Redbridge headteacher calls on colleagues to vote for a strike

A headteacher is urging his colleagues to vote for a strike which will be the first of its kind in more than a century, amid fears pension changes will put pupils’ long term futures at risk.

Kevin Baskill, head of Christchurch Primary, Wellesley Road, Ilford, says staff need to think of the “bigger picture”.

He said: “It’s about the long term future of pupils – they need excellent teachers year after year.”

He added there was a risk teachers would move to the private sector.

Today (Thursday) a ballot will be launched by the National Association of Headteachers (NAHT). It could see them join other teaching unions carrying out industrial action.

NAHT has members as heads or senior staff in nearly every Redbridge school and the ballot is the first in its 114-year history.

Mr Baskill, who sits on the national executive of NAHT, said it was a “shock” to see the strength of feeling among other headteachers on government plans to increase pension contributions, but reduce the amount paid out.

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A headteacher for 22 years, he added: “It is totally unprecedented. I have never known a headteacher consider striking before.

“It is not about my pension, but my staff.”

If a yes vote is returned by NAHT members, the heads could join teaching staff from the National Union of Teachers (NUT) and a raft of public sector unions for a national day of action on November 30.

It is believed that could be more damaging than action in June that saw most Redbridge schools either closed or partially closed.

Bob Archer, from Redbridge NUT, said he hopes a day of lobbying on October 26 will see a representative from every school in the borough travel to Westminster to meet their MPs over the pensions issue.

“Unless the government listens to us it is likely to be a big day on November 30,” said Mr Archer.

“This time it won’t just be the teachers striking but everybody – headteachers, cleaners, dinner ladies.”

Members of the NUT and the Public Commercial Sector Union will be in High Road, Ilford on October 8 and 20 asking the public to sign a petition against the pension changes.

The NAHT ballot closes on November 9.