Teachers at More House School in Frensham returned to the picket lines on Tuesday, continuing their long protest against changes to their pension contributions.
The dispute, ongoing since June, centres around school governors’ decision to cut contributions to teacher pensions from 23.68 to 18.5 per cent.
In a statement, the school governors expressed regret over the latest strike action and defended the school’s decision to reduce contributions, citing financial stability concerns.
But the National Education Union (NEU), representing the striking teachers, said staff will have to fund the difference via reduced take-home pay – equating to a 5.18 per cent pay cut in real terms.
The governors' statement said: “More House School is sorry that some of its teachers have taken strike action over adjustments to their pension contributions.
“We have told them that we believe reducing our contribution to their pensions is the right decision to safeguard the future of More House School. We simply cannot afford to keep the contributions at the current level.”
Mediation talks with the Advisory Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS) have now been proposed by the school to resolve the dispute. But teachers are yet to agree to mediation, with union officials being excluded from talks.
The governors' statement continued: “In the meantime, we want to assure parents and students that More House School continues to deliver some on-site and some off-site educational provision today (Tuesday), for the vast majority of our pupils.
“We have welcomed all boys in years Four to Eight to school, in the usual way, and are delivering online, live-teaching to support older students’ studies.
“The school expects to remain open to as many pupils as possible on any subsequent strike days should they occur.”
A spokesman for the NEU said: "The employer has proposed that ACAS be used to find a resolution to the dispute although the employer has stated that unions should not be invited to take part in this process.
"This seems like an odd position to take as it is the unions that the employer is in dispute with. Unions would happily participate in this process if we were invited to do so.
"The unions have been awarded recognition by the Central Arbitration Committee (CAC) for teachers at the school. The CAC made this award by assessing if teachers would be in favour of this and concluded that they would be.
"The school and unions are starting the process of negotiating the terms of the recognition agreement. Whilst recognition will strengthen the voice of teachers at the school going forward, this will not play a role in settling the current dispute."
The NEU spokesman added parent support for teachers "remains strong", with a further meeting of parents and community members planned for Monday next week.
"We understand that parents have requested meetings with the governors to discuss the issue further but are not aware that these meetings have taken place," he added.