Teacher Support Info

Bullying of teachers a massive and highly damaging problem, says survey

3 June 2008


Nearly 80 per cent of teachers have been bullied over the last two years, a new survey has suggested. 79.8 per cent of respondents reported experiencing bullying in their workplace, with nearly 70 per cent claiming it was still going on.

The survey formed part of research conducted by Teacher Support Network and the Centre for Research on Workplace Behaviours at the University of Glamorgan. Consistently, respondents said that it was a head teacher or senior manager that was behind the bullying.

The project was carried out by Professors Duncan Lewis and Michael Sheehan at the Centre, both of whom have an international research reputation in the area of workplace bullying, in conjunction with Teacher Support Network: the UK-wide, independent charity.

Teacher Support Network Chief Executive Patrick Nash said: “The survey gives a highly-troubling glimpse of the extent that bullying is affecting teachers and the terrible consequences it has on their health and wellbeing.

“Beyond the effects on individual teachers, bullying of those who work in the classroom has very a negative outcome for children’s education, especially taking into account how many are considering leaving their jobs or their profession as a whole as a result.

“Schools can and must take steps to address this shocking phenomenon. We believe that undue pressure on school leaders from government, such as through too many directives and new initiatives, also contributes to the problem of the treatment of school staff.

“One of the most pressing needs for all of us who work around education is to ensure an end to the bullying of teachers and classify such behaviour as entirely unacceptable.” As well as producing some startling statistics, the project also enabled respondents to give further information on their experiences, using a survey tool called Negative Acts Questionnaire-Revised (NAQ-R).

The tool listed behaviours associated with bullying and asked respondents if they have ever experienced these types of behaviour in their workplace.

From these statements, the Centre for Research on Workplace Behaviours found that: Bullying is significantly high among teachers in the UK. Bulling is often carried out by the Senior Management Team. Bullying has resulted in a variety of health problems and teachers off on sick leave.

Bullying has resulted in a number of teachers leaving the profession. Prof Duncan Lewis, Co Director of the Centre for Workplace Behaviours, also commented: “This survey shows that it’s not just the pupils who display bullying behaviours in schools, it seems that members of the Senior Management Team can often be considered bullies, however this is not a simple phenomenon.

There are a wide variety of factors at play within the school organisational culture ranging from personality clashes to consistently high workload, so much so that further study needs to be conducted.”