Who can stop the Bullying of Teachers and How?

The Unions (PPTA, NZEI, IESA)

The first step must be the Unions just recognising the problem and accepting responsibility for representing their member’s needs for security. Being prepared to take justified cases the full distance through the courts and set the precedents and dedicating there combined resources to disempowering the bullies. Cases of this type protect all members and put the Board’s of Trustees (BOT) on notice that there is “Zero Tolerance”.

The Minister (Hon Anne Tolley).

The Minister needs to come out with a clear policy of “Zero Tolerance” of bullying in the workplace and remind the BOT’s that the public indemnity they enjoy through the Ministry of Education is based on acting in “good faith”. A requirement under the act and ensuring that the Education Review Office are actively auditing boards as “Good Employer’s”. Indemnity should be automatically denied to BOT’s that fail these tests. BOT’s are offered an almost bottomless pool of funds through the Ministry to fight claims by Teacher’s while the Teachers often must fund their own cases from often limited resource’s and face the liability of BOT legal costs as well if they are unable to afford detail investigations. Hardly conducive of natural justice and an area that must be addressed by ministerial intervention the tools are already in place just not in use. The Minister’s failure to act in this area would be an endorsement and approval of the bullying culture that exists.

The Ministry of Education. (Karen Sewell)

The Ministry needs to be more responsive with tools that already exist. Disregarded Sick Leave (DRSL) is the ultimate tool to protect teachers. But how is it managed when the stress related injuries occurred over a period of time are not covered by ACC.  Precedents already exist where cases against the Ministry of Education have been won and the Ministry has been ordered to include mental injury on the same footing as physical.  So why is there a problem? If a teachers claim for a work related stress disorder and the medical certificates clearly support this, The Ministry have been advised in discussion that this injury was caused by the management of the school. You would think that this would be an open and shut case of entitlement.  The management of the school had an opportunity to get an independent assessment at their cost but chose not to do this. The only reason I can see for this was that the independent doctor would have found in favour of the original diagnosis. We have no idea what is going on here but the approval DRSL is the responsibility of the Secretary of Education (Ms Sewell) and she has delegated this authority to the Industrial Relations Dept. within her Ministry. As you will read in an earlier post these people do not even respond to correspondence. Their lack of action and stonewalling behaviour is a direct reflection on the competence of the Secretary, Ms Sewell’. And left a bullied teacher on unpaid leave during the Christmas Period at the end of 09.  Their actions have amounted to support for and endorsement of the bullies.  The Ministry of Education was made aware of the issues on the 10/11/08.  The Ministry have been failing on every level since that date. They have failed to insure that their guidelines and the NAGS were followed. They have failed in responding to correspondence and they have failed to administer there responsibilities under the Education Act and the CA.  I hold Ms Sewell personally responsible and can see little action going forward without her being replaced and a complete culture change in the Ministry of Education.

Boards of Trustees

There is one very real difference the BOT’s can make. If they become aware of a bullying issue in their school involving their executive. They should act immediately to have this independently investigated. They are offered this facility by the School Trustees Assn. (STA).  Where competence issues arise as part of the same process the Board needs to take control through an appropriately appointed sub committee and insure that the accusers’ are not judge, jury and executioner and that fair play and natural justice prevail. The Board of Logan Park High School (LPHS) in Dunedin offer the perfect example of what not to do.  I believe that on review of the evidence if the Ministry ever does the Board will not be found to have acted in good faith and be required to repay the costs so far to the Ministry.


There is little teachers can do if a school goes toxic either in protection of themselves or their colleagues without exposing themselves to the actions of the bullies.  Responsibility rests with the Ministry of Education.  There has been a proposal put forward for a new indemnity fund for teachers legal cost’s.  The plan for this fund is to focus on areas of interest and value to all teachers and the setting of precedents to protect all teachers. You can contact them in the first instance on teacher.idemnity.fund@gmail.com

Leave a Reply

Copyright © New Zealand Teachers Bullied at School     Powered by WordPress MU    Designed by WPDesigner    Hosted by