Minister Anne Tolley and the Ministry of Education Endorse Workplace Bullying and Dishonesty.

The Ministry and the government can’t say they are unaware of the bullying of teachers in schools, a report  prepared by a group including Professor Tim Bentley, Department of Management (Albany), Massey University, clearly identified concerns about workplace bullying in both the state funded Education and Health sectors and was first published in November 2009. You can read this report at . But the only action we have seen from the bureaucrats and our political leaders so far is to weaken the already ineffective controls and the Ministry of Education in the latest wage round wants to take away some of the protections teachers have and provide even more tools for the bullies in fact we’ve been deafened by the silence related to action. They are completely unwilling to use the options they have, these options are, the checks and balances that should have prevented this issue ever going this far. What the hell is going on?  This is a situation teachers must fight because until the bullying issues are addressed nobody can have any faith in their employer (the BOT’s) or the Ministry (not the employer. Yeah Right!). They use their bill payer status way beyond what any sane person would consider reasonable and for an involvement they should not have if they are not the employer.  I think the problems are directly related to the ministry’s inability to act in good faith with either the teaching personnel or the students and this is purely political interference.

This problem could be addressed at many levels. My feeling of the Kiwi way is to expect fair-play, honesty and giving everyone a fair deal, we always should strive to “do the right thing”. Many BOTs have proven themselves incapable of this and the Ministry Education and Minister have turned a blind eye (both have the power to act) and in my book have endorsed the bullying of teachers. I believe this problem comes right from the top and the Secretary of Education Karen Sewell must go in order for any effective cultural change to take effect in the sector. That she received a 4% increase in wages recently is an insult to every hard working person in New Zealand.  Karen Sewell is impossible to contact directly by email or phone and seems to be a complete technological dinosaur, her staff seem more than willing to mislead their Minister who seems to follow along quite willingly. The senior management of the Ministry’s southern region needs close examination and in my view replacing. While the issues I am chasing are a direct responsibility of the management and board of LPHS. It is the Ministry’s southern regional officers who have stonewalled and prevented any resolution. They expect without any evidence of an investigation to be able to just close things down.  What exactly are they afraid of? Their investigation to date has consisted of writing to the school and simply accepting everything the school responds with. That’s not an investigation in my book and the questioning needs to go far deeper. The Ministry has access to all the information I have and much more that I may be right? Well I’m very sure that I am and that Raymond Webb and Kathryn Palmer do not have the ability or the integrity to even begin a resolution.  They burnt their collective bridges long ago.

One thing that fascinates me and that Mr Raymond Webb has never explained is how a teacher whose competence has been questioned can achieved the Levels that XXXXXXX  did and how an offer of partnership in German language development  can be rejected by the Principal  Jane Johnson so quickly and even its existence kept secret from the teacher and I suspect all the other teaching staff in the school, although I do know that the HOD (Barbara Fitzsimons)  knew.  Fitzsimons is a teacher who forgets to show up for classes yet feels confident to question another teacher’s competence.  (There’s another whole story here but I will address this in a latter post). This partnership would have given the School equal standing with Takapuna Grammar School in Auckland and Burnside High School in Christchurch. It would have been such a point of difference and the opportunity for the school to build a centre for excellence in languages in Dunedin. Its rejection doesn’t make any sort of good management sense and it certainly placed all the students at a disadvantage along with the teaching staff and the school itself.  Why was it such a secret and how could the teacher that had achieved all this for them have had her competence questioned and her confidence so undermined.  I raised the point in an earlier post that students were disadvantaged in the CAPNA process. I also raised this issue with the Minister.  You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to work out that missing out on scholarships and resources and reverting to video classes puts students at a disadvantage.  But this is never mentioned. Instead The Minister made a request of Kathryn Palmer (who had earlier declared a conflict of interest to me. She has some sort of relationship to Tobin and should have stayed right away from this). Then wrote to the then BOT chair Margi MacMurdo-Reading The reply came Under the Principals signature  The last statement just seems off the planet considering the actions of the management over the previous year and a bit and the threats made by the same management. It’s not at all plain and the students did miss out as described earlier in this blog. But what really amazes me is that I never got a copy of the advice to the minister to her question. I do however have the minister’s reply to me and it seems unrelated to the question passed on by Palmer.

 The BOT and the Ministry have to answer this question and if it’s not a good enough answer the people need to be sacked. I’m betting the teaching staff at LPHS don’t even know about it and I’ve tried to check with the BOT through their Chair Alex King as I suspected the board were not even aware of the offer judging from how quickly it was rejected by Johnson. This speed in itself is amazing as all other correspondence with the school is drawn out to four weeks or even longer if they can stall it. I would have loved to have seen some BOT minutes that confirmed they were aware but Mr King has proved very unhelpful and seems unwilling to question any actions by the schools management and entrust them to resolve the issue. They are the issue Mr King.  Alex King is an Idiot who has problems answering a straight questions the man seems to lack any form of social conscience, I suspect if the Green Party knew the truth they would want rid of him the man’s about as un-kiwi as you could get .

Until the original questions regarding Johnson and Tobin and their honesty are answered all correspondence and claims by them must be treated with doubt.  If the police were to use the same investigative procedures for crime in our country as the Ministry of Education does our prisons would be empty and the whole country would be in the same mess as education.

There is little question that this school will not survive into the future unless there is some very radical action on the part of parents and Joy Johnson and Roger Tobin are removed from the equation. Parents can have no more faith in the honesty and integrity of the school than the staff. It truly has become in my view a moral and ethical wasteland. But at the same time a genuine example of the failure of the overall management structure that is “Tomorrows Schools”

Anne Tolley is most certainly the weakest and most ineffective Minister of Education we have ever known in this country. I for one am still waiting for the openness and accountability the National Party promised us before the last election.

One Response to “Minister Anne Tolley and the Ministry of Education Endorse Workplace Bullying and Dishonesty.”

  1. Great blog Shadow and thanks for the contact with other teachers. I will be writing up more of my experience so that it may help others-and there are many others. Meantime a book which was given to me in France is well worth looking at. Mobbing: Emotional Abuse in the Workplace. I forget the author (female) but you can Google it.
    They haven’t heard of the term here in NZ but it better fits what is happening I think. In France and Europe where there is so much legislation to protect workers employers use this strategy to ‘get rid of’ people. Bullying suggests that is a one on one situation but from what you are describing and what I have experienced mobbing is more apt: the lowest manifestation of violent collective human behaviour. It is compounded here by a very obvious tall poppy syndrome ( obvious because have been out of the country for so long and see it from an outsiders’ perspective) and a deluded belief that we have a great human rights system in place ( therefore the abuse of human rights can’t possibly happen here in paradise now can it?) and so it must be the victims’ fault. Christchurch is after all the town where Peter Ellis was persecuted and imprisoned on nothing but a few stories from a few four year olds. Why on earth do we believe that the workplace, in a recession, will be free of this because a politician has passed a few laws to say it is not allowed? How many dedicated, professional and competent teachers have been driven from their positions because a few little people have managed to get a little power, usually by foul means, which then they must defend at all costs by victimising anyone who is a threat simply because of, for example, overseas experience with a leading British Government institution in the EFL field (cultural cringe is still very much alive here) and self evident intelligence and competence in the job. Not to mention all of the courageous students who come out, bless them, at risk to themselves to say that they want their teacher to stay? Management, oddly enough, never seems to hear these voices. Yes it is a part of our Kiwi myth to expect fair play, but I have never experienced this in the education sector. I have experienced underqualified and inexperienced management at CPIT threatening me behind closed doors, like the local chapter of the bikie gang’s style, and then denying it, union delegates supporting their management mates, elicited defamatory comments being assumed to be correct and acted upon before even being asked whether there was any substance to them and all of the other examples of how bullying manifests (see bully online).
    I still run into old students asking me where have I been, that they have been looking for me and asking me to tutor them privately one year after this experience at CPIT. When it is safe for them to do so my former colleagues tell me quietly I still have ‘plenty of friends there’ although they are far too intimidated to come out into the open of course. There are some things these bullies will never be able to take away, and in the end the loss of dignity and integrity is all theirs. One good teacher who has been widely published and is known internationally left this environment-no amount of money is good enough to keep the good ones at CPIT. Yes we have unions but you know what happens to your job if you use them. Yes we have laws but at the end of a bewildering and abusive bullying and mobbing situation and your helath is beginning to break down very few have the energy and resources to fight.
    In my case most of my family died within three months, my mother very suddenly. Bullies choose their targets. I asked a union delegate if people could possibly sink any lower. He assured me that something far worse was happening to another male staff member who had broken down in tears and wanted to leave. The deleggate assured me that oh yes they can go much, much lower.
    So now I have recovered, I am stronger and I am free of this institution and moving on. They are still suffering, stuck in the jealousy, fear and degradation which comes from the abuse of their little bit of power in their tiny world. I wish them well and hope they are free of what must be a horrible state of being soon. And to the other victims, rectify what you are responsible for, but don’t believe them for a minute. You can’t fight them because victims of bullying simply aren’t used to operating in the sewer. Of course their strategy is to destabilise you and once off balance you are knocked down much more easily.That’s why we make easy targets. Plan your exit for the sake of your health and then blow the whistle loud and clear. You will help someone else just as exhausted, isolated, confused and hurt as you were before you worked out what was really going on.


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