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Young teachers 'suffer harassment'

Nearly half of young teachers say they have been discriminated against during their career because of their age, a conference has heard.

Two-thirds of those attending the teaching union NASUWT's Young Teachers' Consultation Conference in Birmingham said they had experienced bullying and harassment at work, with more than a quarter being bullied by senior management in their schools.

An electronic poll of delegates found that nearly half (48%) had been discriminated against because of their age while working as a teacher.

More than a quarter (28%) had experienced bullying and harassment from senior management, and overall two-thirds had experienced bullying at work, either from management, colleagues, pupils or parents.

Excessive workload was the main concern of three-quarters of young teachers, while all (100%) said they do not think the Government understands the day-to-day realities of teaching and 85% feel the Government does not respect or value teachers.

More than two-thirds (69%) said that pay matters to new recruits and those considering teaching as a career, while 40% said that secure employment and fair access to pay progression would most encourage them to stay in teaching long-term.

Chris Keates, general secretary of the NASUWT, who addressed the conference, said: "It was clear that the young teachers at the conference are absolutely and fully committed to being great teachers and to serving the children and young people they teach.

"However, it is deeply worrying, although unfortunately not surprising, that their commitment is being undermined by bullying and harassment and their energy and enthusiasm sapped by excessive workload and working hours.

"The coalition Government has created a climate in which poor management practices can flourish, which is why the incidence of bullying and harassment is increasing.

"Young teachers are the future of the profession, a future which is being severely compromised by this Coalition's failure to encourage and secure employment practices which nurture and value teachers and their professionalism."

The conference is an annual event which is open to any member under the age of 30. Some 200 people attended, and took part in the survey.

A Department for Education spokesman said: "We know that our teachers and school leaders are exceptionally hard-working professionals - and they can suffer stress in the workplace.

"An unnecessarily high workload, often caused by needless bureaucracy, can contribute to this, stopping teachers from spending time on the things that make a real difference to their pupils.

"We are working with the profession to address these long-standing problems and in October we launched our teacher workload challenge, which received more than 44,000 responses.

"We will use these to build on the steps we have already taken to tackle workload, and will publish a concrete plan for action in the coming month."

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