The GDST has begun consultation with our teachers and their recognised trade union, the NEU, across our 23 independent schools on proposed changes to teachers’ pensions. Teachers are – and have always been – key to the success of the GDST family of schools and we recognise and value their incredible contribution and dedication to the education of the girls in our schools.
The decision to begin collective consultation was reluctantly reached by Trustees following a 43% increase in employer contributions to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS) in 2019. Since this time, the GDST has been grappling with this increase, which rose from 16.48% to 23.68% for employers. This uplift has been covered by the government in the maintained sector, including for our two academies, but not for independent schools. We are not alone in having to respond to the additional burden; 280 schools in the independent sector have already left the TPS, and many more are planning to leave or are already in consultation with their teachers.
Our priority is to do the very best for teachers across all our schools, and to ensure the long-term sustainability of the GDST. As a charity, the GDST invests all funds into our educational offer, and teachers are vital to our mission of helping girls learn without limits. Our Trustees are proposing an excellent alternative to the TPS, which we know is one of the best on offer in the sector, with a 20% employer contribution into a flexible, defined contribution pension plan alongside other benefits.
Cheryl Giovannoni, Chief Executive of the GDST said: “We are, and always will be, incredibly grateful for the hard work and commitment of our teaching staff, especially throughout the past 18 months. We appreciate that our teachers’ pensions are a significant part of the overall reward package they receive, and the decision to propose changes to pensions for teachers has not been taken lightly.
We are doing all we can to support our teachers through this collective consultation process, which runs until the end of January 2022. We would not have proposed to leave the TPS until we had a viable alternative for our teachers, one which we are confident will give them a comfortable retirement and additional flexibility around their total remuneration package.
We are committed to a full and robust consultation process and are following due process as required by our Recognition Agreement with the NEU and current legislation. All the views and feedback of teachers and the NEU are being shared with GDST Trustees, who will make the final decision on whether to move forward with the proposed GDST flexible pension plan at the end of the collective consultation process.”