The Big Question: Is teacher bullying a problem in schools?

Each week, we speak to the people who count, people like you, and post their opinions on the big issues in the education world.  Read it and comment to make it a lively and insightful debate.

This week’s question: Is teacher bullying a problem in schools?

Almost 80% of teachers have been bullied in the last two years, claims a survey released earlier this year.  Most of the bullying has been carried out by members of the senior management team, states the report co-produced by the Teacher Support Network, (TSN), independent national charity providing support to teachers, and the University of Glamorgan.

They found that bullying:

  • is significantly high among teachers in the UK.
  • is often carried out by the Senior Management Team.
  • has resulted in a variety of health problems and teachers off on sick leave.
  • has resulted in a number of teachers leaving the profession.

The most common forms of bullying include excessive workloads; ignoring opinions; withheld information; hostile reactions; and constant criticism. It also includes being ridiculed or excessively monitored; workloads below their level of ability; and being the victim of gossip.

Legislation around employers’ responsibilities to safeguard the health and wellbeing of staff does not specifically refer to bullying.

TSN believes it to be a ‘shocking phenomenon’ and attribute its causes partly to government initiatives which create undue pressure on school leaders. Additionally, personality clashes and high workloads exacerbate the problem.

Respondents to the survey gave the following comments:

“If Head teachers were more proactive in acting upon bullying among staff, many teachers would be far happier in their jobs. Children are not allowed to bully, why are teachers allowed.”

“I’ve just been diagnosed as being clinically depressed with anxiety. I am beginning to see how the problems that I have had at work relating to negative behaviour, bullying and harassment have been strongly contributive to my recent mental health difficulties.”

“Teachers are afraid to speak out regarding bullying at work as they know they will be forced to leave their jobs. EVERYONE knows it is getting worse but they are terrified for their jobs so it is kept quiet.”

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Is teacher bullying a problem in schools?  Post your comments below: