No safety net

7th March 1997 at 00:00
I refer to the article on staff discipline (TES, February 14). I agree with Jerry Bartlett, legal officer for the National Association of Schoolmasters Union of Women Teachers, when he admits the law today gives employees little protection.

As Tim Field says in his book Bully in Sight, you could call someone a wally and risk being threatened with court action but if a headteacher actually does bully a teacher into a nervous breakdown and out of a job, there's nothing a teacher can do. It's not a crime.

There is no independent, impartial body to whom a teacher can appeal. Governors, many of whom have children at the school, will almost certainly rubber stamp a head's decision. The local education authority acts only in the capacity of advisor to head and the governing body, since local management of schools.

There is nothing between a governing body and the Secretary of State for Education and she can refuse to become involved by saying it's a local matter.Only a few local education authorities, for example, Wiltshire, Oxford, Berkshire, Manchester, recognise the problem and have delivered a harassment and bullying policy.

Even then it's not enough to say what should happen. Procedures are needed to see that it does happen. At present there is no safety net for the teacher.

BRENDA DAVIES 64 Wildwood Lane Stevenage Hertfordshire

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