'Bully' managers under fire in workplace survey

10th March 2000 at 00:00
A "STARTLING" three-quarters of further education staff do not believe their college is well managed, according to a workplace survey by the Educational Institute of Scotland.

The EIS paints an alarming picture of unaccountable and bullying bosses serving the interests of business rather than education, which has led to a "climate of fear" and created job insecurity among staff that is now "rife".

The survey is part of its submission to the management review of FE being carried out by the Scottish Further Education Funding Council. The union, which represents nine out of 10 FE lecturers, says it hopes the council will recommend changes which will give "greater priority to people needs at all levels of the FE system", including some form of national negotiating machinery. Better consultation and more investment in staff development is required not least management training, the EIS says.

Its comments are in stark contrast to the highly balanced report from the KPMG consultants to the funding council, although their findings were based on visits to only 12 colleges.

The EIS acknowledges that the problems have been partly exacerbated by underfunding, despite the pound;214 million extra being ploughed in by the Government over thre years. The result has been "a struggle for survival" in which there has been a loss of vision of what FE is about, the union suggests.

It continues: "Educational excellence is being sacrificed as management seek to create income by entering into commercial activities at the expense of mainstream provision and as the long-term effect of cuts takes its toll on teachers' time and energy.

"Management practice has, perhaps by perceived necessity, moved away from being student-centred to being budget-centred. Policy decisions are seen to be driven not by the desire to achieve excellent educational practice but by the need to generate income."

The EIS goes on to attack management style in FE colleges which in most colleges is regarded as "autocratic and hierarchical". Its submission adds:

"Staff report a management style that lacks people skills, communicates ineffectively and does not listen to the concerns of teaching staff."

There is also a high rate of bullying and harassment, the union alleges, which is either not tackled by management or is perpetrated by them. Job insecurity and limited promotion opportunities prevent lecturers speaking out about harassment, poor conditions or falling standards, it states.

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