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Unions 2000 Monday, 24 April, 2000, 15:29 GMT 16:29 UK
Schools stress inquiry urged
The conference heard concerns over bullying head teachers
The conference heard concerns over bullying head teachers
By Sean Coughlan at the NUT conference in Harrogate

Teachers have attacked the government for causing stress and workplace bullying.

The National Union of Teachers, meeting for its annual conference in Harrogate, heard claims on Monday that the Labour government was to blame for the rise in staffroom stress.

Teachers complained that inspections, excessive workload and now performance pay were making unfair demands on them.

In some cases this had pushed teachers to suicide.

ron haycock
Ron Haycock: Proposed resolution
Ron Haycock from Waltham Forest in London said that government policy was responsible for "the extremes of anguish and depression" experienced by many teachers.

He said performance pay was the "supreme charter for favouritism and isolation".

And Gill Lee from Lewisham in London attacked the inspection system as "de-motivating, de-moralising and deadly".

If it had been inspections that had so far "personified stress", performance pay was now the "spectre at the feast", she said.

Threat of action

Executive member Simon Jones reported to the conference a case where a teacher had been bullied by a head teacher for refusing to spy on fellow staff - and who had been told by the head, on the death of the teacher's partner, that the absence of the spouse was a "distraction that had been taken out of the way of teaching".

In response, the conference passed a resolution calling for a government inquiry into stress.

It demanded that members be allowed to take collective action against bullying head teachers - which, in the most extreme cases, could include teachers refusing to work under a head who refused to change his or her management style.

The union's general secretary, Doug McAvoy, also raised the prospect of a large number of industrial tribunal cases concerning stress claims.

Last year, a teacher won 47,000 in an out-of-court settlement in a stress claim and the union says there are over 120 cases pending - with 30 of them "well advanced".

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Ron Haycock
"All teachers have been performing miracles."
See also:

17 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
17 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
01 Oct 99 | UK Education
10 Dec 99 | UK Education
29 Feb 00 | UK Education
23 Mar 00 | UK Education
12 Apr 00 | UK Education
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