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Bullying of teachers by senior staff

Discussion in 'Scotland - education news' started by Spyder101, May 16, 2008.

  3. The new boss of the GTCS hasn't yet mentioned his stance on bullying of staff in Scottish schools. Is it possible he doesn't know it is a very real issue both for targetted individuals and for the entire staff in schools where there is a bullying ethos. Maybe Tes could ask him for a statement.

    Effectively dealing with the issues - providing real and effective training and a totally independent investigation process in bullying cases would make a big difference. The important thing here is 'totally independent'.

    Lets think about it. Who works for the GTCS? Why do they work there ?

    Oh - how do people get appointed to the GTCS ?

    Is it yet another old boys network who work in partnership with bullying local authorities to make examples of individuals as a threat to us all?
    How do workplace bullies operate ? What advantage do they have if bullies work as a partnership between departments, schools or agencies ?

    Another plan dashed !!!!

    <h3>Daily Record story "Worst Teacher in Scotland" </h3><h3>Teachers
    being bullied by there seniors is clearly a big problem in schools -
    Are you safe? Is that all that's important to you?
  4. mae_west

    mae_west New commenter

    Why not visit the website and find out. The teachers are elected, and there are a lot of SERVING teachers on the GTCS.

  5. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    The GTCS is indeed elected by teachers and a new Council will be elected in 2009. If you want to get involved then look out for notices in the education press re this.

    That said, I think the GTCS is a distraction re this issue. The way to deal with bullying is to involve your trade union and use your employer's "Fair Treatment at Work" policy to nail the bullies.

  6. Dominie - Mae - I've just had a look at the GTCS site - I was not impressed by the procedures and if you think about it, who is going to put themselves forward for membership ? I imagine people who are looking for self advancement are the people who would go for it. Are these people going to find against the employers or would that be like shooting themselves in the foot ?

    From the site it seems to be that in cases involving competency where they have been involved after a person has been sacked then they will effectively rubber stamp the employers decision and add further penalty. It the 'Worst teacher' case it seems that the GTCS role is limited to listening to employer V person sacked evidence. I have added my opinion on the other thread.
    re the 'Fair treatment at work' policy (do you have any link) I imagine that it will be similar to other Dignity at Work and anti bullying and harassment policies.
    These policies generally read well and the spirit and intention is good. THey fall down when it comes to the investigation proceedures which are internal and totally biased in favour of the more senior person. If the bully is more senior than the target, the proceedure is actually abusive.
    <h3>Dignity at work policy - Who has read it ? - Why everyone should.</h3><h3>'Kangaroo courts' -- Never ! -- Our systems are both fair and reliable.</h3>are relevant links.

    <h3>Thinking of becoming Union Rep, but need advice first... help!</h3>
    also provides an interesting perspective on how in bullying environments, the unions can be ineffective.

  7. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    I am acquainted with most of the teachers who represent secondary teachers on the GTCS. I can vouch for their independence and integrity. When a teacher is brought to the GTCS on disciplinary, competence or other grounds (appeal against refusal to grant SFR) they ALWAYS get a fair hearing.
    The issue you imply about the competence of managers is a fair one. Head teachers are unfairly over-represented on the GTCS yet they are not subject to its competence procedures. Those HTs who are exposed as hopeless are usually shifted to a desk job with the local authority rather than subjected to competence or disciplinary procedures. There is the added complication that many HTs are poorly trained and often poorly supported by local authorities. For example, I am told that there is no element of the SQH which deals with employment law or inter-personal relations.

    With regard to the alleged ineffectiveness of the unions, I agree that there can be difficulties in getting action taken against bullies (who are not always senior staff of course) but union involvement is the only way to protect oneself. Isolation is what bullies thrive on.

  8. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    Fife FTAW policy
  9. Thanks for the link - i'll have a look.
    Re the membership at GTCS- the point i am trying to make here is that in a sacking on competence grounds decision, presumably a HT has made the sacking decision supported by their director of education and if bullying was involved then their is a high probability of unfairness in the decision making process due to the target being isolated, discredited and a heavily biased / fabricated case against the target being available as 'proof'. You I imagine will know of major injustices happenning in bullying case. (Or are you of the opinion that the internal investigations are fair and unbiased ?)
    Once out, the hurdles to fight unfair dismissal are huge on most people who are bullied out, whether or not they realise they even have been targetted. Most will not have the fight left in them. If they do, an out of court settlement is the norm. THe bully remains in post - no action taken - they say its proof of their innocence - they become even more arrogant and move onto their next target.

    If a case is then passed to the GTCS as now can happen - the investigation process there is based on listening to the evidence presented by the employer, which will have been used to sack the person (even though it is heavily biased in favour of the employer as the person sacked will normally have been isolated (or moved and messed about) prior to the sacking.
    Even assuming that the people were totally honest and fair at the GTCS hearing, they will not be presented with a fair balance of evidence and they will conveniently not consider that the evidence used in the sacking is inherrently biased as discussed previously.
    The reality is that they are not normal people with no agenda or preconceptions - they are mainly teachers who are wanting to get on - they are not there i imagine for any reason other than self advancement (despite their claims). While there is nothing wrong with looking to get on, it would be unwise for anyone to vote against, particularly their own, employer or prospective employer. I am suggesting that there will be an agenda to rubber stamp the LA's decision and that it will be easy to do that because of the imbalance of the evidence (if it even were to be presented) and the mindset of the people there - HT's must be seen to support HT's otherwise the whole system would fall apart - this makes a mockery of the whole system as we all know that some HT's promote a bullying ethos in their schools and some authorities have been in the media for alledged serious workplace bullying.

  10. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    Perhaps a little harsh Mae? A19PB is understandably suspicious of employer's procedures which are often poorly handled by poorly trained managers (assuming they are competent in the first place which some are not). The ignorance about emploment law in education is shared by many Head Teachers! Cynicism about the GTCS is the product of a lack of knowledge which is common among many (most?) teachers.
    The answer to all this is for teachers to get involved in their unions and get the information they need to protect themselves. Bullies thrive on ignorance as well as isolation.

  11. Mae, i think you are losing the plot here and missing some very important points.
    • The HT in the school would be the person who set the ball rolling and whose evidence would be used to sack - this aspect of your tirade is therefore nit picking and not relevant here.
    • I might be mistaken but my understanding is that the sacking was first then the GTCS became involved. If you read about how the GTCS operates, I think you will find that they cannot become involved till after the person has been sacked in incompetence cases.
    Besides, my main grief here is with the process and not the individual case about which, as you rightly point out, i have little factual knowledge. But on that case, what union was involved (if any).
    • While a teacher can choose to defend, if they have been bullied out, then they are unlikely to have the emotional resources to fight. Besides because of how bullies operate, the evidence the employer will compile will be sufficient to satisfy the balance of probabilities they need to support their case. Targets are isolated, people collude and side with bullies because they are either favoured or scared.
    • as you provided the link to the GTCS site, to now say that i am ignorant of the process is unfair. The site explains the process and the shortcomings are obvious if you are aware of how the employers expedite bullying claims byignoring evidence and being selectiveabout whose account ofevents they choose to believe.
    • As for the membership at the GTCS, my belief is that the primary reason for them being there is for personal advancement despite claims otherwise and some will i imagine have pasts which others might consider suspect.re judging others .- some have other out of school commitments which furthers my opinion about self advancement agendas - How many are paid employees of local authorities? As I have said, even if they are all good and decent people, the process is flawed due to justifiable fear of bias and potential for self interest.
    I get the impression that you don't agree with my stance, I can cope with that. Re your keenness to vouch for the credentials of those at the GTCS, i am sure that in most cases you are right but that actually means a lot less than you imagine. If the process is flawed ....
    You really should read some of the counter bulling threads more thoroughly and with an open mind and understand how workplace bullies rely on deceiving good people.
    a relevant thread might be

    <h3>Schools - Churches - Mostly good people. - an ideal environment ?</h3>
  12. Cross- post
    Just read yours Dominie - thanks for coming to my defence a little.
    My agenda is to promote understanding about workplace bullying and to highlight the shortcomings in the systems in place to protect employees. The GTCS procedures, like the employer's Dignity at Work policies aims read well and might even seem well intended and robust - To me, clearly they are not robust. They are open to abuse in my opinion.
    In the context of workplace bullying, to have what is promoted as an 'respected' independent agency rubber-stamping a bullies destruction of a target serves no-one but the bully who will protest their innocence more loudly and at the same time become more arrogant, all be it with a charismatic smile.

  13. mae_west

    mae_west New commenter

    Dominie - harsh? Not half as harsh as a19 making derogatory comments about people s/he's never met. That's the kind of thing he'd usually describe as bullying except when s/he's doing it.
    Are the teachers you know on the GTCS there to further their careers? Is membership of the GTCS likely to lead to advancement for the teachers involved?

    Think about it, a19 - YOU think that my opinion means less than I imagine? That would be in YOUR opinion, which is, as we all know, so much more important than what anyone else thinks what with you knowing all about people you don't know, processes you aren't involved in.
    Supposing one (or more) of the serving teachers on the GTCS posts on here - how would you justify your stated opinion of them? How do you think your derogatory comments would affect them? Might it make them feel unjustifiably attacked? Might it make them feel they are being bullied by a total stranger?
    You can carry on justifying your behaviour all you like but in my opinion you're no better than the people you constantly imagine or accuse. And my opinion matters every bit as much as yours, regardless of how often you claim otherwise.

  14. Mae - you are assuming I don't know people at the GTCS,
    Regardless of specifics and not talking about the GTCS, Workplace bullies in schools are often superficially charming and so long as you don't become a target, outwardly decent people. This facade allows them to carry out very antiscocial acts against others without themselves being considered as suspects. They are usually clever people who capatalise on their knowledge of how normal people react and they are excellent actors when it comes to deception.
    Because of their personality traits, they move on and up at the expense of others. They need to control and have power over others. Finally, they are able to operate most effectively when they are surrounded by honest decent people who are constrained by their own consciences because they are easy to manipulate
  15. cross post again
    Mae - your opinion does count however you keep suggesting that I have made derogitary remarks about the people at the GTCS - What specifically do you have a problem with ? What do you think that I have said they should have a problem with?
    I have quoted from the TES and given my personal opinion on these quotes - That is surely allowed.

    To suggest that I am bullying them; once again, your entitled to your opinion but as I don't scare or threaten anyone who can't defend themselfves on an equal footing I don't understand your logic.

    I simply want people to consider what I am saying then decide for themselves.

  16. It might be worth you looking at
    being bullied by there seniors is clearly a big problem in schools -
    Are you safe? Is that all that's important to you?
    </h3>A post today describes the behaviour a bully HT who some I am sure would happily support and vouch for and who presumably still runs what is outwardly a good school. What would stop this person serving on a teaching council ?
    On meeting him outside his school say at a headteachers conference, would you know what actually happens in his school or would you believe what a wonderful place it was because of how he describes it ? My guess is that, because you have no reason to disbelieve his account, you would largely leave with a good impression of both the person and the school.

    The worst bullies will state that they do not tollerate bullying behaviours in their schools. The antithesis is true but a lot of people are always fooled . Further, by involving people who are not close to the bullying specifics, the impression they get of the real situation can again be be totally the opposite of the reality. Their false impression then becomes a cog in the bullying machine.
  17. Dominie

    Dominie New commenter

    1. Record everything. Avoid any one - one situations with the HT.
    2. "Talk to the hand". Practice taking control of situations which look like potential bullying scenarios by politely refusing any further contact. "If you continue to speak to me in this way, I will leave." "Your behaviour is going beyond what I consider to be reasonable by a manager. I am going to leave now."
    3. Contact your EIS area office and local secretary. The school rep may be excellent and well clued in but she will be no substitute for full time union officials.
  18. Flyonthewall75

    Flyonthewall75 New commenter

    Unfortunately, such a HT may well be described by HMIE as displaying 'strong leadership'.
    In the current educational climate, successive governments are determined to use education to drive through political policies and initiatives which they believe will benefit the country or at least get them elected / re-elected.
    HMIE, though theoretically independent, appear all too ready to enforce any government policy or initiative no matter how daft, no doubt fearful that if they don't comply they too might get the chop.
    To make its job easier, HMIE has put pressure on LAs to ensure all newly appointed HTs are 'on message', and the introduction of the Scottish Qualification for Headship has gone some way to achieve compliance. What better way to ensure rigid implementation of a 'state theory of learning' than to have a 'quasi-hmie inspector' at the head of every school? The role of the HT is apparently no longer to display critical thinking skills and manage a school for the educational benefit of pupils. It is to manage the school for the benefit of whoever is in political power.
    Any HT raising concerns about any aspect of educational policy, no matter how reasonable, is likely to be warned about their 'negative' attitude. If they persist, they are likely to be bullied out of teaching. The job of a HT is now simply to implement political policies and initiatives and to convince staff and parents that they are the best thing since sliced bread, or at least pretend that they are. If they don't, their head is likely to be on the line.
    Is it surprising then that most LAs are finding it very difficult to recruit HTs? Most teachers who care about education find it very difficult to simply tick boxes, jump through politically-devised hoops and 'put on a show' when faced with the real educational needs of pupils. Of course, there are still some HTs who are prepared to employ traditional management skills and build consensus and a cooperative school team, though I suspect their days are numbered.
    In short, in response to LBR, I suspect schools are now an ideal working environment for bullying HTs to be tolerated, or even valued, by the powers-that-be. Involving your union is important but don't expect unqualified support. Local Association Secretaries can have an all too cosy relationship with senior LA staff. Make sure your friend writes down in detail every incident with exact dates and times. For what it's worth, I've known of a situation in which an entire staff has taken out a grievance against just such a HT and the result was the HT applied successfully for a job in another LA. To be realistic, there is rarely such staff solidarity.
    Perhaps one day we will get back to a situation in which teachers are encouraged to engage in meaningful, constructive educational debate and where differences of academic opinion are not only tolerated but actively encouraged. After all, isn't that in part what education is all about?
    Sadly, I don't think it is going to be any time soon.
  19. a19pb doesn't do advice. He "identifies" bullies by type and advises you not to go to your union. He offers no alternatives other than to use the bully's tactics against them by forming little cliques or to quit the job. Follow the advice above - write everything down, speak to your union (not at school level if this makes you uncomfortable) regularly and make sure you are clear on what you can and cannot do and what the HT can and cannot do.
  20. Thank you for your responses. My friend has been keeping a record of incidents. The main problem is that the HT goes into her classroom on average 3 times per day to check on her. She also goes in during breaks so that she can get her on her own. She reprimands her in front of the class. She will not allow any independent thinking or ideas regarding teaching. My friend is a creative, enthusiastic (was) teacher who shone in her last school (she had to move for family reasons to be nearer parents) but any new ideas are actually forbidden! You really couldn't make it up. If it's not in the prescribed 'scheme', it's just not allowed. The emphasis is on appearance and end-product (some of the pupil work is taken away and typed up neatly by the school secretary!) not on the process of teaching, which is just too 'messy' for the HT. According to previous victims, the HT targets one teacher at a time so this makes the victim more vulnerable and worried that she is somehow at fault. It's an all too common bullying tactic. I'm going to support my friend all the way with this! Thanks again for support. Looks like we'll need it.

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