Bullied staff threaten to name guilty heads

17th May 1996 at 01:00
Members of the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers are threatening to expose "management bullies". The association's annual Scottish conference in Inverness heard that the fear of further victimisation prevented many teachers from protesting.

Tino Ferri, who represents Scotland on the national executive, told delegates that the union was prepared to "name names".

One speaker told how she was prescribed anti-depressant pills at the age of 24 because of intimidation by "a bitch of a headteacher". Elizabeth Hotchkin decided to reveal her experiences, which took place in a Port Glasgow primary 20 years ago, to encourage others to come forward.

Ms Hotchkin said that constant criticism and harassment had undermined her confidence to such an extent that she contemplated throwing herself under a train. She eventually contacted the Samaritans. Her union at the time and the local authority did nothing to help.

Jack Duffy, a senior member of the association's executive, said hectoring and authoritarian heads had become a growing problem over the past 15 years but teachers were afraid to speak out. Mr Duffy, who teaches in St Leonard's Secondary, Glasgow, recalled a head who argued that staff ought to work in a state of "creative tension" to keep them on their toes.

John Milgrew, a teacher at Holyrood Secondary in Glasgow, claimed some headteachers used intimidation as a management tool. Roddie Maccrimmon, of Holm primary in Inverness, the only head at the conference, said such tactics demeaned the professionalism and dignity of headteachers.

John Kelly, the union's Scottish president, who is an assistant head at St Ninian's High in Kirkintilloch, agreed that teachers felt increasingly under stress "from the bullying behaviour of senior colleagues". If necessary the union could sue.

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