Headteachers likely to ballot for national strike over pensions

National Association of Head Teachers threatens to shut schools over increased pension contributions and retirement at 66

Headteachers are likely to vote this weekend to ballot for their first-ever national strike – a move that could close thousands of schools this summer.

At its annual conference in Brighton on Sunday, the National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) is expected to call a ballot of its 28,000 members on whether to strike over changes to their pensions.

A national strike would be the first in the association’s more than 100-year history, and would affect millions of children.

The possibility of a strike comes after two of the main teaching unions voted to ballot members for a national strike over pensions earlier this month.

Pension reforms, outlined in a government-commissioned report by the former Labour minister Lord Hutton last month, call for final salary schemes to be scrapped and replaced by career averages.

Under the plans, teachers would pay increased monthly contributions to their pensions , and the retirement age would rise to 66 by 2020. Currently, many headteachers retire at 60.

The government says the cost of paying teachers’ pensions is forecast to rise from about £5bn in 2005 to almost £10bn by 2015 as more staff retire and life expectancy increases.

Russell Hobby, the general secretary of the NAHT, said he would encourage heads to vote for a strike ballot.

“The pension reforms would mean the average headteacher would lose £100,000 to £200,000 in retirement and would pay 50% more in contributions, which could cost them £1,000 more each month,” he said.

“This amounts to a pay cut at a time of rising targets in education. Pensions are one of the attractive rewards of the job, and we have to stand up for this.”

Jessica Shepherd

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