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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.
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
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
They can be contacted on 08000 562 561 or on-line at
What can I do about bullying?
Lets 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
Typically, the victim takes it, doesnt 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 arent 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.
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 managers 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.
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.
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....
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
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.
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
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
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
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
Nor should we work excessive hours. This isn't hard work-it
is sheer exploitation enforced by bullying. Do you recognise any of these
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
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.