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EDITIONS
Unions 2000 Friday, 28 April, 2000, 00:37 GMT 01:37 UK
Teachers want anti-bullying law
Classroom
Many teachers are bullied by colleagues
By Alison Stenlake at the NASUWT conference in Llandudno

Teachers are calling for a new law to ban workplace bullying.

They want the government to introduce legislation to grant teachers "dignity at work" which would impose heavy fines on bullies.

Delegates attending the annual conference of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers (NASUWT) in Llandudno were told that the problem of teachers being bullied was getting worse.

We all of us have the right to be treated as respected professionals.

Ian Draper
Research suggested that one in three teachers had been bullied during the past five years, and that one in seven teachers was currently being bullied.

Ian Draper, a national executive member who proposed the motion, said: "The harassment of teachers by managers and others is the cause of so much stress, depression and anxiety in schools and colleges.

"It is a cancer in the management structure which needs to be eradicated.

"We all of us have the right to be treated as respected professionals.

"We've got to accept that attitudes will only change if acceptable standards of behaviour are backed up by law."

Bullies rewarded

Dick Greenfield, another national executive member, said that pressures such as Ofsted inspections, league tables, and beacon school status were making workplace bullying worse for teachers.

He told of one school where the whole staff had been forced to work every week day during the summer holidays, between 8.30am and 5.30am.

They had been made to decorate classrooms, corridors and pupil toilets, as well as move furniture and equipment.

Staff were only let off these duties if they could produce written confirmation of a family holiday.

In another school, a teacher who had learned of the death of a relative during a parental consultation evening had been forced to go for a drink with the rest of the staff afterwards, instead of going home, because they were a member of senior management.

In cases where the NASUWT had intervened, the bullies had been "rewarded" by being granted enhanced early retirement, or, in one case, by taking up another headship in a neighbouring local education authority, avoiding a discplinary hearing.

Barbara Allen , a teacher from Essex, who has herself been bullied, described how there was such a climate of fear in her school that "my colleagues are too frightened and too demoralised to stick their heads above the parapet" for fellow members of staff who were being bullied.

Leicestershire teacher Tim Beech said that gay and lesbian teachers were particular targets of bullying by parents and pupils as well as staff.

He said repealing Section 28, which prevents local authorities from promoting homosexuality, would help prevent homophobic bullying, which had caused one female union member to take ill health retirement after a "systematic campaign by pupils and parents".

The bullying had included acts such as filling her pockets with cat food.

See also:

28 May 99 | UK Education
17 Jul 98 | UK Education
24 Apr 00 | Unions 2000
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