Silenced by the secret staffroom snitches

We have a real issue in our school with staff members seeking promotion by being spies for the principal

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She has always promoted her favourite staff members - those who suck up to her or who act as her eyes around the school - rather than, as she should, promoting the best person for the job on the basis of achievement. Several teachers have cottoned on to this fact and, spotting an opportunity, have been acting outrageously as a result.

Several times now a colleague will have said something vaguely critical of the school or of decisions that have been made and, rather than challenging those comments directly, a fellow teacher has run straight to the principal to report the comments. The teacher who made them is then hauled in to her office.

It is getting ridiculous. Now, even the way we speak to a class is being reported. I was having a joke with some older students about a Saturday-night television show and found myself suddenly called to the principal to explain my inappropriate behaviour. It was ludicrous.

The principal, of course, never tells us who the informant was, and when we challenge those we know to be the culprits they deny all knowledge and pretend to be offended. It is childish, to say the least. Sometimes you feel a fraud telling students off for petty arguments and telling tales on each other when you know that you are dealing with the same issues among the staff. Arguably, with the staff it is much worse.

The result is that the school has become an informant society. We now watch what we say at all times, and only with those whom we trust do we speak our minds - and even then we do so with James Bond levels of secrecy, hiding in cupboards and appointing lookouts while swearing each other to secrecy.

It's no way to run a school, yet this kind of behaviour will probably only increase as principals gain more independent power over pay and teachers seek any advantage they can get. There used to be solidarity among us, especially in the lower ranks, but it seems that is no longer the case.

The writer is a teacher from the North East of England.

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