May 13, 2007

Ofsted staff report rise in workplace bullying

By Debbie Andalo - Thursday May 10, 2007 -

Bullying at the schools inspectorate Ofsted has worsened in the last two years, according to the results of an internal staff survey. Some 23% of staff admitted that they had been subjected to bullying or harassment in the 12 months up to October 2006, compared with 21% in the 2004 staff survey.

Staff complained that they had to ask permission when they went to the toilet and they were only allowed to send two internal emails a day, it was reported.

In a statement the inspectorate said it had a no bullying culture and would not tolerate it in the workplace. It said: "Clear standards of behaviour are communicated to all staff and managers and one of our values is to respect and value one another. "Since the last survey was undertaken, a new chief inspector, Christine Gilbert, has joined Ofsted and she is determined to tackle this issue."

The new-look Ofsted was created in April from four separate offices, forming a single inspectorate for services for children and young people across social care and education. The statement said that the "new organisation as a whole is determined to tackle this issue."

The results of the staff survey, which had a 71% response rate, disappointed the civil service union the Public and Commercial Services (PCS) union, which represents Ofsted's administrative staff.

A union spokesman said: "Nothing has changed since the 2004 survey. There is still a feeling that this oppressive management style is still prevalent in parts of the organisation even though it has undergone a great period of change.

"Managers need to be properly trained in terms of management style and how to get the best out of people. Getting people to seek permission before they go to the toilet is not going to get the most out of people or the organisation as a whole."

Ofsted was unable to confirm staff claims that they had to seek permission to go to the toilet and were only allowed to send two internal emails a day.

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