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Bullies are everywhere

Ted Wragg's column is often a highlight of The TES, but the assumptions underlying his advice to the teacher bullied by a deputy head (Dear Ted, Friday magazine, October 15) could be dangerously counter-productive.

Bullying in schools is far too common and on the increase. Support organisations such as DAWN (Dignity At Work Now), have been trying to raise awareness of the issue for years. Journals such as New Era in Education (August 2002) and even The TES itself (June 21, 2002) highlighted the problem.

Those who have never experienced the appalling stress of being targeted by an incompetent superior (the usual bullying scenario) should not begin by questioning the victim's veracity. To suggest bullying is less likely in a "caring profession" such as teaching is to reveal ignorance of the subject.

Most victims come from the caring professions (see The TES, June 21, 2002).

The problem is that managers are too often self-selected because competent professionals want to do the job, not administer it.

Astonishingly, bullying is not illegal. Bad managers can overload, undermine, spread false rumours, fabricate complaints, cold-shoulder and bad-mouth with impunity.

Grievance procedures exist on paper to wave in front of inspectors, but are not used in practice. Your contributors who suggest that the bully should be exposed are clearly unaware of the reality too many good staff have to face.

Dr Dave Hinton, Chairperson Dignity At Work Now Box 11435, Birmingham

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