Staff at a private school charging up to £6,000 per pupil will be striking over pay later this month.

National Education Union (NEU) members at Ballard School in New Milton will be walking out for five days. 

In what is the first strike action in the school’s history, union reps say pay has not kept up with rising costs.

Following a ballot of its members in which 84 per cent voted for strike action with a turnout of 81 per cent, the union has now announced strikes on June 20, 27 and 28 and July 8 and 9.

It says that pay has fallen behind inflation significantly over the past 10 years and that pay rates at the school for most staff are below those in the state sector.

Union representatives also claim that the school has run a surplus this year with its finances being in a “very healthy state” while having £8 million in reserves.

James Blake, NEU Rep at Ballard School, said: “Ballard staff are a dedicated team, providing an amazing education for the pupils in our care.

“Prices have gone up significantly in all areas including food, fuel, rents and mortgage payments, and our pay has not kept up.

“The lack of communication or meaningful discussion with governors has left us feeling undervalued and with no choice but to take action in support of our claim.”

In 2020 the school left the Teacher’s Pension Scheme, instead opting for a less favourable scheme, which the Union says further reduces the pay package for its teacher members.

In March the school implemented a four per cent pay rise for staff, which the Union says does little to address the historic real-term pay cuts that staff have faced.

According to its website, the pupil fees per term range from £3,290 for pupils in reception to £6,055 for those in Year 9 and above.

Rates of inflation have soared in recent years, reaching as high as 14.2 per cent RPI or 9.6 per cent CPI in October 2022.

NEU regional officer Craig Arden said the school has refused the possibility of a pay increase.

He said: “Our members do not want to strike but feel they have no choice.

“We have met with the chair of governors to try to resolve this dispute but the school has refused to entertain any possibility of increasing the pay award."