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Workplace abuse, the GTC and its successor

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Gardening Leaves, Aug 10, 2011.

  1. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    A common theme in posts relating to workplace abuse (bullying) is the impotence of individuals to stand up to the combined will - I would say 'corruption' - of Headteachers, governing bodies and employers, whether or not they are local authorities.
    In addition to recourse in Law, through Tribunals or through the courts, teachers should be able to have confidence that their prescribed regulator will investigate complaints of professional misconduct with integrity. Workplace abuse, or 'bullying', meets the criteria for 'professional misconduct' and is in breach of the Code of Conduct.
    The present regulator, the GTC(E), fails to regulate the teaching profession in an independent, unbiased way. It fails to investigate complaints of bullying from individuals and is open to influence from employers. Individuals are left with nowhere to go other than to find a new job or stay and find themselves the victims or some of the worst excesses we have read about in these forums. Ultimately there is no accountability for bullying Heads when employers are willing to collude with them.
    Following my complete exoneration by the GTC - a case that <u>was</u> properly investigated by them - I submitted complaints of professional misconduct to the GTC relating to my bullies. To exemplify would be to risk identifying myself. However, I will say that each complaint was meticulously and comprehensively evidenced and included third party statements. Additionally, I identified the precise location of additional evidence, the disclosure of which had been refused to me and named numerous witnesses that should be interviewed.
    My former employer (in this case, an LEA) involved its legal department, which put heavy pressure on the GTC to drop the complaints. The GTC dropped them without any attempt to consider the evidence in support, nor to make any evidence to seek out the additional evidence. It breached its own procedures in doing so and did not follow its prescribed investigatory protocols.
    The demise of the corrupt GTC is long overdue. The Education Act will shortly gain Royal Assent and the GTC will cease to exist from April 2012. My Member of Parliament, who is also a Minister, believes there is no mileage in chasing up my complaint with individuals at the GTC. However, there is every opportunity to ensure that whichever body succeeds it as the prescribed regulator is required to act with integrity.
    My MP is in communication with Michael Gove concerning my experience and the status of the new regulator. He is putting pressure on him to ensure the new regulator is 'fit for purpose'. With echoes of the plea made by John Whittingdale (Chair, Culture, Media and Sports Committee) in the recent 'hackgate' debate for a PCC replacement, teachers also need a regulator that is 'strong and independent'. In a profession where workplace abuse is endemic, Headteachers and employers need to know that the regulator will investigate complaints of bullying without fear or bias and that they will be held accountable for their actions.
    There is not often an opportunity to influence for the better but there is currently a window in which you may do so. Please will you write to your MPs and/or directly to Michael Gove and make the case for the new regulator's role in combating workplace abuse?
     
  2. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    A common theme in posts relating to workplace abuse (bullying) is the impotence of individuals to stand up to the combined will - I would say 'corruption' - of Headteachers, governing bodies and employers, whether or not they are local authorities.
    In addition to recourse in Law, through Tribunals or through the courts, teachers should be able to have confidence that their prescribed regulator will investigate complaints of professional misconduct with integrity. Workplace abuse, or 'bullying', meets the criteria for 'professional misconduct' and is in breach of the Code of Conduct.
    The present regulator, the GTC(E), fails to regulate the teaching profession in an independent, unbiased way. It fails to investigate complaints of bullying from individuals and is open to influence from employers. Individuals are left with nowhere to go other than to find a new job or stay and find themselves the victims or some of the worst excesses we have read about in these forums. Ultimately there is no accountability for bullying Heads when employers are willing to collude with them.
    Following my complete exoneration by the GTC - a case that <u>was</u> properly investigated by them - I submitted complaints of professional misconduct to the GTC relating to my bullies. To exemplify would be to risk identifying myself. However, I will say that each complaint was meticulously and comprehensively evidenced and included third party statements. Additionally, I identified the precise location of additional evidence, the disclosure of which had been refused to me and named numerous witnesses that should be interviewed.
    My former employer (in this case, an LEA) involved its legal department, which put heavy pressure on the GTC to drop the complaints. The GTC dropped them without any attempt to consider the evidence in support, nor to make any evidence to seek out the additional evidence. It breached its own procedures in doing so and did not follow its prescribed investigatory protocols.
    The demise of the corrupt GTC is long overdue. The Education Act will shortly gain Royal Assent and the GTC will cease to exist from April 2012. My Member of Parliament, who is also a Minister, believes there is no mileage in chasing up my complaint with individuals at the GTC. However, there is every opportunity to ensure that whichever body succeeds it as the prescribed regulator is required to act with integrity.
    My MP is in communication with Michael Gove concerning my experience and the status of the new regulator. He is putting pressure on him to ensure the new regulator is 'fit for purpose'. With echoes of the plea made by John Whittingdale (Chair, Culture, Media and Sports Committee) in the recent 'hackgate' debate for a PCC replacement, teachers also need a regulator that is 'strong and independent'. In a profession where workplace abuse is endemic, Headteachers and employers need to know that the regulator will investigate complaints of bullying without fear or bias and that they will be held accountable for their actions.
    There is not often an opportunity to influence for the better but there is currently a window in which you may do so. Please will you write to your MPs and/or directly to Michael Gove and make the case for the new regulator's role in combating workplace abuse?
     
  3. Excellent post.
    Many times I've considered writing to my MP on a whole variety of school issues and have never got round to it. But workplace bullying in schools seems to be on the increase, and sometimes seems to be tied in with the 'ofsted/results' culture.(As well as those idiots from the GTC)
    Perhaps a petition of some sort?
     
  4. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    The 'targets/results' culture exists in many professions, yet only bad leaders need to resort to bullying to realise improvement. There are plenty of examples of Heads who have made successful schools out of weak ones, without resorting to brutalisation of their workforce.
    The problem with petitions is that they take too long and are not practical. A petition needs 100,000 signatures to force a Commons debate. However, the character and brief of the new professional regulator is being designed now. I am assured that Michael Gove is determined that 'professional standards' in teaching should be upheld by all employees. We have a chance to urge that the new regulator must be beyond bias or influence, if it is to secure the confidence of teaching professionals and prevent bullying Heads from hiding behind the skirts of their employers.
     
  5. jellycowfish

    jellycowfish New commenter

    I'm probably being thick here, but my workplace bullying (which still continues towards other members of staff) that resulted in me losing my job went nowhere near the GTC. The outcome was decided by LA, HT and Govs, and when I contacted GTC, they knew nothing about it. I'm all for an impartial regulator, but that wouldn't have helped me in my case. My MP, whom I've contacted on 2 or 3 occasions regarding my situation, feels it's not his remit to take my issues further. I suppose I'm asking how the GTC's successor would get involved with these sorts of cases in order to investigate the issues?
     
  6. aw27

    aw27 New commenter

    Gardening Leaves - I wholeheartedly agree with everything you say but I personally think that even before it gets to the level of complaints to the GTC etc, one of the major barriers to teachers being able to stand up for themselves legally or to any other body of authority, is that an awful lot of workplace bullying ends, on the recommendation of the unions may I add, with the teacher escaping a horrendous situation (often as soon as possible before it permanently destroys their health) by signing an agreement saying they will never mention anything that led to the situation happening in the first place.
    On top of this is the fact that they cannot legally mention that they even signed an agreement for fear of losing the settlement/compensation money they need to live on.
    They are therefore often not in a position to take any legal action against their employer because this is usually the only way out of the job with some money to survive on and a reference - something that it is virtually impossible to get more work without.
    I would imagine if a hypothetical person who had to sign one of these agreements, suddenly won the lottery and could pay back the compensation and tell the world - then they WOULD no doubt be shouting it from the rooftops, and complaining to anyone who would listen, not just their local MP...
    So Headteachers and employers know they are pretty much bullet proof, as long as they don't employ millionaires. [​IMG]
    Its a dreadful situation and needs to be fixed, but I cant see that ever happening, sadly.
     
  7. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    If you were accused of misconduct which, if proved, would have been likely to result in your dismissal, your employer had a statutory obligation to report your case to the GTC.
    It has always been possible for any individual to make a formal complaint of misconduct against any teacher, direct to the GTC. The GTC would only take up the complaint if the complainant could demonstrate that the complaint had exhausted the employer's complaints procedure and had been dealt with unfairly. In my case, I was able to evidence that, at every stage, including eventually dumping the evidence in front of the Director of Education in a meeting, there had never been any intention of investigating my complaints of misconduct against my bullies.
    The GTC and its successor, are the prescribed regulators for the teaching profession. They have a statutory duty to uphold 'professional standards' and to investigate complaints of misconduct. It's there in plain black and white in their Terms of Reference.
    The GTC does not exercise its statutory obligations in a fair and unbiased way. It is happy to slap the wrist - or worse - of individual teachers referred to it by the employer. However, it will not meet its obligation to investigate teachers referred by individuals if this is not in the interest of the employer. With my own eyes I have seen the documentary evidence that the Legal department of a local authority was able to put pressure on the GTC to drop the complaints of misconduct I referred to them. I supplied meticulous evidence; those about whom I complained offered no evidence, except constant denial.
    My MP agrees with me that this is not acceptable. He cites it as one of the reasons why the GTC has been abolished and knows that many good teachers are being lost to the profession because of workplace bullying. There is an opportunity now, while the new regulator is being created, to ensure that it MUST operate without fear or favour and cannot be influenced by employers. How are you getting along now, jellycowfish? Are you managing to put your dreadful experience behind you and start to rebuild? I wish you well.xxx


     
  8. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I agree with you that too many cases end in compromise agreements. Whilst this may be in the best interest of the member I suspect that unions also take it as the easy way out for themselves. Getting a CA is a much cheaper option than taking a case to Tribunal.
    I ended up signing a CA, because I was judged too ill to defend myself in a hearing. (I was well and truly 'out of it' at that time.) The union encouraged this. However, I did not realise that a representative could have gone to the hearing on my behalf. My specialist lawyer was shocked that I had not been advised to go to Tribunal by the union, rather than sign a CA. He said that it would have been 'Easy money' for me.
    My own CA does not gag me too badly. In any case, the employer has broken its terms so mnay times that I no longer feel bound by it, anyway. It means that, although it prevented me from going to Tribunal, it has not stopped me from taking legal action for harassment. However, I have recently seen one from another poster in which the employer has attempted to block ALL rights to recourse in law, including specifically naming actions under the Protection from Harassment Act. Fortunately she has a good employment solicitor who pointed out that no employer can ask anyone to sign away their right to report a criminal offence which, of course, harassment is. It's like getting a burglary victim to sign away their right to report a break-in!!
    The reason why it is SO important to put pressure on Michael Gove to ensure that the new regulator will be 'strong and independent' and will investigate legitimate complaints of workplace abuse is that no Compromise Agreement (or 'gagging clause' in a severence agreement) can prevent any individual from making such a complaint.
    The relevant law is the Public Interest Disclosure Act - in short-hand, the 'whistle-blowing' Act. Section 43J of this Act specifically states that, providing the disclosures are both 'qualifying' and 'protected' under this Act, an individual is protected, gagging clauses in severance agreements notwithstanding.
    Of course, anyone considering making a complaint to the regulator should take advice first, to double-check their disclosures are 'qualifying'. However, reporting workplace abuse is 'qualifying' because it is in breach of civil law, which is one of the criteria.
    A full transcript of the Act, together with FREE support and advice from legal experts in 'whistle-blowing', may be found at Public Concern at Work. www.pcaw.org.uk
    We have a real opportunity now to ensure the government creates a new regulator that does enable bullied teachers to hold their bullies to account.
     
  9. Many years ago, it was the turn of my Y10 tutor group (14-19 school) to take an assembly. Naturally they were all terrified at the prospect. It went well -- and the perception of fear failed to materialise. The first spoken line, addressing their peers: "If you have been bullied, or know of someone who has been bullied, please raise your hand..." Unsurprisingly, a forest of hands appeared. "That's most of you" noted our brave tuttee. "Now, will all the bullies please raise their hands...?" Faces swivelled left and right, but no hands were raised. No surprise there, either. The next line in the script had been censored: "point to someone you know who is a bully".That was not acceptable. Bullies survive (even thrive) via anonymity, or an unwillingness to challenge. Any similarity to urban rioters - masked and hooded???
    If you know the name Rosa Parks, you will recognise a famous first step - but it wasn't a world-shattering vision to her at the time when she famously took that defiant first step. She just knew what she felt needed doing.
    So many great teachers have had careers sacrificed because of bullies. And it's not a phenomenon confined to teaching: it's also endemic in the NHS, that other famously caring profession.And what an irony exists -- many bullied teachers live in a climate of fear, and impotent at the same time: in these very forums, teachers proffer "advice" -- keep your head down, don't risk reprisals, just hope you can move to another job...." And yet bullying is against the law. Let me reiterate that: bullying in the workplace is illegal Yet the problem persists. Gardening Leaves provides an eloquent exposition of her experiences. Something is very very very wrong in our system. If you are touched by what she has said, don't bother to comment here: instead, direct your comments at your union leadership, at your MP, at Michael Gove himself. Rosa Parks took her stand (well, she didn't - but that's the point!!) and hundreds of others were inspired to take action. Bullies thrive on anonymity. Yet we live in the information age. If you have similar experiences - share them with those who purport to be able to take action. If nothing happens, ask them why they were impotent. For evils like bullying to persist, it's only necessary for good people to do nothing.
     
  10. jellycowfish

    jellycowfish New commenter


    The HT in my last place thrives <u>despite</u> LA and Govs knowing that she's a bully. CoG's phrase 'she has to be allowed to run the school in the way she sees fit' when complaints were made.
    I was encouraged to take a CA because I was more likely to be employable if I hadn't been dismissed from my post. Despite 'winning' my Disciplinary (ie given final warning rather than dismissed) I was refused entry back into school, while HT and CoG tried (and succeeded) to conjure up more 'complaints' which were going to be taken to another Disciplinary where I know the Govs would have backed the HT, given me another warning which would have led to dismissal. The initial accusation was not, and could not be proved - as it didn't actually happen! - hence the reason why it was not reported to GTC (HT obviously knew they would have told her where to get off). Union tried and failed to make any headway with HT, Gov or LA. Director of Education fobbed all complaints off to Complaints dept, who - surprise surprise, were the same people in the LA who were backing the HT. MP not interested.
    Can't prove HT has blacklisted me in Authority, but nearly 40 apps have resulted in not even being short listed. Still jobless, supporting 3 children, ex pays sod all. I did nothing wrong, yet am left in this pathetic situation.
     
  11. jellycowfish

    jellycowfish New commenter

    Also meant to say - put on Gardening Leave for 6 months while 'new complaints' were <strike>conjured up </strike>reported.
     
  12. aw27

    aw27 New commenter

    "no employer can ask anyone to sign away their right to report a criminal offence which, of course, harassment is."
    Gardening Leaves - I take your point here about it being illegal to tell someone they can't take action, and as for the CAs they do now state that you cannot sue under each and every individual act, in addition to not being able to go to tribunal. I think the point is not that it is saying you CANNOT sue under these acts but that you are accepting the money in return for AGREEING not to, and if you choose to do so in future you must pay back the money you were given. Its a choice rather than a legal enforcement, I believe.
    I think this sums up the problem. No matter what avenue you take it appears that you end up losing out: Fight=blacklisted as a troublemaker and unemployable; Resign=no money/reference and unemployable; CA=cant tell anyone the truth and it still all looks mighty suspicious to new employers as to <u>why</u> you left and leaves you a bit less employable than everyone else (be warned anyone considering one!)
    Its all well and good to make a stand and be the one to start the ball rolling, and those who do have my huge admiration for their courage and strength of character, but when the outcome of it is not being able to feed your kids, pay your rent etc we are all strung up by the short and curlies. Meanwhile the HTs, Govs etc just blithely carry on exactly as they were before with no one else any the wiser as to their antics (and if they are the wiser, then they just dont care as long as results are good).
    If MPs were remotely interested/able to actually DO anything about it, then people would write to them, although I would imagine you'd have more luck with the media/twitter/facebook these days, but as I mentioned before - only if you never need to work again anywhere.
    By the way - I'd always thought Gardening Leaves was a man!!! I wonder why??![​IMG]
     
  13. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    A CA is a legal contract, aw27. It's why anyone considering signing one is required to take independent legal advice before doing so.

    One accepts the money asd compensation for signing away your legal rights to take your employer to (for example) an Employment Tribunal. A CA is just that: a compromise. A good union rep or lawyer will do their best to ensure that as few of their client's rights are signed away as possible. Try as some employers might, they cannot make you sign away your right to report a crime. It's illegal for anyone to try to cover up a crime!!

    Niceties don't come into it: if an employer leaves loopholes in a CA , that's their problem. The considerably generous money paid to me by my employer is helping to pay for a specialist lawyer to sue them!!

    To return to my OP, this is why it is important to ensure teachers have a new regulator who can hold bullies to account professionally. This is aside from legal action and no gagging clause in a CA can prevent a reasobale complaint from being made.
     
  14. I'm wondering if the media might be interested in promoting this cause as it seems quite newsworthy even to those not directly involved. Further re the MP who 'wasn't interested, it might be worth drawing their attention to this thread as they might think again having read what is offered here.

    All good stuff GL. :)
     
  15. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Lead commenter

    Have I missed something somewhere? Are there people here who think that the GTC is in any way shape or form there to "help" "protect" "promote " teachers? It has been yet another stick with which to beat teachers and we even have to pay for it. For just one moment.... naively.... I rejoiced at its proposed demise.... it couldn't come quickly enough for me. However it is just going to be replaced with some other stick with its jobs for the boys......
    How does anyone expect such things to protect teachers from bullying or anything else for that matter?
     

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