday 30th June..............Lincoln's Inn Fields, centre of London
    March to Westminster Central Hall.

    See you there; I'll be the one wearing Yellow!

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    29 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

  • Just got back from the London March & the meeting in Whitehall..............great atmosphere!

    Current score:.........................ConDem's 0 vs 1 Teachers

    Maybe even: ConDem's 0 vs 100,000(+) Teachers!

    This may only be a half time result..............over to you Gove (if it was tennis I'd say: 'new balls please!')

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

    30 June, 2011

    Brooke Bond

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