01 SES 08 B, Ethical Dilemmas and Workplace Bullying
Education systems and schools across Europe aspire to, and claim to be, harmonious caring environments intent on supporting and developing those who work and study there. Many include positive statements about a culture of care for the individual within their values statements and seek to implement it in their teaching and learning environments. However, sometimes these are more aspirational than realised, with strong evidence in some countries and schools (in the UK Higham and Earley, 2013, and more widely across Europe, Pont, Nusche, and Moorman, 2008) of an increasingly accountable, competitive and managerialist environment where inspections and rankings create anxiety and increase stress amongst teachers and their senior managers. Bullying at work is considered as a severe type of social stress (Einarsen, 1999) and it is widely acknowledged that stress and bullying have major effects on organisations including greater sickness absenteeism, impaired performance and higher turnover rates (Giga, Hoel and Lewis,2008).The workplace bullying of teachers is also found to be widespread (e.g. Australia: Djurkovic, McCormack & Casimir, 2008; Croatia, Russo et al, 2008; Ireland, INTO, 2000; New Zealand, Bentley et al, 2009; Turkey, Cemaloglu, 2011; USA: Fox & Stallworth, 2010).
There is no standard ‘label’ in use for workplace bullying: mobbing, bullying,, harassment and victimization are all commonly used terms. Whilst ‘bullying’ is the term most frequently used in the UK and Australia, this behaviour is referred to as ‘mobbing’ in Scandinavia and German speaking countries (Einarsen et al, 2011)
Although many definitions of workplace bullying are found in the literature, there is a general consensus regarding what constitutes bullying (Einarsen et al., 2003). For example, frequency, imbalance of power and repeated behaviours are mentioned in the majority of definitions. For a behaviour to qualify as bullying, it must be perceived by the victim as oppressive, unfair, humiliating, undermining, and threatening. Imbalance of power is frequently characterised as a criterion of bullying as each of the above definitions indicates. The importance of power structures and power imbalances in organizations can partly explain the large number of teachers in schools being bullied by their head teachers or senior management. However, bullying is not limited to vertical aggression from supervisors towards subordinates, for example in an NASUWT survey (2011) 20% of teachers named others, including Admin/Support staff and main scale teachers as the bully.
The problem of workplace bullying in UK schools has often been highlighted by Teaching Union reports, for example, an independent survey (ATL, 2011) found that over 25% of respondents reported being bullied . Earlier research (Bricheno & Thornton, 2006) found that 19% of teachers cited stress, and 10% cited bullying, as a reason for leaving teaching. Given the high occurrence of teacher bullying, its reported increase, its prevalence at all levels, its human and economic cost, and problems with teacher retention there is a need to illuminate the phenomenon of workplace bullying in schools, and the issues of teacher ill-health that so frequently accompany it.
This paper explores the relationship between ill-health and teachers who self identify as being bullied in their workplace; its impact on their personal and professional lives, and the actions they and their managers have taken to address it. The research, is based within a social constructivist/ social realist perspective (Young, 2008; Moore, 2000), wherein human agency in knowledge production is acknowledged (Durkheim, 1964), alongside patterns and tendencies that stretch beyond unique context dependent individual experiences. This perspective enables the development of improved understanding of the social and educational contexts that significantly shape and frame (but do not determine) participants actions, expectations and experiences of ill-health and bullying in their schools.
ATL Press release: http://www.atl.org.uk/media-office/media-archive/quarter-education-bullied-colleagues.asp Bentley, T., Catley, B., Cooper-Thomas, H., Gardner, D., O’Driscoll, M., Trenberth, L., 2009. Understanding Stress and Bullying in New Zealand Workplaces Final report to OH&S Steering Committee (Final report to OH&S Steering Committee). Bricheno, P., and Thornton, M. (2006) The Voices Of The Disenchanted: Why Teachers Leave Teaching. Paper presented at BERA 2006 University of Warwick 6-9 September. Cemaloglu, N., 2011. Primary principals’ leadership styles, school organizational health and workplace bullying. Journal of Educational Administration 49, 495–512. Djurkovic , McCormack, Casimir, 2008, Workplace bullying and intention to leave:the moderating effect of perceived organisational support Human Resource Management Journal, 18 (4): 405–422. Durkheim, E. (1964) The Division of Labor in Society, New York: Free Press of Glencoe. Einarsen, S. (1999) The Nature and Causes of Bullying at Work, International Journal of Manpower, 20 (1/2): 16-27. Einarsen, S., Hoel, H., Zapf, D., & Cooper, C.L. (2011). The concept of bullying at work: The European tradition. In S. Einarsen, H. Hoel, D. Zapf, & C.L. Cooper (Eds.), Bullying and Harassment in the workplace: Developments in Theory,Research and Practice (pp. 3–39). London: Taylor & Francis. Fox, S., Stallworth, L.E., 2010. The battered apple: An application of stressor-emotion control/support theory to teachers’ experience of violence and bullying. Human Relations 63, 927–954. Giga, S.I., Hoel, H., & Lewis, D. (2008) The Costs of Workplace Bullying, Research Commissioned by the Dignity at Work Partnership: A Partnership Project Funded Jointly by Unite the Union and the Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform. May 2008. Higham, R., Earley, P., 2013. School Autonomy and Government Control: School Leaders’ Views on a Changing Policy Landscape in England. Educational Management Administration & Leadership 41, 701–717. INTO, 2000. Staff Relations: A Report on Adult Bullying in Schools. Irish National Teachers’ Organization, Dublin. Pont, B., Moorman, H., Nusche, D., Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development, 2008a. Improving school leadership. Volume 1, Volume 1,. OECD, Paris. Moore, R. (2000) For knowledge: tradition, progressivism and progress in education – reconstructing the curriculum debate, Cambridge Journal of Education, 30: 17-36. Russo, A., Milić, R., Knežević, B., Mulić, R., Mustajbegović, J., 2008. Harassment in Workplace Among School Teachers: Development of Survey. Croatian medical journal 49, 545–552. Young, M. F. D. (2008) Bringing Knowledge Back In: From social constructivism to social realism in the sociology of education, London: Routledge.
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