UK Head Teachers Come Under Fire as Plans to Strike Continue

Thousands of head teachers in England and Wales have voted in favor of strike action over changes to pensions, writes Katherine Sellgren at the BBC.

Normally, industrial action is the vestige of card-carrying teachers. This will be the first time the heads have walked out. Testament to the anger felt over the impact of pension reforms.

“The decision of head teachers to join the planned public sector strike on November 30 is a disappointment,” says the Telegraph.

“It is particularly unfortunate that they have voted to strike when concessions recently offered by the Government to protect the pensions of public sector workers within 10 years of retirement would benefit many heads.”

As millions of workers in the private sector, whose pensions have been hit by a combination of falling equity markets, high commissions and the closure of final salary schemes, are near dire straits, have Head Teachers, who aren’t the worst off, earned the moral right to strike over their lower pension income?

“Heads have a duty to the children in their schools and to the parents who will be inconvenienced by these closures; many will need to make extra child care arrangements or take time off work. How any of this will help boost education standards or assist the economy at this perilous moment is anyone’s guess. Nor will it change the demographic trends that have made pension reform inevitable, however much the public sector unions might try to block it. We are entitled to hope that head teachers, of all people, would understand these realities and think again.”

UK teachers voted on staging the largest industrial action ever that’s planned for at the end of this month. The National Association of Head Teachers, which represents 28,000 head teachers and assistant head teachers across the UK, will stage its first walkout in its 114-year history.

Russell Hobby, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said while the union had a yes vote, it hoped to avoid calling industrial action.

“I have spoken at length to many school leaders and not one has been anything other than upset and sometimes downright angry that they have been forced into this situation as the only way to stand up for the profession and standards.

“We would like to avoid action if at all possible and will be negotiating intensely and in good faith in the run up to the 30th.”