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Bullying and harassment: it's an epidemic

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by ivor_Monkey, Apr 8, 2012.

  1. According to press reports (See Observer 8 April), a survey by the NASUWT confirms that 67% of teachers have been bullied/intimidated at work (usually by senior management) or witnessed such conduct in the last 12 months. A large numbe rof bullied staff go on extedned sick leave and 235 leave the profession.
    This is a scandal and if it occurred in any other profession/industry there would be outrage.
    The evidence on this forum and elsewhere suggests that unions too often are weak/useless to counter the harassment.
    My suggestion is that more pressure needs to be put on unions to act robustly and to counter this attack on its members. Therefore i suggest we name the union that is failing to support a bullied/harassed teacher. So when somebody describes their situation, please feel free to name the union that is not providing you wiht the support you need. of course, if the union is supporting the meber well, then please name that union too. We should then get a picture of the performance of unions.
    There should be no problem in naming unions. There are plenty of websites that name and shame companies (airlines. hotels, retailers etc) that fail to provide proper customer service, So let's get tough with the teacher unions and pressurise them into putting more resources into supporting harassed members. They should offer stronger defence and provide proper legal advice earlier in the process.
    Name them: afterall they should be working for you...


    name those unions
     
  2. According to press reports (See Observer 8 April), a survey by the NASUWT confirms that 67% of teachers have been bullied/intimidated at work (usually by senior management) or witnessed such conduct in the last 12 months. A large numbe rof bullied staff go on extedned sick leave and 235 leave the profession.
    This is a scandal and if it occurred in any other profession/industry there would be outrage.
    The evidence on this forum and elsewhere suggests that unions too often are weak/useless to counter the harassment.
    My suggestion is that more pressure needs to be put on unions to act robustly and to counter this attack on its members. Therefore i suggest we name the union that is failing to support a bullied/harassed teacher. So when somebody describes their situation, please feel free to name the union that is not providing you wiht the support you need. of course, if the union is supporting the meber well, then please name that union too. We should then get a picture of the performance of unions.
    There should be no problem in naming unions. There are plenty of websites that name and shame companies (airlines. hotels, retailers etc) that fail to provide proper customer service, So let's get tough with the teacher unions and pressurise them into putting more resources into supporting harassed members. They should offer stronger defence and provide proper legal advice earlier in the process.
    Name them: afterall they should be working for you...


    name those unions
     
  3. Do you have a link to it?
     
  4. aw27

    aw27 New commenter

    Here's a link to the guardian article about the same
    http://m.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/apr/07/teachers-bullying-workplace-nasuwt-union?cat=education&type=article
     
  5. I agree- I have felt terribly let down and trying to deal with the union added to the sense of stress and isolation. My union told me that they only deal in bullying issues if it is a collective concern, but at the school I worked in people were too afraid to even reply to confidential ofsted questionnaires in case they could be identified. Staff did a private questionnaire but the report remains withheld by the school. if unions surveyed the staff, I am sure they would find many school's are operating in a tyrannical manner- it is heartbreaking to see so many dedicated and caring people have their lives and careers destroyed by very unscrupulous methods being deployed to bring them down. I've seen very young teachers taking on senior roles. They may have excellent potential for the future, but in terms of experience they do not have a clue.
     
  6. In our school the union rep did a survey on 'morale' and the results were NOT good at all. The Head found out about this survey and stated he did not want it published to the staff but we all knew the actual results. Instead, to pacify the union rep he said he would arrange a survey in conjunction with the unions formatt. This was duly submitted to staff and again the results were awful - but guess what - he did not publish them (especially to the GB). Morale is still rubbish!!!
     
  7. I found the NUT rep totally useless at my meeting with the ht and HR concerning the ht's persistent bullying. The HR man,who behaved like a prosecuting barrister towards me, actually threw the union guidelines documentation onto the table and said "Well that's just Union stuff!" My rep said next to nothing throughout, seemed intimidated and left all the talking to me. I want to know why I pay the NUT £18 per month. They really did not help me. I feel very unprotected. The HR bully said he was there for the HT and not me. The Union was there to represent me.
     

  8. Snap. Same union :-(
     
  9. muffinmops

    muffinmops New commenter

    Ive experienced being bullied and persistently undermined by my head of department in front of students, Nothing was sorted out from SMT or union.

    I have come to the conclusion that no one can actually sort it out properly and the only way to cope is to be ready for the bully and confidently stand up to them. Dont be intimidated- disagree with them and amazingly they do back down.

    Some bullies are naturals and I dont think they are even aware they are like it they have just got away with it for too long.. I did consider leaving teaching and sent off an application to become a London cab driver!!! - probably earn more- have you ever seen a poor London cab driver? sit in your cab- no stress, listening to the radio!!!

    Ive since changed my mind and decided I am not going to let an inadequate loud mouth ruin my career that I have worked so hard for. I just continue to do my job as best I can and avoid the culprit as much as possible. Im ready for her at all times and I will give as good as I get because to all other members of staff the issue is menial.

    There are lots of minor incidents that she has done that in isolation seem like nothing but it was the relentless comments, interruptions to my lessons and telling me how to improve my teaching that nearly drove me to insanity and battered my confidence.
     
  10. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I would be interested to know the details of the union that ltd you that they only challenge bullying if if a collective grievance is made. If you don't want to publish the details on the open forum, would you PM me?
     


  11. You see? How can you prove it? The form
    Of bullying I have undergone has been from
    A very well established member of staff. Constant interruptions to my lessons over ridiculously trivial matters designed to make me look as though I am unsupportive, constant nit picking, blOcking in dept meetings, scurrying around to other members of the dept to complain about me, rumour mongering, taking me to task over things I have said, failing to complete tasks I have set them and then pinning the blame on me for them
    Not having received the material in time... The list goes on. And no one believes me. It's impossible to prove unless 1) you catalogue everything and that seems so Petty and trivial and could be seen as bullying as well! And also in isolation all these little things individually are insignificant, but they all add uP
    To a far more sinister picture. ( excuse typos I am
    On my phone)
     
  12. muffinmops

    muffinmops New commenter

    It is so true that you cant prove it and when you mention bits to other staff they dont seem to understand the impact of the relentless incidents.

    From now on I am going to catalogue everything , every little trhing. I am also going to print off every email sent to me by the bully, no matter what it says as there are days when I get so many emails that are irrelevant.

    Guess what though?? After all her constant putting me down since september, My A level results were better than the outstanding experienced teacher who has been trying to control me. I am not one to comapre results and I do support my colleagues at all times, but after the hell Ive been through with her, I had to gloat on my results!!!

    Catalogue every thing.
     
  13. It isn;t true you can;t prove things. of course you can. It is called evidence and remember that you do not need 100% cast iron evidence to prove the offence. Depending upon the offence the threshold may only be a balance of probabilities, which means that you prove the offence even if the evidence indicates they probably did it...You do not need such hard evidence that you exclude any other remote explanation. The facts of the case will usually win the case. Simply collect evidence and the pattern of bullying behaviour will emerge.
    So keep records and log everything wiht date, event, witness etc.That is not bullying and it is not trivial. Just remember, vindictive senior management will probbaly be collecting trivia about your performance, so build your case and don't wait .

    Please mention the union involved in these cases. OK it may not be scientific but let's see which unions are not pulling their weight.
    Here's the Observer link
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/2012/apr/07/teachers-bullying-workplace-nasuwt-union

     
  14. It is almost impossible to go back and find the evidence especially when it wasn't recorded because you didn't recognise it at the time..... it will all be 'hearsay and circumspection;
     
  15. That is why it is important to be vigilant. If you are on the receiving end of a series of unfounded criticisms then you start logging the events.criticisms.
    If having escaped the school nd you ahve no documentaiton, and intend to make a formal complaint etc, then lodge a subject access request and get the documents from the school. It will cause them a bit of grief and cost you a maximum of £10.
    But if you have no intention of purusing the case, then move on, enjoy your freedom, and remain vigilant as you enjoy the next stage of your career.


     
  16. It's interesting that the NASUWT published this as they were useless in helping me. In fact I got told there was no evidence I was being bullied. I have now left teaching and lost all confidence in my ability. I only lasted 4 months on probation
     
  17. You can prove it, and there are plenty of bullying managers brought to justice in other professions. It doesn't happen in teaching. I think it's going to take a few high profile bullying cases to be fought and won, through a lawyer, in teaching in order to turn the tide. I can't think of one person who has been a bullied teacher who would be willing to stick their neck out on the line like that.



    Is it the union's job to sort out cases of bullying? I was under the impression it was their job to ensure all procedures have been followed, and to pass on teachers to suitable lawyers who can offer advice. And I think you might find that it's all unions equally, and there isn't one union that is particularly poor at proving cases of bullying.



    It's just to attractive to a bullied teacher to take a compromise agreement / out of court settlement and bow out and try and rebuild their career elsewhere, especially as there are often mental health issues associated with situations like this and they generally just want it to be over so they can recover.



    It's too difficult to find proof against a bullying head as well, although not impossible. Heads are usually brilliant at finding more numerous and more convincing evidence against you being a poor teacher. In the current teacher bashing political climate, that adds even more weight to their side of the argument. "I'm not a bully, you're just ****," is 100 times easier to prove.



    I blog about this because I feel so strongly about it, I hope in part that the blog might centralise all the opinion and information on this subject and that that might change things for the better, The Edudicator Blog
     
  18. If anyone would like to work with me on this - I would appreciate it. I am building up an extensive corpus of evidence of bullying and harassment - and union response (or lack thereof). Here's the problem - VERY few teachers are prepared to actually DO anything. For every ten who have promised to get in touch - only one actually has.There are innumerable postings citing barbaric behaviour by SLT - but a real lack of willingness to DO anything except complain how harsh things are. Don't get me wrong - I understand the fear factor, the perceived and real threat to careers, and I know bullies exploit feelings of powerlessness. What I am hoping to get are genuine offers - in total confidence - via pm and then email - of cases of abuses of power in the workplace that can be published. I know most teachers are too frightened except live in fear; I know many of the "old hands" on these boards genuinely believe "nothing can be done". If that is your belief - then that's understandable.But for those of you who DO want to DO something to contribute to raising this problem publicly - then DO get in touch. For those of you who don't feel this is either feasible or desirable, then suggest some practical ways to fight back against the bullies.
     
  19. I think I may be a victim of this type of behaviour but, as previously said, the fact that things are so difficult to prove makes it hard to come forward.
    This is my situation:
    I lost three pieces of Controlled Assessment work - totally my fault and responsibility and I accept that fully. My students completed new tasks, in line with the exam board guidelines, the work was marked and moderated a day before the extended deadline I had been given and, as far as I was aware, that was it.
    About a week later, a member of SLT came over to me for a 'chat.' The upshot of the chat was that I had seriously dropped the ball and should it happen again, I would face competency procedures. I explained that everything was sorted and gave assurances that it would not happen again.
    This 'chat' happened on a Friday and the nature of this colleague's comments did reduce me to tears. He asked to see my current Yr 10 controlled assessments for his own 'peace of mind' and I told him he could have them all on the Monday. He had them for two weeks and as far as I can tell did nothing with them but leave them in a corner of his office - it feels like he gave me a hoop to jump through, I did and so he was satisfied. I assumed that was the end of it.
    Following the initial chat, another colleague, who I know is a very close personal friend of this member of SLT, came into the area where I work and was asking me how I was and if I had a good weekend. She came over half an hour earlier than normal and, as a result, missed a duty. There is simply no way either of these things would happen without some form of prompting and so I can only assume that he has discussed our conversation with her. This puts me in a very difficult situation as I have to write some performance management targets for her and yet she is aware that someone thinks I am incompetent.
    Despite this, I put it behind me and got on with it - I know I am not incompetent and I refuse to let someone make me think I am.
    As a school, we organise a number of overseas trips, one of which I am supposed to be leading this year. These trips obviously require a certain amount of preparation and fundraising but as it is an established trip the majority of the paperwork is already in place. Three hours before the parents of the students going on this trip were due to arrive, I was called into a meeting with the Head and told that SLT had passed a unanimous vote that whilst I was capable of leading the trip whilst overseas, I was not to have anything to do with it prior to departure. When I explained that this was not a reasonable directive, the Head basically said I had to follow it or the trip would be cancelled. Again, I can only assume that this particular member of SLT has said that I am incapable of fulfilling my duties appropriately.
    It would appear that I am good enough to give up my holidays (the trip is run during the Easter break) I am not good enough to support students during the school term.
    The trouble is, I now don't know what to do. My personal instinct is to have it out with this person and ask them what their issue is with my work. Yes I made a mistake but I cannot believe that this will define my career. I get good results, my students hit their targets and I am a supportive member of the team with regards to sharing resources etc.
    Due to a lot of complicated issues, I wasn't a member of a union (I have since rectified this) but I just don't know who to talk to.
    A lot of my feelings are based on assumptions rather than genuine hard and fast information and my biggest fear is that someone will just shoot me down telling me I am being paranoid and insecure.
    A rambling mess of a post I know but I am so very unsure of how to proceed. No-one ever tells you how to cope with these situations as part of your training - maybe PGCE courses should have a module on it?
     
  20. In the case of a really nasty tyrant of a HT the NUT were brilliant for me and several other colleagues. Some teachers had already left but were unable to persue constructive dismissal because of lack of evidence. However, from then on we were advised to keep logs and then when HT did not follow proper procedures as well it meant the unions had evidence, resulting in CAs arranged and HT eventually removed!
    I think from what is said the unions can't act on the drip-drip bullying as there is nothing concrete for them to act on, there has to be something proveable, or as in my case, a procedure offence before they can act.
     

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