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Last Updated: Monday, 20 November 2006, 14:33 GMT
Being bullied in the staffroom
When it comes to bullying, teachers say their own colleagues and managers can be some of the worst offenders.

The chief executive of the Teacher Support Network, Patrick Nash, said: "During Anti-Bullying Week we must not forget that some adults, as well as young people, face bullying and harassment in and around school and increasingly online."

The charity says it heard from about 160 teachers who claim they are being bullied, mostly by colleagues, in the first 10 months of this year.

You get colleagues who just lock themselves away
ATL rep

These numbers are small against the backdrop of half a million teachers in 23,000 schools.

But when bullying does happen the results can be very serious.

One Association of Teachers and Lecturers representative at a Lancashire school, who does not wish to be named, said bullying could be the constant wearing away of a person - a gradual attrition of their social confidence.

"A teacher gets called in to the office and is told off about something and it's brought up time and time again - even when that person has resolved the problem.

"You get colleagues who just lock themselves away. They go in, they do their work, they get the job done but they stay completely alone.

"This does not help staff as it makes them workaholics, which increases the stress levels.

"If you appear not to be valued in your job then you try even harder to be valued. This ultimately causes illness and stress related diseases."

HOW TO RESOLVE WORKPLACE BULLYING
Keep a diary
Keep a copy of any evidence including e-mails, letters and memos
Speak to your union rep
Let your line manager know as soon as possible
Complain to the person doing the bullying in writing
Source: Teacher Support Network

The bullying can be quite subtle, with the perpetrator knowing exactly how to tread the line to avoid a complaint or legal proceedings, he added.

He said one teacher claimed to have suffered bullying from the same head teacher for more than a decade.

"For 15 years they just put up with it. They kept themselves separate.

"But now at last they've got a new head teacher and their life has totally changed," he added.

The National Union of Teachers says bullying of teachers by their managers is rare because of the nature of the profession.

But if it does occur it is often the result of a very poor management style rather than a conscious wish to be a bully.

'Make a fuss'

"Some head teachers for example are not sufficiently secure in their role and they adopt a bullying attitude because they think that is the way to encourage people to do what is needed.

"But most head teachers believe they are leading a team of professionals and are willing to listen to a range of ideas," an NUT spokeswoman said.

She says it is simply often a case of getting the bully to understand the impact of what they are doing.

Andy Peart, deputy head of legal and members services at the ATL, says he gets calls about teachers being bullied by their colleagues every week.

He said he always advises teachers to keep a note of what was said and by whom and to make a formal complaint about the problem.

'Stigmatised'

But he says many teachers are reluctant to make a fuss, fearing they will make things worse.

This problem is compounded when they person they have to complain to is the bully himself.

"They feel that if they do raise it, they will be stigmatised.

"But the effect of bullying on someone can be so bad that it gets to the stage where they feel they have to leave their job," says Mr Peart.

"You can understand someone's reluctance to make a complaint but if they don't - the bullying is only likely to continue and to get worse."


SEE ALSO
Teachers 'bullied at school'
12 Apr 03 |  Education
Turning the tables on the bullies
20 Nov 06 |  Education

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