Several Interesting TES Forum Posts About Bullying From Management

Over the past few days, several teachers have posted on the Times Educational Supplement 'Connect' Forums about separate situations that involve potential bulling coming from Senior Management Teams.

In the first, Bullying by HT - to whom do I report them?, there are no details of the actual bullying taking place, but the responses outline very well the state of the landscape when considering standing up to a bullying headteacher. 

The head may be widely acknowledged to be a bully, but has a long standing professional relationship with several key people, including the chair of governors, the LEA, the school union rep, and the rest of the senior management team. External bodies that may help can be lobbied and overturned by that list of people, so that the headquarters of a union and the GTC may also have no power here.

For the teacher, the only thing that whistle blowing on this situation will get them is removal from post using easily twisted capability procedures, a bad reference that will be taken at word by every future employer, no income and potential injury to mental health. So the head gets to carry on bullying.

The most unfortunate quote from the discussion comes from someone who has been in a similar situation: "Sadly it's not only 'professional suicide' - I came very close to actual suicide, on a couple of occasions."

The second poster, Is this bullying or discrimination?, tells of how she believes a few disagreements with her Head of Department have led to a very unprofessional 'not liking' of her, which has escalated. It has resulted in her starting her maternity leave by being told she has failed a performance management cycle, which is causing her additional stress at an important time. 

A final poster comments that, "So many of us go through this."

Finally, a third poster, I am coming across as too quiet/introverted!, has been told that these particular personality traits are making her perform poorly as a teacher. This is most similar to my own experience, where I was told that my posture and my accent were both causes for concern about my ability to do the job.

There is a very good reason why things like this, personality traits and personal demeanors, are not part of any set of NQT standards, lesson grading criteria or performance management. That's because they bear no relation on whether you can do the job or not, and are far too personal matters to be the concern of any manager or professional body.

I can understand where remarks like this come from. Better would be to tell this poster that they are not engaging in enough dialogue with students for his/her teaching to be effective. Better to tell me that I am not making effective use of body language and non-verbal communication. That is what we are trying to work together to make most effective - not any kind of personality correction. 

So why call it like that? Senior managers are just untouchable on matters like this, and that is not a productive way to work.


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