TEACHERS held placards outside their school this morning at the start of a two-day strike over pensions. 

Employees waved signs saying 'hands off our pension' as they picketed at St Edward's School in Oxford, and some will refuse to work again tomorrow. 

A group gathered from about 7am and stood at the entrance on Woodstock Road, making their protest known to motorists during the morning rush hour.

The National Education Union (NEU) said 66 staff members will have the right to strike, but it is not yet clear how many took part.

It was the second strike this year at the private school in Summertown, protesting the school removing staff from the Teachers' Pension Scheme (TPS).

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Diane Wilson, assistant district and branch secretary at the Oxfordshire NEU, said: "Teachers at the school see their pension as deferred salary, set aside to support them after years of service to the students whose lives they have worked hard to enrich.

"They feel angry and insulted that the governors have repeatedly refused to listen to their request to remain in the TPS.

"The teachers reject any offer of an inferior pension - they are simply requesting that which the vast majority of teachers elsewhere have as an accepted condition of their service."

The TPS is a scheme created by the government to define teachers' pension benefits, and last year it announced a huge hike in employer contributions.

The 43 per cent rise, which St Edward’s described as ‘unprecedented’, has fuelled funding pressures across the country.

The government has pledged some cash to help state schools, but not for independent schools.

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Nationally, at least 62 private schools told the government this year that they will be pulling out.

St Edward's consulted staff in June, and has since notified the government that it will withdraw in September 2020.

Chris Jones, chair of governors at the school, said: "I really am terribly sorry that this strike is happening - I wish it wasn't.

"The decision has been taken and executed.

"Teachers have had plenty of say during the consultation and they have the right to strike, but it's not going to lead to anything changing."

The school has delayed the timing of the withdrawal by 12 months, at teachers’ request.

Mr Jones said the new pension scheme will give staff more flexibility and 'attractive' benefits.