Your correspondent's experience is a mirror of what happened to me. I taught for 25 years, the last nine in an independent grammar with a "Christian principles" ethos. I was bullied out of my job last year by four senior managers, including three men whose abuse flowed unchecked. Everything was done in secret and they all seemed to enjoy the witch hunt.
I was told no one liked or respected me; that the pupils disliked my teaching. Children were interviewed about me; the chairman of governors did not answer my written appeal for help; disciplinary action was threatened and carried out, everything fabricated and unsubstantiated. There was no help anywhere, although I appealed to the head to stop the hounding.
The governors weren't interested and the NUT was no use at all. At one meeting I thought the union official would wipe the floor with my boss - instead I was the one who had to wipe the floor. Early retirement was inevitable.
This is what I have done: * I wrote to the general secretary of my union to complain about its treatment of me.
* I wrote to the Health and Safety Executive.
* I spoke with my MP.
* I invested some of my lump sum in a personal equity plan to ensure a regular monthly bonus.
* I told as many people as possible what went on.
* I also approached my local press about possible employment and they were pleased to let me do some freelance reviews.
It's very difficult all the same - at least your correspondent is not alone. She can be reassured of that.
Members of two informal groupings - The Bullied Teachers' Network and Redress - are meeting in London this weekend to establish a new organisation giving support and advice to teachers. The Campaign for Academic Freedom and Standards has offered to act as an umbrella group. Details will be available from August 1 from Jenni Watson, current secretary of Redress. Tel: 01405-764432 * Public Concern at Work provides free advice to employees concerned about malpractice at work. The charity also works with employers offering consultancy, training and a conciliation service. Contact: Lincoln's Inn House, 42 Kingsway, London WC2B 6EX. Tel: 0171-404 6609