How to destroy a school's morale

30th May 1997 at 01:00
Not so very long ago, I believe I was better respected by pupils, parents and colleagues. My pupils achieved the highest of standards, and I know I was offering something extra to the school.

Then, gradually, things started to change, like the reprocessing of an image. Now I have lost most of my self-confidence, I think I have been deliberately marginalised, while colleagues' personalities have changed.

I am made to feel that whatever I do is wrong, there is persisent criticism and nit-picking, while my achievements are ignored. There is often a lack of information, as though it has all been filtered. Worse than this, there has been frequent twisting and distorting of information, which seems to have purpose in manipulating others, in a way that undermines me. When the head makes mistakes, the rest of us get the blame but we dare not complain. Sometimes parents have questioned the head's decisions, then moved their children to other schools.

Much is made of teamwork, but practice runs counter to what I understand by the term - harnessing everyone's strengths for the good of the school. Instead, pecking orders operate; divide and rule is the norm.

There has been a considerable staff turnover; younger colleagues leaving at the earliest opportunity, older colleagues quietly retiring before their time. The head has humiliated teachers and parents alike, but is loudly applauded by superiors who have met a different person. Ofsted would be presented with excellent paperwork but very few tracks.

It isn't easy to leave or to challenge the situation. Headteachers are all-powerful, local education authorities no longer control, governors are reluctant to challenge even when they sense things could be better. And if I left, the school's problems would remain.

This situation could be defined as adult abuse and should be called bullying. The persistent, deliberate undermining of an individual as a management strategy needs exposing. It destroys individual and corporate morale, and it is costly. It should not be tolerated at my school or anywhere else.

The writer is a male teacher working in the West Country

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