Expecting people to perform is not bullying, says boss

Daljit Lally, executive director of adult care at Northumberland Care Trust.
Daljit Lally, executive director of adult care at Northumberland Care Trust.

A county education chief used a recent council meeting to ‘set the record straight’ on a controversial letter sent out to headteachers.

In December, the Gazette reported that a letter sent by Northumberland County Council’s new corporate director of children’s services, Daljit Lally, to all heads in the region was branded as bullying and confrontational by the National Union of Teachers (NUT).

In the correspondence, she stated that a conference held earlier in the month confirmed some of the views expressed by outside parties about the county’s educational system, which was branded inward-looking, unwilling to embrace change and lacking leadership.

Ms Lally also warned that ‘mediocre, complacent leadership and outcomes which are poor or just adequate are no longer acceptable’ and that ‘action will be taken in cases when schools don’t improve or continue to coast’.

At Tuesday’s meeting, Ms Lally explained that the NUT representative who spoke out was not at the headteachers’ conference, to which the letter was a follow-up, and therefore missed the context.

“Expecting people to perform is not bullying,” she said.

“I think we need to be clear that in terms of the letter, there was absolutely no intention of bullying or being disrespectful.

“But it’s the absolute minority of people who have come back with issues.”

Coun Robert Arckless, policy board member for children’s services, had backed ‘tough but fair’ Ms Lally at the time and reiterated his support this week.

“I have got every confidence that we can turn this around,” he said.

“I have got every confidence in Daljit as the new director, she has the right management skills to take this forward.”