Belfast Telegraph

Fifth of teachers turn to alcohol over workplace bullying: survey

Issues: Chris Keates
Issues: Chris Keates

By David Reed

Nearly one in five teachers claims they have been driven to alcohol because of workplace bullying, a survey has said.

A union warned the problem is ruining the lives of teachers, with many also left feeling depressed, anxious, lacking confidence and turning to the medical profession and medication.

It comes ahead of a major teaching conference in Belfast this weekend.

The survey of nearly 2,000 teachers by the teaching union the NASUWT found that 80% of teachers said they had suffered bullying in the last year.

Most incidents were perpetrated by headteachers, senior leaders and line managers.

One Northern Ireland teacher, who has 30 years' experience in the classroom, said his life was made more difficult by harassment from senior staff.

"Teaching is a difficult job but the pressure I came under from senior staff made it so much tougher," he said.

"I was pulled up on the smallest of things. In some cases I'd be in a room nearly an hour - on one occasion it got so bad that staff in another room could hear the shouting.

"When the issue of low staff morale was raised with the principal, they were just dismissive.

"I suffered quite a lot. It made it harder to do my job effectively," he added.

The issue of bullying has come under the spotlight ahead of the NASUWT's annual conference over Easter, held in Belfast from Good Friday to Easter Sunday.

Around 1,000 teachers from across the UK will be attending.

According to the union, bullying is having a serious impact on the mental health of teachers, with 80% saying they had suffered anxiety as a result of bullying they had experienced.

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

Over half of teachers (52%) have experienced depression because of bullying, with 41% 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% 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%).

Forms of bullying 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% of those who responded while half (51%) said they had been ignored or ostracised.

Nearly half (44%) had their work criticised in front of others, four in 10 (42%) were threatened with capability and more than a quarter (28%) said they had rumours spread about them.

More than half (52%) of teachers said the bullying situation in their workplace had got worse in the last year.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, said: "Evidence of bullying is 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.

"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."

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph