Policies and procedures

Schools should provide a caring, constructive learning environment for pupils and safe, supportive working conditions for staff. All ATL members have the right to work in a climate of respect; they should not be subject to intimidating, hostile or humiliating treatment.

If parents are bullying or harassing you, your first step should be to inform the senior management at your school. They should take active measures to stop it; if they do not, seek advice from ATL. Bullying by a colleague or a governor is more difficult to control, but here again ATL can help.

Contact ATL for guidance and support.

A policy on bullying

ATL recommends that all schools should consult teachers and their unions to draw up a policy and procedure to address bullying of staff - it may help to read ATL's model policy.

Any policy and procedure adopted in your school should:

  • be clear and in plain English

  • explain each stage of the process, what to do and whom to approach

  • tell employees to whom they can turn if they wish to talk informally and in confidence

  • set time limits for action at each stage

  • allow the complainant to decide how he or she wishes to proceed

  • ensure prompt action once a complaint has been received

  • not require the complainant to discuss the complaint face-to-face with the alleged bully.

The policy and procedure will only be useful and effective if the staff know about, understand and, if necessary, use it. Schools must ensure that, once adopted, their policy and procedure are publicised, readily available, renewed regularly and accessible. Training on the contents of the policy - and refresher training - is also important and should form a part of induction.

What should the policy include?

Your school's policy and procedure should also:

  • ask the complainant to set out their complaint formally and in writing

  • ask the employer to acknowledge receipt of the complaint in writing

  • state that the harasser should be given written notification of the complaint and should be given full details of the allegation

  • provide a clear statement of how complaints will be investigated

  • provide a statement about safeguards and fair treatment for both the victim and the alleged harasser throughout the process

  • provide a statement of the responsibilities of those conducting any investigation.

Standards for handling the investigation

Standards for handling the investigation should ensure that:

  • there are written records of the investigation

  • all parties are fully informed of all the allegations against them

  • adequate time is given for both parties to prepare for meetings and that both parties are¬†aware of what procedure is to be followed

  • the complainant and the alleged harasser have the opportunity to be represented by a colleague, by ATL or any other trade union

  • the complaint is fully investigated, and heard as quickly as possible either by the senior management team or by an independent panel of governors

  • the complainant and alleged harasser are informed of the outcome of an investigation as soon as it is complete.

If the school operates a bullying and harassment procedure that is separate from disciplinary procedure, it must be clear which will take precedence from the outset.

Following the investigation, disciplinary action should be taken as quickly as possible if this is appropriate. Consideration should be given to separating the parties to the complaint, and if this happens it is the harasser who should be moved, transferred or suspended, not the person who has been harassed.

The employer must take also take steps to ensure that there is no further bullying or harassment and that the complainant is not victimised.

Bullying as a disciplinary matter

The policy should make provision, where a properly conducted investigation has established that bullying has taken place, for the bullying to be treated as a disciplinary matter. If your school has such a policy, you may be able to make the case that the behaviour of the person bullying you constitutes professional misconduct.

If there is no such policy, one way to take the issue forward is to invoke a grievance against the relevant individual or individuals. If your school does not have full contractual documents and/or a handbook with a specified disciplinary and grievance procedure, contact ATL.

You also have the statutory right to be accompanied by a colleague or trade union representative at disciplinary and grievance hearings.

FE national collective agreements

ATL and the Association of Colleges have agreed some national guidelines for colleges and FE institutions on harrassment and bullying (plus appendix).

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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