Schools: Bullying

House of Lords written question – answered on 17th May 2006.

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Photo of Lord Laird Lord Laird Crossbench

asked Her Majesty's Government:

In each of the last six years, whether any teachers at Larchfield Primary School in the Royal Borough of Windsor and Maidenhead filed complaints about harassment and bullying; if so, how many complaints were filed; on what dates; what was the procedure used; and what was the outcome.

Photo of Lord Adonis Lord Adonis Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Schools), Department for Education and Skills, Parliamentary Under-Secretary (Department for Education and Skills) (Schools)

The Department for Education and Skills does not record the information requested. Cases involving staff complaining about harassment and bullying by a colleague are a matter for the employer which is, in the majority of schools, the local authority. We expect issues of this nature to be resolved at a local level, and the department would not ordinarily be involved in the process.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes5 people think so

No39 people think not

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Katherine Cook
Posted on 28 May 2006 12:06 am (Report this annotation)

Of course it's mostly dealt with at the local level. This issue is so widespread, however, that one must investigate and take it further; else head teachers, some staff and LEAs will have free reign to destroy not only the people who work the hardest to raise standards, but also will destroy the schools by such behaviour.

I hope that Lord Laird will take up this example that apparently has been provided and make sure that a full investigation occurs in order to ensure that Britain achieves the highest standards with regard to educational achievement.

Mrs. Katherine Cook (another who has been bullied out of employment but unscrupulous people)

mary rondel
Posted on 28 May 2006 10:03 am (Report this annotation)

As a victim of bullying myself, and as someone who has tried to counsel others, it's a horrible situation. Whenever bullying is mentioned about schools, it tends to be in the context of children being bullied, not teachers. This should really be rectified.

Victims will try to leave the establishment,if they can, or try to ride it out. Unfortunately, the latter course of action can result in stress and then illness. The victim is them sometimes deemed to be unable to cope with the job.

As the poster Katherine Cook says, if HTs and are allowed to think that they are the ultimate authority they will be under no pressure to take matters like this any further. Even the much lauded authority 'exit' interviews do not always seem to be acted upon.

Finally, why are some bullying heads/SMT members apparently fee to go on to other headships and cause further distress? Probably because they are getting away with it and they are in a powerful position.

Good luck to Lord Laird with his invetsigation and I hope that he is able to follow it through to a clear ending.

Stuart Neilson
Posted on 28 May 2006 10:19 am (Report this annotation)

Whilst dealing with bullying is correctly a matter for the school or the LEA at local level, it becomes a matter for the department when schools and LEAs are patently failing in their duty to protect staff and teaching standards. If the department does not record information of such a serious issue, how on earth can it ensure schools are acting responsibly? Where reasonable suspicion exists of systematic bullying and harssment, as in this case, it is the department's duty to investigate - to clear the school or to enforce change. It would take little effort to ensure that a count of bullying complaints (or stress sickness leave, or legal actions) was available for all schools, and save the immense costs that are currently drained by bullying of teachers in schools.

Richard Goodwin
Posted on 28 May 2006 11:25 am (Report this annotation)

This issue of teachers being bullied is a serious and expensive one, as well as leading to extreme health problems, loss of income and employment.
Childrens education is disrupted and seriously compromised by their teacher being off sick or leaving.
In the case in question the competency of the teacher was never in doubt; how many excellent teachers are we losing every year because Heads and senior teachers have an almost feudal power over their staff?
If, as in several cases, the Head is at fault how can they then judge objectively?
If, as often happens, they wish to keep the good name of the school to protect against falling rolls, will they be the most unbiased of judges?
Where do their interests lie?
I ask for an independent reviewer- not the Local Authority or the SMT or the Governors, but a free and uninterested party.

Kaye Parker
Posted on 28 May 2006 11:58 am (Report this annotation)

I concur with the excellent and very true points brought up by Mr. Goodwin. I especially agree that the matter in question needs to be pursued by an uninterested party. If a teacher of this calibre can be treated in such a manner and the incident allowed to pass unaddressed, it then becomes tragically obvious that the school's administration is more concerned with the school's image and good name,rather than with the education of its students and the ability to attract and retain qualified educators; and really, when one thinks about it, aren't those the very things that give a school its good name in the first place?

Kathy Salaman
Posted on 28 May 2006 12:44 pm

This annotation has been removed

Katherine Cook
Posted on 31 May 2006 4:35 pm (Report this annotation)

It would be interesting to see what those who ticked "yes" say in response to Lord Adonis' answer. Why do they believe it has answered the question?

There were specifics: "how many complaints were filed; on what dates; what was the procedure used; and what was the outcome"

These questions were not answered by Lord Adonis in his response. Perhaps Lord Adonis should do some research and then respond to the specific questions?

Until then, he has not actually answered the question put by the Rt. Honourable Lord Laird.