Teachers 'made to feel suicidal' and left 'shaking uncontrollably' by workplace bullying

Teachers speak out against adult bullies using school as a "playground in which to exorcise their own demons"

Will Hazell

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Teachers are being sick before they come into work, have been left "shaking uncontrollably" and have even been made to feel suicidal because of workplace bullying, a conference has heard.

This afternoon at the NASUWT union's annual conference in Birmingham, teachers spoke out against workplace bullies who treat colleagues like their "personal punchbags".

Simon Jones, a teacher from Bradford, said that bullying was an "every day occurrence" in his school, that "goes on from 8:25am through to 2:55pm".

He said "about 30" staff have left the school over the last two years, with some "escorted off the site in the middle of the day".

Describing the bullying, he said there were “teachers too frightened to come to school, teachers being shouted in front of pupils by [senior leaders] in classes, teachers being sick every morning before they come to school, teachers crying in the classroom, teachers shaking uncontrollably".

"There’s at least four teachers in my school who have been to hospital over issues around what’s happened in the workplace, and there’s certainly two members of staff who will probably never teach again,” he said.

Donna Timmiss, a teacher from Durham, said she was subjected to bullying by a new head of department, although by the time she realised it was happening "it was too late”.

"Previously we’d worked really collaboratively and well. No that wasn’t allowed anymore – if you did not slavishly follow her lead, then you were targeted.

“She used the usual techniques. Observation - I was a nervous about observations anyway - she would bring in her colleagues, she would have a couple in at a time. I was put on a support plan, my books were scrutinised.

“My health started to suffer. I’d had excellent attendance before that. The emails when I was off work ill started coming. It was constant - the support plans, then the capability. When I realised was when she cornered me in my classroom, stood in front of the door and told me off for contacting the union about an issue."

Ms Timmiss said the experience made her feel "worthless" and "suicidal".

"Eventually I got out, but I’m still suffering… I’d worked in that town for a long time, I can barely face going into that town now because of this.”

However, she said the person who had bullied her had actually been promoted.

"Nothing happens, these senior leaders protect themselves," she said. "We tell our young people that there’s consequences for their actions - there wasn’t for her.”

Carmen Drysdale, a teacher from Tower Hamlets, said bullying was "rife" in schools because many teachers "live in fear" about targets and whether they will get pay progression. 

She said: “Too many adults working in schools use school as a playground in which to exorcise their own demons.We are not their personal punchbags.

"It is so weird in an environment where we spend every day implementing a behavioural policy for our students, and yet how do some of us treat each other?”


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Will Hazell

Will Hazell

Will Hazell is a reporter at Tes

Find me on Twitter @whazell

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