Teachers at Cathedral School strike over pensions and pay

In November the school introduced a policy which denied them access to the teacher pension scheme.

Teachers in Llandaff are picketing outside Cathedral School for the third time. They are calling for their pay and pensions to be in line with the state sector.

The privately run school introduced a new policy cutting them off from their existing pension scheme. The teachers were asked to choose between the scheme provided by the school or except lower pay in order to keep the current pension.

Catrin Ellis-Owen, the head of sixth form has been teaching in the school for 11 years. She says that she is disappointed, ” Striking is not anything I would ever want to do, but I think it is important that we stand up for our rights, and inform people the reality of what it is like to be a teacher at Cathedral School”.

Catrin says that she loves teaching at the school and has amazing colleagues and it makes her sad that the school doesn’t offer a fair pay. ” We are the best performing school in Wales, and it comes because of excellent, expert teaching and therefore we deserve reasonable pay”.

Some parents and students, arriving at the school supported the strike. Claire Rickard has been teaching in the school for 15 years. Her daughter is also a student there. She says, “Nobody goes into teaching for the salary, but the least we expect is to be paid fairly. All we ask is to be same as the state sector, I hope we find a solution for this, we should be in there preparing our students for their exams”.

The adverts for the school promise a salary the same as the state sector, and access to the pension scheme. Teachers say that the change makes them feel deeply undervalued and that the school hasn’t reached out to negotiate. ” It makes us even angrier that we are not being heard even after going on strike,” says Claire.

A spokesman for Cathedral School told Wales online, “Since November the governors of The Cathedral School have been in consultation with the National Education Union (NEU) regarding changes to the Teachers’ Pension Scheme (TPS). This is following the UK Government’s re-evaluation of employer contributions from 23.68% to 28.68% (having increased contributions from 16.48% in 2019) and the governors’ desire to keep fees affordable in this challenging economic climate.”

The school has an attendance of about 800 students who pay a fee up to £5,300 per term. Despite the large attendance, the school told teachers that they don’t have any money left to spend on salaries.

Rachel Searle has been working at the Cathedral School for nine years, Her husband is also a teacher but at a state school. She says, ” Its weird that we both to do the same job essentially and yet he gets paid more than I do”.

Deputy Head Lawrence Moon says that if the school fails to resolve the issue it would bring the morale of the teachers down, “Teaching isn’t a very well paid profession, we make far less than other sectors, the pension provides a security blanket to the teachers so that they can retire and still be able to look after themselves and their families”.