Olipa kerran erään suomalaisen kaupungin koulun rehtori tai kaksi … Toinen heistä meni X-rahoilla Englantiin, B:n kaupunkiin … jossa hän piti luennon mutta paperit unohtuivat häneltä sikäläisen koulun, luentosalin pöytään … Sieltä ne palautettiin kyseiseen kaupunkiin. Eikä olisi ollut mitään ongelmaakaan, mutta ne paperit joutuivatkin vääriin käsiin ja ne levisivät sähköpostitse ja FB:in kautta ken ties keille kaikille. Luennon tekstiä kauhistelee nyt koko kaupunki. Kaupunkilaiset vaativat kyseisten rehtorien toiminnan perinpohjaista tutkintaa. Niinpä kaupungin esimiehet rupesivatkin kuumeisesti tutkimaan (ei sitä, miten rehtori saattoi sellaisia siellä Englannissa koko Suomen häpeäksi puhua eikä niiden rehtoreiden toimintaa) vaan, että kuka Englannista tulleen kirjeen sai ensimmäisenä käteensä, kuka on vastuussa vuodosta. Tekijää ei vielä löytynyt.

”A Finnish school principal visited England together with some teachers to exchange experiences. He also gave a lecture. We found a draft of the lecture (stamped top secret) left on the lectern and sent it to you in Finland.
from …, 6.6.2014”

Dear English friends,
Dear School Management,
Dear School Office,

I’m the principal of the Finnish school of the X project. The topic of my lecture is “Everything, everything is top secret! – How should a school principal get rid of persons he doesn’t really like”


It can happen any time to a school principal that he cannot tolerate his subordinates or cannot see some of them. It’s just human. A subordinate like this is usually overzealous always having to do something for the kids, organising either a musiccamp or a trip or taking them to a competition, what’s more always having a lesson plan and starting the classes on time. In one word: intolerable.

As you must all know it is often enough for us school principals if this subordinate is a little bit more social and smarter than us. This may also induce undesirable psychological reactions from us. Let’s say honestly: this is the situation already intolerable. A subordinate is a subordinate. No meddling. Let dog eat dog and let it not be smarter than others anyway.

Well, we should be able to get rid of these subordinates/situations by all means. The problem lies in how to do it. I’m going to analyse this issue for you now.

A school principal is in a difficult situation in such cases for two reasons:

1. Unfortunately we have democracy in our countries and I cannot just kick out the colleague from the school however contented this would make me. A fault must be detected with the person.

2. Then this is problematic again. This kind of a subordinate is rarely caught red-handed because he performs the work conscientiously. We won’t catch this person making institutional mistakes. We, junior and senior section music teacher principals also have had a case or two like this. For instance, I myself had a music teacher, an afternoon teacher and two headmasters. They also worked day and night. Always had their minds on the students. Not like another colleague. It would have been easy to catch him. He doesn’t even go to classes or leaves the students alone in the middle of the class and goes home. And he goes to work somewhere else for months and only comes back for the summer holiday for the salary. They are not problematic (as long as the parents are reassured). Nor are problematic those like one of my teacher buddies. He could be caught easily again, I could record a million times that he is late for classes, puts the kettle on 5-10 minutes after class signal and he regularly lets the kids go home a quarter of an hour before the end of school period, even he himself cuts out very early. And he makes his students write down 20 or 30 times what mustn’t be done any more, etc. etc. It would have been enough to report to my seniors that he hadn’t had a word with his female colleagues for years, etc. Kicking him out could be as easy as shelling peas.

However, it is impossible to find any mistakes with these kid-maniac eager beavers and it’s also needless. It won’t have a result. And that’s our great worry. In such cases we principals need more finesse.

But let’s keep the line.

The way how you can get rid of an intolerable subordinate depends on several factors. Firstly on the legal context, secondly on the trade union, thirdly on the work environment, that is on how many colleagues can be gathered around you against the one to be kicked out, fourthly on whether the others can be terrified and fifthly on the character of the person to be kicked out, it goes without saying.

1) The legal context

Dear colleagues,
Dear audience,

I don’t know what the situation is like here in England with the administrative laws and with local regulators. In Finland I can say, we, Finnish principals are in the lucky situation of being allowed to do almost anything. In our town we even managed to depose the school boards (koulujen johtokunta) 1-2 years ago. If you have such bodies here in England, I suggest you doing your best to depose them. It’s not good if the parents sitting in the school board can see what we are up to against our subordinates. For instance, I would have had no chance to dismiss the music teacher because the parents and the students liked her. Over 700 petitions were collected for her anyway. Fortunately in these days in our country a school principal is such a master that even 700 more petitions can be collected and they need not be filed. We in Finland are so lucky that a principal alone may recruit and dismiss a subordinate. Admonitions may be issued without having the possibility of appeal at any forum. Anyone having two admonitions may be dismissed. Even the students’ demonstration doesn’t help.
However, the institution of the school board still exists, unfortunately. Hopefully it won’t last long. They almost voted against appealing our lost lawsuit.
Nevertheless they are in our hands more or less – just like the trade union but that is already the next topic.

Even despite all these I daresay we should be precautious.

2) The trade union

I tell you honestly that I don’t know the Finnish trade unions in general but in our town the senior secretary as well as the safety managers are all our men. We are great friends keeping contact. We can talk over with them well in advance how to kill the blokes we don’t like. This was the case with our music teacher liked neither by the senior section female principal nor by me. We tried everything, my female principal colleague too, for example she didn’t have a word with her and she tried to keep him away from the senior section, we tortured him, called him for interrogation, told lies, we did everything to him but couldn’t keep him away. This fool liked the students. Exercising our employer right we even forbade him to keep contact with them but it was useless.

To cut it short: it’s very important to elect the perfect person for the posts of the trade union and safety representatives and you need to keep them along with you, with whatever method.

Fortunately our teacher trade union in Helsinki is not willing to help those in need, only after being kicked out, that is: we have no fear of the trade union.

3) The work environment

It’s very important for the leaders to stand by each other. Whatever may come (legal, illegal, immoral or against the children, it doesn’t matter), they need to stick together. It may even be something illegal. We could also have the records and memos rewritten, could lie and defame the person picked at and we didn’t have to be afraid of being given away or accused by any of us. We keep together in good and bad, in villainy, in parties and in everything. We take the heat together in everything.

(Unluckily, we had one exception too. One of the vice school principals dared to tell the truth about a candidate. But then she got what he deserved. Three of us also threatened her that she would lose her job if she stands by the one to be kicked out even if only once and if she tells the truth about the person’s affairs and if she dares to tell others what we did to the person to be dismissed. This latter vice principal had the courage to go to court and there she told the truth all the way long without a wink of the eye. She told the whole story like it had happened without a wink of the eye. Do you understand this? The nerve of her!

Fortunately the other colleagues didn’t have such courage. By then they had learnt to fear and didn’t even think of coming to witness or making a statement at the police. Threatening is a working method with us. There’s deep silence with us.)

There were some who I admitted in the body but this is not public.

It’s essential for everyone to learn who the master in the house is. You need to pay attention to the subordinates’ not forming unity. You need to take care to have 2-3 subordinates all the time with whom you’re kind and on good terms and with whom you can chat behind the others. In such case the principal can do to the individuals whatever he wants to. This just reminds me to mention that immediately making everything confidential is also crucial. That’s easy. Refer to some privacy right, that’s all. And nothing, nothing should be discussed together but everyone be called individually to the principal’s office. And then forbid disseminating whatever was said between the two of us in the principal’s office. Everything, everything is top secret! This way nobody knows anything about what we’ve done together with the senior section vice principal colleague and everyone stays in uncertainty. And this, as we know, gives way to fear and keeps the subordinates in fear.

Thus we reach the point when the principal’s word is the correct guideline in anything. This way everyone feels good and the working atmosphere is excellent. The subordinates don’t even think that a working place can be different. Everyone is grateful to me, they laugh, smile and are happy.

Dear colleagues! I believe you should follow our example in this. Our Slovakian colleagues could do so too, not long ago they only had rumours about what democracy is. We will show this to you when your school leaders visit us.

4) Can the subordinates be terrified

As for this I can only say that the affair should always be arranged in a way that there should be only one candidate at any time. See what was mentioned in the previous section. Here I only want to mention that you should keep a court. Seduce the majority of the subordinates (sic!) even if you don’t like them all (e.g. with visits abroad, monthly coffees, amusement, an evening together, drinking together, this way or another).

5) The character of the person to be kicked out

And now we’ve reached the most difficult factor, the person to be kicked out. There are several types.

– There are those who you scold once or twice, shout at them or just make them feel who the master is and then they wet their pants and fold and keep away from you. They needn’t even be fired eventually because they disappear and keep away from the community. They learn where their places are. This is good because the example always lingers there for the others to see what happens if …

– There are some who understand from a couple of face to face conversations that it’s best to sheer off if they want the best.

– There are some for whom that’s not enough, at whom you have to shout. But take care! We have democracy. You must do it always face to face when no one else can see it. And don’t forget to instruct: keep the mouth shut about whatever was said face to face. It’s crucial for that person to understand he/she has nothing to do here. Should that be not enough, you need to persistently humiliate, offend him/her, be unfair to him/her, accuse and suspect him/her continuously, send the person for an aptitude check or to the psychologist. Can you do these? These usually bring a result and the subordinate will ask to go to another school and thus teach the others how things are.

– And finally there are the fools that don’t understand from anything. They will believe until the end that it’s just some misunderstanding and you are a nice person. They’re simply foolish. They don’t want to believe that there are evil humans, immature and bad leaders. They keep on trying to prove that it was not like that, they were misunderstood and they kept our instructions and then what will happen to the students; as if we, music teacher principals ever cared what will happen to the students. No, we don’t care. And even after the tenth accusing meeting they keep on planning how to organise a choir competition and how to get the money for the trip. They are almost impossible to exhaust. They never notice that being fired is on the doorstep and just keep on thinking about the concerts and the flute exam. They cannot be helped. They can only be fired.

And here comes the question: how to do that?

Now you have to build on the good relationship among the leaders. The person has to be accused! Though this shouldn’t be done by you, the principal! It shouldn’t be you to organise the disciplinary meeting for him/her where he/she will be accused but you need to make the education department manager or the deputy organise the play. If you are united, they will be take part in the scene with pleasure.
It’s almost all the same what you accuse the person with. For example I lied at the education department that he kept on making phone calls on him mobile like a lunatic. (And then when it was revealed that I had lied, this … education department manager tried to refine the affair by saying that the subordinate must have gone out at night to call me from call boxes. The lunatic. He didn’t remember that in our town there had been no call boxes in the streets for long. Ha-ha! Sometimes things go that funny. But if you stick together, even this doesn’t matter.)
Back to what you can make up and what accusations you can find. For example, the teacher has given away some top secret to the parents. Sure, it was not the case with us either and the teacher wasn’t a tell-tale but that doesn’t matter here. The point is to keep the person under constant pressure for long. He shouldn’t have time to get involved in anything else than avoiding the next accusation. And once again: it mustn’t be you to issue the administrative penalty! Ask a buddy at the directorate.

If all these aren’t enough, you need to get the colleagues to attack him somehow. Demonise him behind the back. And order that he mustn’t talk about the past. This, unfortunately, also gave me some headache because this music teacher was really kind to us all. For instance, he had a great symphonic piece performed for my 40th birthday on the school corridor as a surprise and all principals of the town were present. Or once he hosted 35 Italian guests of mine in the orchestra camp that he himself organised. And he used to bring flowers to decorate the teachers’ room. Imagine, this swindler once brought a huge Philodendron too, just for nothing and didn’t even ask a price for it. And put it on top of the cabinet as a decoration. It was in full green there. He watered it. Unbelievable, isn’t it? Don’t worry; when I finally managed to have this bloke dismissed, I made the cleaning woman throw the plant into the dustbin. That was all to it. (Remember now again, don’t take responsibility for anything. It was the cleaning woman who threw it out and not you.) And then sometimes he used to bring some cakes from the shop, make coffee for the colleagues, invite them for lunch in the afternoons and sometimes invited me to the teachers’ kitchen where he laid the table and served lunch for the colleagues. He often invited me for lunch in the afternoons too. And generally he’s polite, helpful and he is ready to substitute any time when one of us cannot give his/her class. So, after all these it wasn’t an easy business to get the colleagues to hate him. And I didn’t really manage to, only with a few of them and my pub mates. And I was also a bit late with having him hated. It wasn’t actually successful by the time the machinery of dismissal was set up. In that I wasn’t careful enough, unfortunately. But everyone stands by us up to the city vice manager/vice mayor. It didn’t matter.

In such cases when it’s difficult to turn the colleagues against the one picked at, you can give a try with the children. Probably you can make one or two hate the teacher you want to fire. We had great success in this with a buddy colleague who’s also present here. We didn’t need to do anything else than keep on suggesting two-three problematic boys behind the picked colleague how difficult these choir classes are, you don’t want to go to the concert to sing with the Japanese, do you, well, you don’t have to, we understand what a pain in the neck it is for you. Just let us know and we’ll help you and don’t go to sing at the concert but then again you don’t even have to attend the music classes. We help you and you’ll take notes during the classes what the teacher does to you. Or you can ask the colleagues to spy a bit, take notes on what the boys gained by us say about the colleague picked. Then this can be a bit exaggerated and one more reason for the dismissal is ready made.

I must say we were a little too successful in this: the boys presented the stories so well that one’s father came to the school to threaten the teacher we picked to dismiss. And we could extend our list of reasons for dismissal that the children were made to stand in the corner. (The kid’s mother is a vice principal in another school for whom we intended to make a job in the educational office. But this we couldn’t carry out.)

Unfortunately – as I already mentioned – in those times the vice principal lady of our school wasn’t threatened to the proper level and she told it wasn’t true that the teacher in the dismissal procedure had made the kids stand in the corner. From this the lesson for us principals is that the teacher community has to be kept in total fear already well before we start working on methods preceding the dismissal.

And now comes the dismissal. It’s essential again that it mustn’t be you to write the documents of dismissal with straight backbone. Find a dupe to do this. For example some green junior leader at the educational office whose head you can fill with lies or who’s a good buddy anyway. With us they took the heat. It’s best if he takes the heat. Then you, the principal won’t have any problems from the heaps of lies needed to collect and sign for the dismissal. If the educational office managers are in the same gang, it will be a piece of cake to have the decision of the officers on the dismissal approved by the educational commission.

From this point the case is taken to court, which takes years. The deliquent will never return to work. If the lawsuit is lost, which is unluckily rather likely with this sort of subordinates, in Finland it’s not us the principals who pay but the town. It’s also possible that the town will pay the monthly salary free for the fired person until retirement. Let them pay!, you and your senior section colleague have got rid of an unpleasant and schmuck colleague who likes the job and the kids. One who didn’t have the wit to leave the kids alone after a well performed day and go home to eat the daily crisps and drink the bottle of Coke. Well deserved, why pamper the kids, am I right?

Well, that’s what I wanted to tell you briefly. I hope you find something useful in my presentation. Have you got any questions?

If not, I’m giving word to my male subordinate sitting here to tell you more about with what and how we filled the boys’ heads. Or I can tell you about how we got one of the vice managers at the educational office to fake the reports when this fool to fire had it recorded that he had been offended at him working place. And about how we got another leader to write two memos so that our hokey-pokey of threatening wouldn’t come to light.

During our next meeting within the Comenius programme framework I’ll give a presentation on a situation when someone is elected principal in a school where we cannot tolerate the operation (we, for example, the music specialisation) and then how to get rid of this section of the school with perseverant and tenacious work or how to make it impossible/unfeasible for them to work.

If you don’t have any questions I suggest talking over what to make up on how to spend our money received from Comenius. We still have quite an amount of it.

Please, allow me to remind you that everything you heard here is strictly confidential. It is forbidden to mention it to third persons. Anyway, I don’t think, this might cause problems among us in the future.

Tervetuloa Suomeen!

And now I’m giving word to my colleague, please …

Työpaikkakiusaaja-esimiesten uhri eräästä suomalaisesta kaupungista, G. K.


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