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Management Bullying - Let's Stop it now!

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Manager bullied by the Director

Bullying can be defeated. Solidarity among staff is the best guarantee of stopping the bully in his / her tracks. We'll win however long it takes. A member (in this case a manager) was suspended following fabricated allegations by a notorious bully. The suspension lasted nearly a year. Our member was re-instated, never lost a days pay (unfortunately his health was affected at times) but the school community is angry about the goings on. The bully has since departed.

Happy ending

Three years on, the teacher concerned here has stayed in the classroom, is doing an effective job as ever and is now the union rep in his new post. They can grind some people down, but some can never be broken

The life and times of the serial bully

Bullying is perceived by some as a psychological disorder. This perception may apply in some cases, including with child relationships. We are firmly of the view that the reasons extend beyond the personality and are social and political, but the psychological analysis is useful to recognise bullying symptoms at the very least. Without going into psychopaths, sociopaths, forms of paranoia etc., we can all recognise some of the symptoms of the serial bully-that is the bully who has one target after another . Why, you ask, would anyone wish to bully having grown up and passed their exams? The issue is too complex, but part of the answer is lack of intellect, lack of social skills and usually lack of leadership. The bullying is to compensate for such failings. Bully's profile Such bullies usually act out of self-interest: tries to appear intelligent, but is usually found to lack academic or professional success; cannot maintain confidentiality-breaches it with distorted reports; is unable to trust others and chooses to monitor others excessively (here Ofsted is the bullies charter, if ever there was one); is gratified to provoke emotional responses from others; has poor interpersonal skills; is a compulsive liar, usually necessary to shield themselves when challenged; has a short, selective memory denying what they said-even in public; bears grudges which are used later to demote in a 'restructure'; takes the credit for other peoples' work, but fails to praise the victim privately or at meetings. There is the 'extrovert' who is a shouter, but the quiet ones are most dangerous as they establish a hierarchy of trustees who do their bidding. Decisions are made by the bully and transmitted to the 'yes' people who form the clique. This bully is cunning and knows to behave differently when there are witnesses. Only the stupid bully torments a teacher when the union is present. (They are always charming, some have the best tea in town!) Their inconsistency in behaviour, is reflected in behaviour where the rules are not considered for practical reasons, but only to protect the bullying manager. The non-bullying head At the staff meeting, you voice your opinion. It is not the same as the head's. The Head listens, allows your views to be part of the overall discussion, even modifies policy on account of what you say. Most Heads were once like this. At any event, you are not called to the office afterwards to explain your insubordination. If you can talk to your headteacher freely, if you feel a valued member of staff, if the Head has procedures in place that make sense and help the smooth running of the school, if the head is consistent with all staff and perhaps above all if the Head seems to know what s/he is talking about educationally, then the chances are your Head is not a bully

Workload

Common in this category is the head who expects absolute commitment from staff. While workload is a problem in itself, the attitude of the head can aggravate it. Teachers resent expectations that they will: work long hours (70+ per week); attend meetings outside their contracted 1265 hours - which they exceed considerably in any case; put family and other interests after the demands of school.

Heads sometimes seem to view illness as 'letting the school down', and expect teachers to work at home (on planning, preparation, marking etc) if they do 'give in' to illness and have time off.

Callers have also been worried about the effects of long-term sickness on their professional career, and concerned at the lack of support from the school. Resentment is often manifested in the question 'How much more can I give?'

From Teachers Support Network. TSN exists as a helpline for distressed teachers.

They can be contacted on 08000 562 561 or on-line at www.teachersupport.info

Some useful websites:

http://www.humane-resources.co.uk

http://www.bullyonline.org

http://www.hse.gov.uk/

What can I do about bullying?

Let’s put the question another way —what can we do about bullying? Managers and administrators are expected to deliver, but find they do not have the resources. They do not take on the government or the local authority, but take it out on their staff who appear helpless.

Typically, the victim takes it, doesn’t sleep, works even harder, is moody at home, may even be ostracised at work on the say-so of the bully. The teacher may deny there is a problem accepting that s/he is at fault. In the case of black teachers being bullied, they are made to feel that they aren’t as good as their white counterparts, when in fact analysis shows a different story.

The bully will win if the teacher thinks it will go away, blow over, or above all it internalised by the teacher never speaking to anyone else about the way treated.

Solidarity

Yet, you are never alone. To be precise, the NUT membership is 250,000 and the trade union movement is about 8 million. The bully may be only one (OK, backed by a bullying culture condoned by this government). You do not suffer alone. Yes, we can support you taking out grievances against the manager’s bullying behaviour, if need be through the courts.

Whatever you do, it starts by letting the union know.

When you realise you are not alone, whatever else follows, you have taken the first big step to stopping that bully.

When we stand together, there is always hope!

We are committed to supporting teachers from bullying managers, whether the bully is the head, a line manager or the DCSF leaning on a school for that matter. We have printed copies of this material available. If you are subject to a bullying culture, do not suffer alone. Ensure that your local union branch is made aware.
Remote control?

Heard the one about the headteacher ringing up the teacher at home? Nothing new there, then. It happens all the time. You know the conversation. It starts off innocently enough assuring the teacher that the head has nothing but the teacher's welfare at heart.

Then there's a question about reports, lesson plans, missing children's books, can work be marked.

It moves on to ' the children are suffering' and 'are you really committed to this job'.

The head never asks the question as to what the management has contributed to make the teacher ill in the first place.

Oh no, never their fault.

Not just classroom teachers

….. A senior member of staff is being told she needs to get into school earlier (the teacher was in any case usually in by 7.45AM). This teacher has already been victimised, excluded from SMT meetings, ridiculed and made the subject of sarcastic comments by the Head. She simply asked the head as to what would be a good time to come in. The Head gave no reply, leaving the teacher baffled and wondering why the question was raised.

Unreasonable Request?

Clearly we've got it wrong. In another school, a new member of staff asked a bullying manager as to what time she should be in school in the morning. A reasonable question, one would have thought? Not in this case - the teacher concerned was on the receiving end of a bullying tirade. No witnesses, of course, so they say anything....

Differential treatment

The one place there are usually witnesses is the staff meeting. A black female teacher, at the end of the staff meeting, wants to make a suggestion in relation to child protection matters. We'd have thought this was an important enough item? She's told there's no time. A white male colleague then is given opportunity to refer to some fairly trivial matter that could wait.

The tragedy is that in that case, the other teachers have all been so intimidated since the new head had arrived that they are reluctant to come forward, some have since left.

Why me?

Some heads are simply misogynists. Many are homophobes. Equalities issues are covered by law and can be challenged simply if there is evidence that you have been treated differently because of race, gender or sexuality (or even because of Trade Union activity).

The reason for bullying may be motivated by other reasons. It could simply be finance driven.

In one case we are dealing with, its simply that the teacher is over 50, post-threshold and expensive to the school.

It could be political, possibly because of support for the union-which is stupid, as the Head is making it more likely that the union will be involved.

Or it could be because you voiced a difference of opinion at the staff meeting and you hadn't been told that fanatical devotion a la Spanish Inquisition was expected of you.

The unions have fought for and we have in place a procedure implemented by the local authority. It allows teachers to make clear their reason for leaving.

The reasons, of course are usually routine-retirement, leaving town, leaving teaching, promotion etc. We all know that people leave jobs because they have been bullied, but there is a need for data to be collected.

Why did 17 NQTs started at one particular school last year yet most will leave this term or have already left?

Why in another school has a new head led to a mass exodus? One teacher every five years alleging they were driven out wouldn't raise too many eye-brows, but what if significant numbers depart?

Please consult us for more advice on this, but an exit interview is your right and you should ask to be interviewed by Lambeth Human Resources, who in any case need to know how employees are being treated in some instances. NQT's-important

If you are an NQT being bullied do not wait for it to go away-it won't. Contact Kevin Ronan from Lambeth HR on 7926 9829 without hesitation. Kevin recognises that the employer has a duty of care and will ensure you are treated fairly.

Then there's stress ...

Stress is the most common reason why teachers retire early, leave the profession or simply become ill.

Medical assessment forms that consider stress have a tick-box with the word 'teacher' next to it. No other profession has this.

It would be wrong to suggest that all stress is caused by bullying, but bullying is usually at the heart of the problem. Teachers get bullied by their line manager who in turn is bullied by the head who in turn is bullied by the next level of command until we get to the government, the biggest bully of all.

If you are suffering from stress at work, the chances are that you are being badly managed. The headteacher doesn't have the resources to meet the demands set out by the local authority and the government.

However, there is this notion that we can get there if we all work even harder. Yes, it is often possible for some employees to work more-but is never possible for the entire workforce to work such long hours that they do not see home, they are in school weekends and probably never see daylight.

Nor should we work excessive hours. This isn't hard work-it is sheer exploitation enforced by bullying. Do you recognise any of these statements below?

We're here for the children

If Ofsted came now they would fail the school

I pay you enough, I expect this to be done by Friday

That planning folder should have been in last week. Everyone else has managed to do that..

We can consider the capability procedure if you wish.

If you don't want to work here, you are free to go

All these have really been used by real managers with real teachers in Lambeth.

The NUT is committed to challenging this bullying culture of managers-wherever it arises.

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