Bullied by our school bosses

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TEACHERS are threatening industrial action at more than 20 Sheffield schools - in protest against alleged bullying and excessive workloads imposed by senior staff.

Officers from the National Union of Teachers have written to the city’s education chief Dr Sonia Sharp calling on the authority to intervene.

And they are hoping to join forces with union NASUWT to take action against what they call a ‘culture of fear’ and ‘insane pressures’ in some schools.

Schools causing special concern to the NUT include The City School at Stradbroke and Heritage Park Special School at Norfolk Park.

Investigations into problems at a number of other schools - including Emmanuel and Anns Grove primaries - are still at an early stage.

Many of the schools under the spotlight are in areas with the most socially disadvantaged catchment areas - and the NUT says the list of those causing concern is growing.

The issue of stress on teachers has moved up the NUT’s agenda after trouble erupted at two Sheffield schools last year.

Staff at Westfield Sports College at Beighton accused their headteacher of bullying and intimidation, proposing a motion of no confidence. She has since left the school.

Then teachers at Darnall’s Greenlands Infants were thrown into crisis last term after a staff member was wrongly accused of assaulting a pupil.

Toby Mallinson, joint divisional secretary for Sheffield NUT, said there was growing concern over a more confrontational culture developing in many schools.

“It is not all down to the heads - there is huge pressure on them, too, and that comes from the very top, the Government,” he said.

“We saw an example just last week with moves to make the dismissal of teachers easier. There is very little that is positive coming our way.”

Mr Mallinson said the union had called on the council to intervene as they had a duty of care with regard to their employees.

“Our concerns include excessive workloads caused by endless new initiatives, a culture of fear and a breakdown of trust in some schools,” he said.

“It is always about next year’s results - it all contributes to widescale turnovers of staff which are highly damaging to children’s education.

“Too many teachers are also being made ill and forced out of jobs they once loved because of the oppressive regimes at many of our schools.”

The NASUWT is also taking action on the issue of workloads and has proposed industrial action short of a strike at schools causing concern.

Teachers are being urged to hold joint union meetings in their own schools to discuss tactics.

Dr Sharp, the council’s executive director for children, young people and families, said: “We have a long history of working positively with the unions and hold regular meetings with them to address any concerns they may have.

“The issues raised in their letter are best addressed through the strong and rigorous processes we already have in place.

“Like the schools, our priority is the city’s children. We recognise headteachers often have a difficult job to do in sometimes complex situations and they do have to take it seriously.

“Some things do need to change as it is important for schools to deliver good results for children and parents. “Therefore we encourage an approach of respect and co-operation from all involved – parents, pupils or teachers - to try to resolve any difficulties.”