Playground to Staff Room: Bullying in the Workplace

As a profession, teachers are well equipped to deal with bullying. They’re specially trained as part of their teacher training to manage student’s behaviour, but how do teachers cope with bullying from colleagues or superiors in schools? This negative behaviour is prevalent in the workplace and having a negative effect on their confidence, career and general wellbeing. Teaching is a demanding profession and teachers withstand a huge amount of stress – but as in the playground, bullying is a growing problem for teachers.


Earlier this year, the NASUWT conducted a survey to ask teachers if they had experienced bullying in the workplace over the last year. The results were staggering. An incredible 2,000 teachers and headteachers took part with 4 out of 5 (80%) of teachers stating they had experienced bullying in the past year, and even more alarming, the bullying was from their Senior Leaders or Headteachers.


Headteachers are increasingly under pressure to meet targets set by the government as well as their local governing body, but is this reason enough to put added pressure on their teaching team? According to the NASUWT’s survey, reasons for bullying were diverse, but 84% of participants said that the bullying they experienced was ‘being undermined or belittled’ by a superior.  

Official Complaint?

So, what is the best way to deal with this negative behaviour and is it worth making an official complaint? Results from the NASUWT’s survey showed that 33% of staff that took part said that after following the procedures for official complaints no action was taken against the bully. 42% of the participants said they didn’t know if there was even a policy in place at their school for reporting bullying towards staff.   


Teachers weren’t confident that employers were doing enough to combat bullying of staff or taking appropriate action where needed.


Following on from the NASUWT survey, Kent-Teach ran a small survey of our own on our Facebook Community Forum and found a similar statistic of 87% of those that took part admitting to being bullied in the workplace.  

What help is out there?

If you, or a colleague are suffering from bullying in the workplace, it may feel as if there is no way out, but that’s where the Educational Support Partnership come in. ESP are a charity that offer mental health and support services to education staff and organisations. Their top tips for coping with bullying include:

Respond – Do not react

Try not to have an emotional reaction but respond in an assertive way.

Tackle bullying informally

Tackling it directly with the perpetrator can often solve the issue. Is it something you can sit down and discuss informally?  If so, the focus should be how their behaviour is affecting you. Try not to criticise the perpetrator.

Don’t bottle it up

Try to find someone to confide in. Ideally a colleague that you trust who may be able to give you a different perspective on the situation. Otherwise, speak to a family member or friend as often vocalising it can make you feel better about the situation.

Keep a diary

It’s good to keep a diary of what happens and when so that if you do decide to take a more formal approach within your organisation you will have a record of the behaviour as supporting evidence.

For more tips from the Educational Support Partnership, check out this article on their website.

The Educational Support Partnership also have a free confidential helpline which is available 24/7. There are qualified counsellors who can offer valuable support and guidance on finding the right solution for you. 

Staying motivated whilst suffering from bullying in the workplace can be difficult. If you need advice on how you can stay motivated at work, read our blog 7 Ways to Stay Motivated at Work.

Comments are closed