Teachers at a historic boarding school in the Ribble Valley are striking over a pensions row.

National Education Union members from Stonyhurst College are striking today about their pension contributions rising.

The teachers at the Catholic boarding school set up a picket line from 7.30am to 9.30 in the the first of six days of action.

A teacher who asked not to be named said: “The headteacher John Browne and governors have repeatedly ignored us, betrayed us and exploited us, and we’ve had enough.

“Taking away our teachers’ pension, or making us take a big salary drop, is not acceptable.

“Enough is enough.”

The school states that mandatory increase in the Teachers Pensions Scheme which came into force in September 2019 requires a 43 per cent increase in employer contributions – at a cost of £320,000 a year.

Following a two-year negotiation period, school bosses say they have proposed a hybrid option to remain in the TPS with the school paying the pre-2019 16.48 per cent contribution and teachers paying the additional contribution of 5.2 per cent which, with agreed pay increases of at least 2 per cent for the next two years, the school say would be funded for them.

The NEU say that negotiations broke down when the members voted in March by a significant majority for industrial action after they say school managers and governors have refused to engage in any meaningful discussions about the issue.

Strikes are also scheduled for next week on Wednesday and Thursday and the following week on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday.

A spokesperson for the NEU said: “It really is a momentous occasion when independent school staff take strike action, and it is testament to the severity of the issue.

“Our hard-working members are committed to the success of Stonyhurst’s pupils and the future of Stonyhurst College. They feel that they have no alternative but to strike, in order to protect the future of the College as well as their own families.

“NEU members desperately wish to resolve the matter amicably but believe that changes in the TPS would be a significant blow in the school’s ability to attract and retain quality teaching staff.

“For many NEU members working in the independent sector, detrimental changes to the TPS is a deal-breaker.”

Mr Browne, headmaster of Stonyhurst and Ian Murphy, headmaster of Stonyhurst Saint Mary’s Hall, said they were ‘disappointed’ at the strike action but say that the additional costs of the TPS were ‘unsustainable’.

In a joint statement, they said: “We are disappointed that a number of Stonyhurst College and Stonyhurst Saint Mary’s Hall teachers are taking strike action on Thursday 15th April, following a ballot by the National Education Union (NEU).

“The additional costs of the TPS are unsustainable for Stonyhurst without a further increase in school fees or further cost restructuring, both of which would significantly impact our offer to pupils and their families.

“Our children and young people are, as ever, our key priority and a bespoke schedule has been designed for both schools during this time, and pupils will attend as usual.

“We are grateful to our staff who have done so much to support our pupils throughout the past challenging year and we are saddened to be in this position despite extensive consultation efforts.”

Staff at Westholme School in Blackburn took strike action over the issue last year.