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With regard to recent coverage on bullied teachers, I attended a meeting related to this issue in London, and found that one of the most depressing aspects is the attitude of the unions.

According to anecdotal evidence, their efforts range from the woefully inadequate to the downright obstructive, whether National Union of Teachers, National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, Association of Teachers and Lecturers or Professional Association of Teachers, all of which were represented by membership.

It seemed to me, and to others, that a new teacher would be best advised to resist joining any union and instead save up his or her cash to pay for independent legal representation as a safeguard against spurious charges of incompetency andor gross misconduct.

This is something staff can look forward to once they start to become expensive or are tempted incautiously to voice an opinion at staff meetings.

There is an all-too-cosy relationship between school management and unions: teachers should inevitably smell a rat when cordially invited to bring along a union official to crucial disciplinary meetings.

Heads will not invite anyone to such a meeting who might pose a threat: you'd be on a safer wicket bringing along a complete stranger off the street than inviting a branch secretary who knows the inside of the head's office as well as the head does.

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