Being bullied by a teacher

How to spot the signs and deal with bullying by a teacher

Generally speaking, teachers do a good job, often under stressful circumstances, so when your child complains they are being bullied by a teacher it's worth considering what might be behind it.

Possible reasons for conflict

  • Could your child be misbehaving in class?
  • Is your child misinterpreting the teacher's actions?
  • Is this the only teacher your child complains about?
  • Is the teacher trying to get him/her to produce better work?
  • Is the teacher unaware of personal circumstances in your family where jokes which might be inoffensive to most people upset your child?

Make some discreet enquiries amongst the parents of your child's friends. Overt unpleasant remarks are likely to be remembered by other children and reported to their parents. If other parents also have concerns about the way their children are being treated then that might indicate a problem.

Discuss with your child what sort of remarks are made and in what circumstances. If your child is being criticised for not completing work but is finding the work difficult then a simple call to the head of year, or a note to the teacher explaining the situation and asking for help should resolve the problem.

If you feel a teacher is taking issue with your child and it is becoming regular, you might want to consider making a written complaint to the head teacher, and then to the governors if the problem continues. Particularly if as far as you are aware your child has never had a problem with any other teacher.

How to resolve the problem

An informal approach to the head of year would be a good start but you must be prepared not to like the response if your child's behaviour is an issue. Bullying UK gets many complaints about teacher bullying accompanied by remarks like "I know my son's no angel" or "my daughter only refused to do as the teacher asked because she thought it was unfair". If a child is defiant and answers back then teachers are not going to accept that, and rightly so.

If you feel you have a genuine concern and the head of year hasn't been able to resolve it then make a complaint to the head teacher and if that isn't successful to the governors. However, it's much better to try to sort the problem out diplomatically at a much earlier stage because your child is likely to have contact with a teacher over a number of years.

Try not to overreact and stay calm when speaking to the school.  If you are worried about this then it is definitely worth putting your concerns in writing rather than have a verbal conversation.  It is normally a good idea to get things on a more formal footing anyway which can carry more weight.  Remember, there are always two sides to a situation but remember too that you know your child better than anyone.


How we can help you

If you would like support and advice, you can talk to one of our Family Support Workers by calling our confidential helpline on 0808 800 2222. You can also share experiences and advice with other parents on our Forums. Family Lives is here for you and you can contact us about any family issue, big or small.

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