This is the original Bullyonline website developed by the late Tim Field. It is provided as a testament to his pioneering work. Visit our new website.

bullying, teaching, lecturing, mcavoy, nut, national union of teachers, nasuwt, school, 
education, ofsted, tests, sats, lea, local, authority, stress, burnout, suicide
Constantly criticised, excessive monitoring, undermined, not valued, overloaded, stressed, exgausted? Read this

Information for teachers and lecturers experiencing workplace bullying

"[The head teacher] dressed impeccably and had a radiant smile and spoke very professionally. It's horrible to say this, but if you can pull off those three simple things ... the bureaucrats will be dazzled and they will let you keep your job -- even if you belong in jail."
Velma Konwea, who now happily teaches grade school under a good principal in Hollywood.

On this page
Teacher commits suicide after OFSTED inspection | Reason to resign
Stressed teachers' helpline | Poll reveals teacher haemorrhage
NAHT bullying guidelines | Information for bullied teachers
Ratcliffe v. Pembrokeshire County Council | Turner v. Bedfordshire County Council
Benson v. Wirral Borough Council | Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council and others
A v. Shropshire County Council | Pepper v. Reading Borough Council
Howell v. Newport County Borough Council (formerly Gwent Count Council)
Bullying of teachers: the patterns which reveal bullying | Information for bullied lecturers
Support groups | Web sites | Headlines and articles about the state of UK education
Education quangos chiefs' salaries | OFSTED | League tables | INSTED

See also
Bullying of lecturers in Further Education
Bullying of lecturers in Higher Education

At around 20% (of over 10,000 cases), teachers, lecturers and employees in education are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line. Teachers are also proving to be the number one group of emailers via Bully OnLine - especially from UK, USA, Canada and Australia. The most common complaint by teachers (and others in the public sector) is that their trade union is refusing to support them in their case of bullying and stress - for more on this click here.

This page is devoted to bullying in education - between adults, not children - which is proving to be the worst sector for this behaviour. The book Bully in sight devotes a whole chapter to bullying in the education sector.

A teacher case history has been added - case 6.

Use this page, and especially the headlines later, to judge for yourself the effectiveness of the UK government's education policy.

Coverage of the teachers' unions conferences in 2000, including debates on stress, bullying, overwork etc is at BBC News Online.

Thread on bullying of teachers at TES website

Click here.

For teachers in the USA

Survey of bullyed teachers in USA
Drs Jo and Joseph Blase, authors of Breaking the Silence, the groundbreaking book exposing teacher abuse, are collecting more research to expose bullying and abuse of teachers. If you're a teacher in the USA who's experienced bullying please participate in this survey:

National Association for Prevention of Teacher Abuse: the truth of why public schools are so dysfunctional and how teachers are abused to silence the truth.

The Black Holes in the Blueprint: the story of teacher abuse in the USA by San Diego City Schools by music teacher Janice Howes.

UTD (United Teachers of Dade, Miami, Florida) union president jailed for fraud:

Former principals win case against district
November 2004: San Diego school principals stripped of their management duties in shake-up led by Superintendent Alan Bersin get their jobs back:

High court maintains $1 million verdict against Portland schools
November 2004: Former special education teacher Pamella Settlegoode wins case against Portland Public Schools:


Teachers and lecturers do more unpaid overtime than any other employees
February 2005:

610m school exam bill 'tragic waste'
February 2005: A "nightmare scenario" of too much exam red-tape and a "huge amount of superfluous or duplicated information":

UK government education initiatives a failure
February 2005: Teachers in fear of their lives:

At least one third of teacher sick leave caused by stress
December 2004: A Schools Advisory Service survey estimates the annual cost of work-related stress and resultant anxiety and depression is 19m:

OFSTED consumes a "massive" amount of public money
September 2004: Ofsted inspections on their own did not help those schools with "serious weaknesses" get better and criticism by Ofsted could cause a "spiral of decline", as teachers and students became disheartened:

Which teacher union would you choose to join?
The NASUWT: supports bullied deputy head in successful 200K compensation case against the governors of Our Lady of Assumption Roman Catholic Primary in Tile Hill, Coventry, England:
The NUT: John Clare, Education Editor of The Telegraph exposes the charade of "the virtual reality world of the NUT" and describes general secretary Doug McAvoy as a "latter-day duke ... religiously opposed to every education initiative introduced by both the Tory and Labour governments" and despite being the biggest teacher union Doug McAvoy "knows that the union's influence on governments of any hue is, and always has been, negligible"; Polly Toynbee in the Guardian notes the "vainglorious departure of Doug McAvoy trumpeting away at the NUT conference"; Edward Heathcoat Amory in the Daily Mail says "Goodbye and good riddance ... to the dinosaur who did more than anyone to diminish the respect the British once reserved for the teaching profession" and describes Doug McAvoy as "a one-man roadblock on the way to reform" who is "more than any other individual, personally responsible for much that is wrong with our schools"; Conor Ryan in The Independent asks if the NUT can be saved from itself and observes Doug McAvoy as having turned the NUT into "the least relevant [teacher union] ... resembling Citizen Smith's Tooting Popular Front".

NASUWT teachers' leader dies aged 58
May 2004: Eamonn O'Kane, general secretary of the NASUWT for the last two years, has died after a long battle with cancer. A moderate regarded as a highly skilled and respected leader, he had, together with ATL general secretary Mary Bousted, been the target of a year-long advertising campaign waged by the NUT which Mr O'Kane had been forced to describe as "corrosive ... calumnies" in a statement titled Has the NUT gone nuts?. Tributes to Eamonn O'Kane:

Ofsted staff say they are stressed and bullied
30 April 2004: 20% feel they have been bullied or harassed, 33% want to leave, 66% feel unable to speak freely:

Head teacher exodus near crisis point
30 April 2004: Vacancies up 25% on the previous year, deputy heads unwilling to apply:

Trainee teachers 'face huge debt'
2 April 2004: Newly qualified teachers take 10-20 years to pay off student debts whilst 10% expect to leave the profession after five years or less:

Teachers report bullying at work
25 March 2004: bullying by fellow teachers and head teachers outnumber calls about pupil bullying: with one teacher's personal experience of being bullied out of his job:

Teacher suicide linked to stress of overwork
12 March 2004: pressure of work lead to death of Cornwall teacher Jane Dibb: and Hazards guide to work-related suicide:

Third of teachers plan to quit within 5 years
Badly-behaved pupils, excessive workloads and too many government initiatives, plus bullying by head teachers and LEAs lead one third to say they would not choose teaching if they had their time again:

London schools spending thousands on supply teachers
13 November 2002: a National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) poll has found that more than 80 schools in London spent between 40,000 and 200,000 on supply staff in the academic year 2001/02. One primary school in south London reported spending more than half a million pounds on supply teachers and a secondary school spent more than 450,000. [More]

Welsh teacher accepts out-of-court settlement
4 October 2002: Swansea teacher Alan Powis, 53, agreed to an out of court settlement of 230,000 from Neath Port Talbot Council. Mr Powis, of Llansamlet, was sacked in 1997 on grounds of gross misconduct, after five years of bullying by Sheena Ball, the former head of Coedffranc Junior School in Skewen, Neath Port Talbot, South Wales. [More]

Bullying in the staffroom the subject of a four-page feature in the Times Education Supplement Friday Magazine on 21 June 2002. A condensed version of the article is online.

Scottish teachers and stress

9 May 2002: the costs of stress are beginning to be recognised although the causes often receive less attention.

Teacher shortages "the worst for 36 years"

29 August 2001: the government's strategy of flying in temporary teachers from Australia and offering newly-qualified and returning teachers short-term financial bribes seems to have had little noticeable effect on the drain of teachers from the profession. OFSTED Chief Mike Tomlinson reported that 40% of teachers were leaving the profession before completing three years in the classroom because their salaries offered them little hope of getting on the property ladder. Christine Hood of the teachers' union NUT added, "Most teachers would love to just get on with teaching - but they can't, and if they find any alternative occupation they jump for it." One recently-qualified teacher described her first OFSTED inspection (which she passed successfully) as "the most degrading and humiliating experience of my life". She's now looking to give up teaching as soon as she can.

Comprehensive head the subject of three tribunals

4 May 2001: former England rugby star and current head of Ashlawn Comprehensive in Rugby Peter Rossborough has been defending himself against several claims of bullying, three of which are at tribunal stage. Former school secretary Rosemary Powell claims that Mr Rossborough's bullying caused injury to her health and forced her to quit. Mrs Powell and three colleagues were turned down for a pay rise in 1997 just before a younger woman from a different department was appointed office manager over them. Mrs Powell described how Mr Rossborough admitted embracing all the staff on National Hug Day, as well as his unsettling facial characteristics, including a frightening stare and a twitch in his right cheek which Mr Rossborough claimed indicated not anger but thoughtfulness. In a scenario familiar to those dealing with bullying, the figures tell a familiar story: at least 20 members of staff have recently left Ashlawn Comprehensive.

OFSTED "not a burden" claims Tomlinson

3 May 2001: OFSTED chief inspector Mike Tomlinson has claimed that "most teachers do not feel overburdened by the rigours of school inspections". Mr Tomlinson is the man who infamously once said of teachers "I don't give a monkey's toss for them". Teachers and lecturers are the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and enquirers of Bully OnLine. Anecdotal evidence suggests that OFSTED, whose inspectors are unaccountable, is a job preferred by non-teachers, incompetent teachers and failed teachers. Those who can, do; those who can't, inspect.

One teacher recently described an OFSTED inspection as "the most humiliating and degrading experience of my working life" and is now busy planning to leave the profession. As with nursing, the UK has a net drain of teachers with more leaving than joining. The government's response is to fly in teachers at great expense from distant parts of the world. Mr Tomlinson has overlooked OFSTED's role in turning teaching from one of the most respected jobs into one of the least desirable professions; he has also overlooked the number of suicides linked to the stress of OFSTED inspection.


Have you heard about the next planned Survivor show?

Three businessmen and three businesswomen will be dropped in an elementary school classroom for 6 weeks. Each business person will be provided with a copy of their school district's curriculum, and a class of 28 students. Each class will have five learning-disabled children, three with ADD, one gifted child, and two who speak limited English. Three will be labelled as severe behaviour problems.

Each business person must complete lesson plans at least 3 days in advance with annotations for curriculum objectives and modify, organize, or create materials accordingly. They will be required to teach students, handle misconduct, implement technology, document attendance, write referrals, correct homework, make bulletin boards, compute grades, complete report cards, document benchmarks, communicate with parents, and arrange parent conferences. They must also supervise recess and monitor the hallways. In addition, they will complete drills for fire, tornadoes, or shooting attacks.

They must attend workshops, (100 hours), faculty meetings, union meetings, and curriculum development meetings. If they are sick or having a bad day they must not let it show. Each day they must incorporate reading, writing, math, science, and social studies into the program.

They must maintain discipline and provide an educationally stimulating environment at all times. The business people will only have access to the golf on the weekends but that won't matter because on their new salaries they will not be able to afford it anyway. There will be no access to vendors who want to take them out to lunch, and lunch will be limited to 17 minutes.

On days when they do not have recess duty, the business people will be permitted to use the staff restroom as long as another survival candidate is supervising their class. They will be provided with two 40-minute planning periods per week while their students are at specials. If the copier is operable, they may make copies of necessary materials at this time.

The business people must continually advance their education on their own time and pay for this advanced training themselves. This can be accomplished by moonlighting at a second job or marrying someone with money. The winner will be allowed to return to his or her job.

Bullied by or because of OFSTED? Share your experience...

I'm Elizabeth Holmes and I'm researching teachers' experiences of OFSTED inspections. I'd like to hear from anyone who has suffered bullying because of an imminent inspection. I'd also like to hear from anyone who has experienced bullying tactics during, or as a result of, an inspection. All information will be treated with the strictest confidence. To get in touch, e-mail me at

Teacher shortage gets longer

"Staff crisis worsens as thousands quit" (TES, 4 May 2001)

March 2001: "Teachers are no longer prepared to assist with a cover-up. Parents should know the extent to which the shortage of teachers impacts on education" says Doug McAvoy, general secretary of the teacher union, the National Union of Teachers (NUT). David Blunkett's response was the usual DfEE reaction, "by taking this action you are harming children's education". This is an attempt to use guilt to manipulate people through their emotions, as well as an attempt to foment conflict between parents and teachers with the objective of diverting attention away from the DfEE's failings, ie the growing teacher shortage.

Oz teachers as stressed as UK teachers

March 2001: since 1996 almost 1,000 teachers and principals in the state of Victoria, Australia, have received 12.5 million (A$34 million) in compensation for stress and injury to health caused mostly by excessive workloads, abuse, lack of support and recognition, and having to deal with difficult students. Teachers from Australia, as well as the USA and Canada, feature prominently amongst enquirers to Bully OnLine.

Canadian teachers as stressed as UK teachers

March 2001: teachers in Canada are as stressed as they are in the UK, Australia and USA. A decade of constant change has included resource cuts, the dumping of special needs children in mainstream education without proper support, new curriculum material and increased bureaucracy. All this has resulted in thousands of teachers suffering stress and burnout. The number of teachers in Canada now claiming long-term disability is nearly double the number of nurses and air-traffic controllers, the two other traditionally and increasingly stressful occupations.

Woodhead goes

6 November 2000: OFSTED chief inspector Chris Woodhead has suddenly resigned. Credited by many as having single-handedly made teaching today's least attractive profession, Mr Woodhead's departure will be mourned by few. His own conduct has come in for criticism on a number of occasions, from an alleged affair with a schoolgirl to accepting a 34% pay rise whilst teachers only received 2%. On one occasion he sacked an incompetent inspector only to give the man a glowing reference the following week. Evidence is coming to light of suicides related to OFSTED inspections whilst anecdotal evidence from the UK National Workplace Bully Advice Line suggests that incompetent teachers and head teachers who leave the teaching profession appear to be able to walk straight into a cosy and well-paid OFSTED inspector's job - which has no accountability. Since its inception, OFSTED has cost UK taxpayers at least 4 billion - but tells parents nothing they don't know already.

Chris Woodhead will be replaced by his deputy, Mike Tomlinson who infamously once said of teachers "I don't give a monkey's toss for them, all I care about is the children". The king is dead...

Teacher recruitment crisis takes new twist

25 August 2000: 23 teachers from Sydney, Adelaide, and Melbourne fly in next week to take up teaching posts in Croydon, Surrey. Called Operation Kangaroo, four head teachers flew to Australia earlier this year to interview almost 100 candidates who, if accepted, have to sign on for a minimum of three terms. Although the project has been paid for by teacher recruitment agency Timeplan, the money presumably originates from LEAs having come out of taxes. Interest in the scheme from six further London Boroughs has prompted Timeplan to consider flying in more teachers from Australia and extending their recruitment drive to New Zealand, South Africa, and Canada.

Teachers and lecturers have consistently been the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line and enquirers to Bully OnLine at Bully Online

Any teacher from abroad considering this opportunity should ask why their prospective employer can't recruit teachers in the UK. Click here for one teacher's eloquent explanation of why he left the teaching profession. Several teachers have now committed suicide because of the pressures.

BBC Documentary series

Siguy films has produced a 3-part TV series on stress and bullying in the staff room called Classrooms at War. The final program, which includes bullying, was shown on BBC1 in May and June 2000.

NUT takes bullying seriously, allegedly

24 April 2000: delegates to the National Union of Teachers (NUT) annual conference in Harrogate are calling on the government to launch an inquiry into "teacher ill-health and premature retirement", in other words, bullying and stress. There will also be calls for a special union conference focusing on stress and workplace bullying.

Teachers commit suicide after OFSTED inspection

7 April 2000: Pamela Relf, a teacher of 36 years experience, took her life after an Ofsted inspector criticised her teaching at Middlefield Primary School in Eynesbury, Cambridgeshire. The school's most senior teacher left a note echoing the sentiments of many teachers today, saying "I am now finding the stress of my job too much. The pace of work and the long days are more than I can do."

The deaths of three other teachers have been linked to stress, bullying and Ofsted inspections: Janet Watson (33) of Northwich, Cheshire, Jenny Knibb (47) of Exeter, and James Patton (29) of Birmingham. Other cases have been identified.

Whilst suicide is usually regarded as a mental health problem, it can also be the the result of psychiatric injury caused by prolonged negative stress. Psychiatric injury is not the same as mental illness; click here for details. Employers have a duty of care under the UK Health and Safety At Work Act (1974) to provide both a safe place of work and a safe system of work. Prolonged negative stress, such as that caused by impending OFSTED inspections, is a breach of that duty of care. Suicide resulting from psychiatric injury caused by prolonged negative stress is thus tantamount to manslaughter. To see how stress leads to suicide click here.

18 April 2000: The Association of Teachers and lecturers (ATL) is tabling an emergency resolution "deeply regretting the suicide of two teachers because of Ofsted-induced stress" at their annual conference in Belfast. In an acrimonious exchange between ATL General Secretary Peter Smith and OFSTED head Chris Woodhead, Mr Smith accused Mr Woodhead of being "gratuitously offensive" to which Mr Woodhead accused Mr Smith of "unwarranted and patronising assumption of moral superiority". Mr Woodhead has previously been accused of lying over his relationship with a school-age girl, accepted a 34% pay rise when teachers received only 3%, and sacked an OFSTED inspector one week and gave him a glowing reference the next.

Resigning for respect

"And so off I go, into a new career where the workload is probably just as heavy, but where I hope I will not be bullied and will not have to bully anyone else into working."

For an eloquent resignation see Andrew Riddles' explanation why after six years of teaching he is quitting the profession for a job which pays a salary commensurate with ability and which is free of harassment, bullying and petty, irrelevant rules with which education system bureaucrats are obsessed.

To see the connection between school uniform and sexual abuse of children, click here.


A 24-hour counselling helpline called Teacherline set up in October 1999 for stressed teachers in England and Wales receives a thousand calls a month. The most commonly reported problems are OFSTED inspections, excessive workloads, long working hours, and pupil misbehaviour. Problems with fellow teachers, department heads and head teachers also feature strongly. Many teachers say the feel undervalued and overwhelmed.

The helpline is run by the charity Teachers Benefits Fund which has been rebranded as Teacher Support Network, having now dropped the TBF. Teacherline is now called Teacher Support Line. The aim is to save 18 million through reduced absenteeism and sickness rates. However, any attempt to identify and deal with the causes of stress is conspicuous by its absence. Call and be counted - and identify what and who is the cause of your stress.

If you're a stressed-out teacher (eg dealing with bullying at school) you can call

Teacher Support Line on 08000 562 561

or you can e-mail from the web site

Teacherline reports that teachers are four times more likely to experience stress at work than employees in other professions. Researcher carried out for the Teachers' Benevolent Fund revealed that 200,000 teachers have complained of stress over the past two years. 85,000 teachers reported pupil aggression and 58,000 reported aggression from parents.

27 October 2000: the first annual report of Teacherline, a telephone counselling service for stressed teachers, reveals that 1,000 teachers a month call the helpline. Of the 12,000 calls, 27% are about stress, anxiety and depression, 14% report conflict with managers, 9% are about workload, 9% have suffered loss of confidence, whilst 7% report "severe" problems comprising risk of suicide, major depression or substance dependency.

The charity has previously found that teachers are four times more likely to suffer stress than other other professions. TBF says it is has taken aback by the size and severity of problems - however those working in this field are not surprised. Teachers and lecturers have consistently been the largest group of callers to the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line since its inception in January 1996.

Poll reveals teacher haemorrhage

29 February 2000: An ICM poll in the Guardian newspaper reveals that 53% of teachers and lecturers expect to leave the profession within 10 years due to excessive workloads, bureaucracy, and stress.

NAHT issue bullying guidelines

4 January 2000: The National Association of Head Teachers (NAHT) union have produced a guidance document on bullying for its members. The document contains information on bullying between children and bullying between staff. The guidelines are online at

Information for Teachers

The terms and condition of employment of teachers are determined by various Education Acts. The procedures, processes, composition of bodies, etc are defined in law.

The 1988 Education Act defines the terms and conditions under which a teacher shall be employed and cease to be employed. Teachers are treated differently from other employees, and knowing the difference can make all the difference.

You can also call the DfEE on Tel 0171 925 5000 and ask either for Tony Dunne in Teachers' Branch, or the Governors' Advice Branch. The latter is subdivided into grant maintained and locally maintained, and you can gain advice on what governors can and cannot do, in lay terms. The Governors guide to the law, available from the Publications Department, contains regulations pertaining to who is responsible for disciplinary process etc.

In state schools, a case against an employee can only be made on disciplinary or competence grounds; beware that when fighting unjust disciplinary action by the bully, the governors and the LEA may play a ping-pong of denial of responsibility. In a grant-maintained school, both panels are within the school. In independent schools, the provisions of the 1996 Employment Rights Act apply.

A teacher cannot be dismissed on ill-health grounds until a medical hearing has sat, examined the case and adjudicated. To dismiss without this hearing is a breach of contract.

Any decisions and actions which do not conform to the statutory rules and regulations may be deemed ultra vires (beyond legal authority), ie flawed and therefore nullified by a court.

This is a summary of my understanding of the current position.

Ratcliffe v. Pembrokeshire County Council, July 1998

Anthony Ratcliffe was a deputy head teacher at Sagerston Primary School in Carew, near Tenby in Wales. On appointment, he was made to feel an outsider, denied keys to the school building, and his wife was prevented from providing unpaid assistance in setting up classroom displays. At a Christmas party he was tricked into presenting a chocolate penis to a 70-year-old spinster, resulting in humiliation and embarrassment in front of colleagues. A bottle of wine he had brought in for the occasion had been relabelled "randy brandy". These were not isolated incidents, but the worst of many bullying incidents, including being prevented from playing a full role in the running of the school. Eventually, and in an echo of Walker v. Northumberland County Council, Mr Ratcliffe suffered two stress breakdowns in October 1992 and July 1993. His union ATL supported his case for compensation which was settled this week (17/7/98) with an out-of-court payment of 101,000.

Comment: Mr Ratcliffe's case echoes the 600 or so other cases of teachers being bullied out of their jobs by aggressive colleagues or heads. The practical jokes at the Christmas party, which the media highlighted for obvious reasons, were the tip of the iceberg as the bullying followed its predictable pattern. To see what bullying does to your health, click here; for insight into psychiatric injury, click here. Frequently in cases of bullying, and especially in schools, the serial bully (who is usually a head of department or head teacher) has an unusual attitude towards sexual behaviour; sometimes there are suspicions of sexual abuse.

Incidentally, what is a practical joke to one person can be harassment to another. Under the Protection from Harassment Act (1996), and for the first time in UK law, it is the perception of the target of harassment which is taken into account, not the alleged intent of the harasser. The old excuses of "It's only a joke" or "Can't you take a joke?" or "You're too sensitive" etc no longer hold water. It is by use of these excuses - which are an abdication and denial of responsibility - that harassers betray themselves.

Turner v. Bedfordshire County Council, June 1999

Teacher Fiona Turner claimed constructive dismissal after two years of bullying by head teacher Valerie Fitzhugh which had made Ms Turner's life intolerable. Ms Fitzhugh based her case on allegations that Ms Turner made a short private telephone call without permission, and used, but did not pay for, two pages of photocopying paper. The bullying escalated when Ms Turner arrived late for school one morning after her daughter's school had issued a meningitis warning (see vulnerability below). Ms Fitzhugh then initiated disciplinary action against Ms Turner despite Ms Turner having contacted the school to report the fact that she would be late, and also despite the fact that Ms Turner had a contractual right three days leave of absence in any one year to attend a sick child.

The hearing collapsed when Ms Fitzhugh and chair of the governors Andrew Whitehead conceded the case. Whilst Ms Turner was awarded only 2880.50 in compensation, a bullying scenario, which in this case lasted for two years, will have cost the council tax payers of Bedfordshire in excess of 100,000, possibly much more, given the time devoted to bullying, the impairment of performance caused by bullying, the number of people involved in investigation, unwarranted disciplinary action, legal action, preparation for tribunal, solicitors fees, barristers fees, etc. Expensive photocopying indeed.

Schools in which bullying and intimidation are rife are schools in which pupils are prevented from following their studies, end up with grades lower than they would otherwise be, and have their potential impaired.

The case was reported in the TES (11 June 1999) on p13 of the School Management Update.

Benson v. Wirral Metropolitan Borough

1999: Muriel Benson received a 47,000 out-of-court settlement from her former employer Wirral Metropolitan Borough after she was forced into ill-health retirement through excessive workload which she first reported to her employer in 1988. See BBC News Online at and use the search facility at the bottom of the page with the search term "Muriel Benson".

Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council and the Governing Body of Bishopton Redmarshall Church of England Primary School

3 May 2000: in the case of Hetherington v. Darlington Borough Council, deputy head Geoff Hetherington has won a unanimous verdict that he was unfairly dismissed. Thornaby Employment Tribunal heard former deputy head teacher Mr Hetherington describe how the arrival in 1995 of new head teacher Mrs Gill Wray led to a period of constant criticism, excessive monitoring and a tirade of unsubstantiated allegations of underperformance which brought to an unexpected end a successful 25-year career. Despite the unanimous verdict, the tribunal failed to demand substantive and quantifiable evidence from respondent head teacher Mrs Gill Wray for her allegations of underperformance. The LEA and head teacher's union NAHT backed Mrs Wray but also failed to substantiate any of Mrs Wray's specious claims.

A v. Shropshire County Council

11 May 2000: a 45-year-old Shropshire teacher has accepted 300,000 compensation for a career wrecked by the bullying a new female head teacher. The teacher, who specialised in working with emotionally and behaviourally disturbed children, experienced a stress breakdown following a year of confrontations with the headmistress whose methods he questioned. The behaviour of the headmistress, which Shropshire LEA admits as "management difficulties", resulted in the destruction of a popular and successful employee previously tipped as a headmaster but who is now described as a "recluse". He asked not to be named.

The National Union of Teachers (NUT), who supported the teacher in bringing his case, said problems began in January 1995 when a new head was appointed. It stated: "Previously the school had run on team lines but the new head would not listen to suggestions from experienced staff. She failed to demonstrate consistency in disciplinary policies, ignored the concerns of staff, and rejected criticism from experienced teachers."

The UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line has received numerous calls from teachers being bullied in schools and special units which care for disabled or disturbed children.

Pepper v. Reading Borough Council

14 June 2000: false allegations which resulted in the unfair sacking of former deputy head teacher have cost Berkshire taxpayers hundreds of thousands of pounds. Cherryll Pepper found herself suspended from work in July 1996 when the school's new head teacher Lyn Hurst wrongly accused her of gross misconduct. The consequent stress of high workloads and malicious allegations led to a near breakdown and the loss of her career.

An employment tribunal in 1998 concluded it was "a blatant case of unfair dismissal against an applicant who was blameless".

Mrs Pepper, who was supported by the NAHT, now wants an independent watchdog to be formed to investigate claims of malpractice against local education authorities and governing bodies.

Howell v. Newport County Borough Council (formerly Gwent County Council)

4 December 2000: in Howell v. Newport County Borough Council (formerly Gwent County Council), former teacher Janice Howell received 254,362 compensation for a career destroyed by stress. Mrs Howell, a teacher of 24 years experience, was teaching at Maindee Junior School in Newport, South Wales. Her class of 28 pupils contained 11 special needs pupils including one extremely disturbed pupil who had been expelled from two previous schools. Despite Mrs Howell's request for classroom support, none was forthcoming, indeed a nursery nurse was removed. Newport County Borough Council (formerly Gwent County Council) admitted liability in January 2000. A special task force subsequently found severe management failings at the school and the Head and Deputy were removed. See NASUWT press release for more information.

Barber v. Somerset County Council

9 March 2001: former maths department head Alan Barber has been awarded 100,000 damages for stress suffered whilst at East Bridgewater School in Somerset. The court heard how Mr Barber suffered depression following "brusque, autocratic and bullying" behaviour of head teacher Margaret Hayward. A restructuring exercise meant that Mr Barber's workload increased but resources were withdrawn. Despite being alerted, the school responded unsympathetically and did nothing to alleviate the situation. Somerset County Council plan to appeal.

Browell v. Northumberland County Council

11 October 2001: primary school teacher Christine Browell has gained a 100,000 out-of-court settlement against Northumberland County Council after they failed to deal with claims of bullying by the former head teacher of Mowbray First School in Guidepost, near Choppington, Northumberland. The council refused to admit liability, claiming she did not use formal grievance procedures to make her complaint that the head had harangued her in public. However, grievance procedures are inadequate in bullying cases, especially where the bully is the person to whom one would normally take the grievance.

Bullying of teachers - the patterns which reveal bullying

Serial bullies have a history of bullying, ie a string of previous targets who have been dismissed, taken early or ill-health retirement, or who have left under suspicious circumstances. See INSTED below.

The pattern of bullying is always the same:

Unfortunately, the governor system does not work in cases where you have a bullying head; either the governors just rubber-stamp the head's decisions (as volunteers they have no management training, lack knowledge of bullying, and do not have investigative skills), or the head has manoeuvred a "friend" into the position of chair of governors - with the same result.
When the teacher appeals to the governors, the governors either don't know what to do, or don't want to know, or recommend the person talks to the LEA. The LEA almost always refer the person back to the governors; this ping-pong of denial often lasts a year or more. In the meantime, the stress of doing one's job, pursuing grievance, etc results in the teacher being on permanent sick leave and after a year may be dismissed on ill-health grounds under the terms of the employment contract. If you're pursuing a personal injury/breach of duty of care action, the pages on health and PTSD is essential reading.

Information for lecturers

If you're a lecturer experiencing bullying, you might like to contact the Campaign for Academic Freedom and Academic Standards.

Support groups

Web site for bullied teachers:

Teachers get support and chat facility: TeachersUK is a non-commercial msn group which was set up after it was clear from those teachers who posted on the TES website forums, that there was a need for a more interactive form of support and communication. It offers chat facilities which provides, social interaction as well as support and advice for its members and visitors. One of our chat hosts is a Teachers Union official who is online every Sunday night form 7-8pm (UK) to field questions from concerned members regarding their work. It has proved invaluable for the 200+ members it currently has and is one of the few facilities like it:

DAWN - Dignity At Work Now is a bullying in the workplace support and campaign group in the West Midlands, England. Membership is open to anyone with experience of or interest in bullying including targets, their families, professionals, etc. Meetings are held on the first Wednesday of each month. For more information and membership details email

If you're a teacher (or public sector employee) in Oxfordshire (or surrounding counties) who is being bullied, you might like to contact the support group OXBOW (Oxfordshire employees Bullied Out of Work) which meets in Oxford: Jenni Chesterton Tel 01367 710308.

Berkshire and Surrey workplace bullying support group was founded in February 2000 as a self-help and support group for people who have experienced stress through bullying at work. Meetings are currently every other month. The group focus is on individuals moving forward and meetings are in a positive vein. Contact Jo Butcher, tel 01753 861706.

FACT supports carers and teachers falsely accused of abuse against children.

Teachers Against Bullying is a teacher support group based in Dublin, Ireland. Click here for details.

If you're a partner of a stressed teacher, you might like to contact the new self-help and mutual support organisation COSST, Concerned Spouses of Suffering/Stressed Teachers: Peter Lewis, 22 Marlborough Rise, Aston, Sheffield S26 2ET, Tel 0114 287 3087. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope when enquiring.

For the latest list of other support groups, click here.

For information on setting up a support group, click here.

Web sites

Education Heretics questions the dogmas of schooling in particular, and education in general.

The American Society for Ethics in Education exposes unethical and corrupt behaviour in the US education system.


Some snippets from the TES (Times Educational Supplement) and elsewhere give an indication of the state of education in the UK. This page will be updated regularly. Contributions welcome.

Most over-45's are unhappy at work: Widespread levels of dissatisfaction in schools - particularly among the older, more experienced staff - are revealed in a survey commissioned by the NUT. Fewer than half the teachers aged 45+ were satisfied with their job. (TES 21 March 97)

More spent on tests than on textbooks: Three times as much is spent on tests for seven-year-olds as on books to help them learn the basics. (TES 16 January 98)

Tory competition fails to raise standards: competition between schools is not raising exam standards, research by the Open University has found. If anything, the free market seems to depress results ... higher scores in grant-maintained schools are largely due to improvements in intake. (TES, 9 January 98)

GM primary headships are the toughest to fill: The shortage of head teachers and deputies is back to the level of 10 years ago. (TES 16 January 98)

Early retirement takes it toll at the top: Nine per cent of all state schools advertised for a head teacher last year - and a substantial number failed to find one. (TES 16 January 98)

Resignation numbers rise: The number of teachers leaving their jobs has risen for the third successive year, with thousands quitting the profession altogether, a new study shows. The study, from the Local Government management board, reveals that resignations are highest among the under-30's and older teachers due to ill-health and premature retirement. (TES 16 January 98)

Heading for crisis as iceberg surfaces? As vacancies rise and recruitment to teacher training courses falls, will the DfEE and OFSTED regret playing down fears? John Howson writing in the TES, 5 December 97

9% of all state schools advertised for a head teacher last year (1997) - and a substantial number failed to find one. (TES 16 January 98)

Goodbye to 20,000 teachers: government figures released this week show that the number of young people applying for places on teacher training courses has fallen while the number of teachers departing rises. (TES 5 December 97)

Early retirement 'drains' Britain: The OECD is recommending a huge switch away from early retirement packages and into adult education. (Reported in the TES, April 1998) But why are so many teachers retiring early? What is the cause?

In order to stem the tide of early and ill-health retirements, the government responded by making rules for ill-health retirement stricter. The government has studiously avoided asking why so many teachers need to apply for ill-health retirement. This web page reveals why.

Every day, Britain's schools need some 13,000 supply teachers - and paying for them costs [taxpayers] 300 million each year. (TES, 19 December 97)

200 teaching jobs face the axe: More than 200 teaching jobs are to go in Buckinghamshire in what heads are calling the worst financial crisis they can remember (TES, 27 March 98)

1 teacher in 5 is on a short-term contract, and the trend in non-standard working patterns is increasing says the Local Government Management Board. 1 in 8 Local Authority employees is on a short-term contract, twice the proportion of employees in the private sector. (Reported on Teletext, 18 January 98)

Teaching seen as second-rate profession. (TES, 20 February 98)

Schools rebel against 'impossible' timetable: Headteachers condemn the government's plans to introduce a five-subject sixth form, citing that there aren't enough hours in the week and ministerial ignorance of professional advice. (Reported in the TES, April 1998)

Charity tells of soaring debts among teachers. (TES 6 February 98)

While millions of pounds are spent on parties for pop stars at No 10, refurbishing palatial ministerial apartments and taking girlfriends on foreign trips, lowly-paid public sector employees are screwed to save the Treasury a few miserable pounds. The anger it will generate is out of all proportion to the small savings made. Nigel de Gruchy, General Secretary, NASUWT

81 million bill for lost talent: excluded pupils cost the taxpayer more than twice as much as it would have taken to educate them full-time, according to a study by the New Policy Institute. (TES, 24 April 98)

More staff bullied: bullying of teachers by senior staff is on the increase in Scottish schools, according to a union (EIS) survey. Many teachers are too frightened to report bullying in case it ruins their careers. (TES 9 January 98)

Majority of schools admit gay bullying. (TES 13 March 98)

Bad girls start bullying earlier: Professor Dieter Volkes of Hertfordshire University has found that bullying by girls has long been underestimated ... and that ... girls may well be described as being as aggressive as boys. (TES, 20 March 98) Female bullies account for at least 50% of bullies reported through the UK National Workplace Bullying Advice Line (see statistics).

"I am not being a miserable so-and-so. We are in favour of homework being enjoyable, rewarding and often fun." David Blunkett, Education and Employment Secretary, April 1998 [Homework enjoyable? Fun??]

Catholic order apologises for sexual abuse: One of Ireland's largest Catholic orders, the Christian (sic) Brothers, has apologised for sexual and other abuse inflicted in schools. The apology follows a string of prosecutions over sex offences. (TES, 3 April 98) To see the links between corporal punishment and sexual abuse, click here.

Pension bar sparks suicide bid: desperate teachers are being driven to contemplate suicide because of increasing difficulties in gaining ill-health retirement, according to officials of NASUWT. (TES, 10 April 98)

"Pay teachers the salaries which recognise that without teachers there is no education, education, education." Doug McAvoy, NUT General Secretary, April 1998

DfEE (Department for Education and Employment) gimmicks

Laptops 'will cut teacher workload': nearly 10,000 laptop computers costing the taxpayer 23 million are to be handed out to heads and teachers in a bid to raise standards and reduce bureaucracy. (TES, 24 April 98)

Top consultancy to help pupils add up: the Government has asked consultants Coopers & Lybrand to send 60 staff into schools to help pupils with their maths. (TES, 17 April 98) [I thought that's what we employed maths teachers to do?]

Education quangos chiefs' salaries

'Outrageous' pay hike for quango chiefs: leaders of educational quangos have had pay rises twice as big as those given to classroom teachers over the last ten years. (TES, 21 February 98). Quango chiefs' salaries are:

Quango Chief Executive Annual salary Chairman Payment Days worked
Higher Education Funding Council for England Brian Fender 119,000 Brandon Gough 37,080 2
Further Education Funding Council for England Sir William Stubbs (retired) 109,000 Sir Robert Gunn 36,024 2
Funding Agency for Schools Michael Collier 86,000 Sir Christopher Benson 35,210 2
Office for Standards in Education (OFSTED) Chris Woodhead 115,000 - - -
Teacher Training Agency Anthea Millett 80,000 Geoffrey Parker 15,000 1
National Council for Vocational Qualifications John Hillier 79,731 Sir Michael Heron 18,462 1
School Curriculum and Assessment Authority Dr Nick Tate 78,740 Sir Ron Dearing 46,670 1
National Council for Educational Technology Margaret Bell 70,016 Heather Du Quesnay unpaid 0.5
Education Assets Board Stuart Hoare 59,628 Keith Bridge 26,523 2
Centre for Information on Language Teaching and Research Dr Lid King 38,423 Professor Martin Harris unpaid 1





To see some of the highest earners in education, click here.

At a time when councils are sacking teachers because of budget cuts, the 20 people above take over 1,000,000 between them every year. Value for money?


15,000 incompetent teachers! (Chris Woodhead, Chief Inspector, 1997)

3,000 incompetent heads! (Chris Woodhead, Chief Inspector, 1997)

Using the same basis for calculation, should we not expect to find 1 incompetent Chief Inspector?

If there really are that number of incompetent teachers, there must be the same number of incompetent managers who allow these teachers to remain incompetent, and a similar number of incompetent LEA staff who recruited them in the first place.

Inspections get TV grilling: Channel 4 Dispatches has revealed that inspectors almost never use grades 1 (excellent) or 7 (very poor) despite Chris Woodhead's infamous '15,000 incompetent teachers' debacle. Grades 3, 4 and 5 account for 95% or markings. OFSTED costs taxpayers over 100 million each year to tell us what we already know - that most teachers are 'average' and 'OK'.

Chief inspector's role 'out of control' TES, 27 March 98

Inspections: a 120 million growth industry: when OFSTED announced that contracts for school inspections would be awarded competitively, a multi-million pound industry sprang from nowhere. With the contract to inspect just one school earning as much as 26,000, there was a huge incentive for former civil servants to become thrusting entrepreneurs, reports the TES on 19/11/97. There are around 9000 inspectors, many of whom also sell themselves to schools (at taxpayers' expense) for pre-OFSTED consultations and advice. How much training, experience and competence many of these inspectors have, with tales of failed teachers and heads being "encouraged" to move on and into inspection. Reports from the Advice Line suggest that many of the "15,000 incompetent teachers" and "3000 incompetent heads" are now working for the man who identified them - Chris Woodhead. Those who can, do; those who can't, inspect?

'1billion' inspection regime fails to raise standards claims Philip Hunter, president of the Society of Education Officers. '... the national curriculum, grant-maintained schools and OFSTED have done little to raise standards but have cost 3 billion. It is a lot to pay for public confidence alone.' (TES, 16 January 98)

"Fifth of 19-year-olds struggle to read", Ngaio Crequer on Sir Claus Moser's discovery of horrendous lack of basic skills (TES, 2000)

"It is ridiculous to assume a school is necessarily going to improve because it has been inspected." OFSTED Chief Inspector Chris Woodhead, May 1998

"A bad school inspection is like a hot air ballon with a slow puncture: one little prick can ruin months of hard work." (Professor Ted Wragg writing in the TES, 11 June 1999)

I was planning to devote a whole page to the iniquities of OFSTED but I only have 25 megabytes of web space.

League tables

A-level results not important for employers: companies think schools put too much emphasis on qualifications and mislead pupils into believing that GCSEs and A-levels are the key to a job, reveals a report today. (Daily Telegraph, 19 August 98)

A-levels are a poor test of ability:

More than one third of secondary school pupils have been bullied over the past year, according to a poll for the Association of Teachers and Lecturers (Teletext, 11 April 98). Bullying prevent pupils from undertaking their studies, leading to poorer exam results than they would otherwise achieve, which in turn affects a school's position in league tables.

Gemma is 9 and is statemented. Her special needs require additional classroom assistance and her academic ability is impaired. Gemma is attending School A where her parents feel she is not achieving all she could. They have heard that School B, also nearby, has a good reputation for integrating and supporting special needs children. An application is made to transfer Gemma from School A to School B. However, the Head of School B knows that if Gemma is transferred, School B's national test results will be decreased and School A's results will increase. Despite being sympathetic, the transfer application is rejected.
So who benefits from league tables? The children? The parents? The school?

A career in teaching - is it for you?

"Teaching is the least family-friendly profession. Teachers who are also parents are
working very long hours during term time and are falling over in the holidays.
Peter Smith, General Secretary of ATL, the Association of Teachers and Lecturers,
quoted in the TES, 10 September 1999

Many people take up teaching because they enjoy working with children. However, before you embark on a career in teaching, bear in mind the following:

Still to come...

Insight into standards in education (INSTED)

One might gain the impression that OFSTED reports and positions in league tables tell all. However, they show only one aspect. In my view, the following information provides a more accurate picture of a school's performance:

"One could be forgiven for thinking that the sole purpose of tests, assessments and exams is to generate statistical data for league tables which the government can then use to prove (sic) the effectiveness of its education policy. Children have gone from being the objective of education to becoming the means to supplying data. I regard this as a betrayal." Tim Field


ATL's Bullying at work: a guide for teachers

NUT (use the seach facility for "bullying")

NATFHE's Health & Safety page

Chalkface provides teachers with educational resources

Tilting at Windmills: memoirs of a school governor, Justine Williams, Berwick Press, ISBN 0-9548276-0-0, 2004, a cautionary tale of corporate bullying (and a story familiar to any bullied teacher)

Recommended reading on bullying, harassment, victimisation and psychological violence

bully in sight, how to, predict, resist, challenge, combat, workplace bullying, overcoming, overcome,
silence, denial, abuse, thrives, tim, field, success, unlimited    ptsd, post, traumatic, stress, disorder, invisible, injury, david, kinchin, success, unlimited    bullycide, death, playtime, play, time, expose, child, suicide, caused, school, bullying, 
neil, marr, tim, field, success, unlimited

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