Education news

Four in 10 teachers bullied in the last year

Chris Keates, NASUWT General Secretary

WORKPLACE bullying is ruining the lives of teachers, with many left feeling depressed, anxious and lacking confidence, a survey has found.

Many staff are turning to the medical profession, drugs and alcohol to help them cope, according to the NASUWT.

The union is holding its annual national conference in Belfast this weekend.

Ahead of the conference, it surveyed nearly 2,000 members and found that 80 per cent had suffered bullying in the last year.

The majority of incidents, the union found, were perpetrated by headteachers, senior leaders and line managers.

Eight in 10 said they had suffered anxiety as a result of bullying.

Nearly half (45 per cent) said they had visited their GP, while teachers also said they were turning to prescribed drugs (18) and alcohol (17) to help them cope.

More than half (52) experienced depression because of bullying, with 41 per cent saying it has affected their ability to deliver high-quality lessons.

The majority of the bullying (70) was carried out by headteachers or senior leaders, with 38 per cent reporting their line manager was bullying them. Bullying was also carried out on a lesser scale by other teachers (22), support staff (8) and governors (4).

The forms of bullying being experienced covered a wide range from shouting and verbal abuse to teachers being threatened with capability and having their work criticised in front of others.

Being undermined or belittled was experienced by 84 per cent of those who responded while about half said they had been ignored or ostracised. Nearly half had their work criticised in front of others, four in ten were threatened with `capability procedures' and more than a quarter said they had rumours spread about them.

More than half said the bullying situation in their workplace had got worse in the last year.

NASUWT General Secretary Chris Keates said evidence of bullying was alarmingly prevalent in schools and colleges.

"While there are many schools that treat their staff with courtesy and respect, teachers tell us that in too many a culture of bullying and abuse of teachers is far too common," she said.

"Bullying is destroying many teachers' physical and mental health, and driving some teachers from their schools or the profession entirely.

"The abuse, bullying, ostracising and undermining of teachers has to stop. The NASUWT will continue to challenge, using every means necessary, any employer not treating teachers with dignity and respect."

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ALMOST 2,000 teachers responded to the survey between February and April 2019. Comments from respondents include:

:: It has affected my whole life, health and mental wellbeing, it affected my work and they made it impossible for me to stay. Consequently my family life was severely affected as at one stage I couldn't get out of bed or make myself a cup of tea

:: The amount of negative comments on foreigners has increased, even in the staff room. When I point out that I am one of them, I often get the comment, "Not you, the other kind"

:: It has been horrific. I genuinely thought about harming myself so I wouldn't have to attend work

:: There is a culture of 'if your face fits' at this particular school and the assistant headteacher who has repeatedly bullied several staff is in charge of staff welfare and wellbeing

:: Education is a nasty, back-stabbing, cruel place to work

:: The bullying broke me mentally and I was left with no choice but to resign for my sanity's sake

:: Humans act as pack animals and in the worst cases unite in turning on perceived weaker members of staff

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