Harassment within Scottish Secondary Schools is on the increase says the Scottish Secondary Teachers' Association.

“Harassment cases show the biggest upward trend among problems likely to be faced by Scottish secondary teachers. In 2003 the number of individual cases rose by over 40%. Only malicious complaints against teachers showed a trend approaching this figure” said David Eaglesham, General Secretary.

In giving reasons, he continued “Harassment often arises simply from the stress of the job but individual trends within harassment cases are also apparent. The gender cases (most clearly the bullying of junior female teacher by senior members of staff) continue to be the largest group. There seems, however, to be unfortunate trends in the harassment of more senior staff by juniors.

The clearest trend, however, has been in the harassment of staff by pupils and parents. In many of these cases, the mechanisms to protect staff are inadequate. There requires to be a greater involvement on the part of certain authorities in the protection of staff, both teaching and non-teaching. Many authorities will attempt to restrain parents who harass by the use of formal warnings in writing and this approach is to be commended. Some authorities, however, are far too reluctant to address such harassment. There is too much emphasis given to “rights” of parents and pupils and too little to the protection of employees.”

Mr Eaglesham continued by noting a recent SSTA decision relating to the training of senior staff. “It is clear that authorities, despite claims that they have in place procedures relating to harassment, need to do more. Harassment cases can be handled at school level only where senior managers are properly trained. The provision of a Harassment Policy alone is not enough.”

Further details from:David Eaglesham

General Secretary

27 December 2003