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A bad reference from who?!

Discussion in 'Teaching assistants' started by Oburoni, Nov 23, 2012.

  1. In fact, it appears now the school I have applied with called the office of the school where I was volunteering and, asked to speak to the person I named as reference (quoting her name). As she was not available their call was, without them knowing (!), then transferred to the headteacher who answered their questions.
    As surprising as it is, the headteacher at the school willing to employ me is therefore convinced she spoke to the person I named as reference. I called her and explained the situation. She spoke to their human resource department but, there is nothing she can do as the decision to withdraw the offer has already been taken and someone else been employed.
    I have also got in touch with the person I named as reference. She was not aware at all that someone tried to get in touch with her to obtain a reference for me (she knows I am using her as reference).
    I have called the headteacher who gave them the bad reference. She refused to discuss the matter with me.
    There were no investigation.
    I once went to this headteacher office to ask if I could set up an after school club and, she told me then that two months before a child came to her to complain about me. I was shocked as, she didn't bring the case up at the time where the child came to speak to her and, no one ever mentioned such allegations (once again: I have learnt about it two months after, while going to discuss a complete different matter with her). Of course, I have denied everything. In fact, I even didn't give it any other thought as this headteacher told me then that everything was alright, she had dealt with it and the pupil in question. As she never questioned my volunteering in her school, never complained to the College with which I was then doing my Level 2 Teaching Assistant and, even, later employed me as Lunchtime Supervisor I believed she clearly believed such allegations 'bogus'.

     
  2. This is all a bit odd! If you worked for them, you're required to name them as a reference. The fact you didn't is reason enough to withdraw an offer of employment.
     
  3. I have worked for them as Lunchtime Supervisor, I have volunteered as Teaching Assistant. As I was applying for a Teaching Assistant position, I thought it more relevant to name references that could back me up regarding skills/duties/knowledge regarding a TA post, not a Lunchtime Supervisor one. Hence, I named the EFYS Leader supervising me while I was volunteering as TA (besides another Nursery manager from another setting) and not the headteacher.
    The issue is, this headteacher took it upon herself to give reference about me as a Lunchtime Supervisor (she confirmed this to me), while the headteacher of the school where I have applied is convinced to have spoken to the EYFS Leader I named, not another headteacher!
    I am obviously thinking about taking the case to a solicitor...
     
  4. R13

    R13 New commenter

    Your current employer is always asked for a reference in my authority - irrespective of the job you are doing for them
     
  5. If you're going to go down that route, you need to ask for a formal letter detailing the withdrawal and the reasons behind it from the new school. Then you can claim damages against the old school. Assuming what you say is all acurate, they will find it very difficult to substanciate the poor reference without having given you at least some kind of warning.
     
  6. Yes. The application form I have filled actually stated:
    'References (One of these should be your present employer)
    Please note: if you are currently working with children, one reference must be obtained from the employer relating to children. We reserve the right to contact your present/last employer if an offer is made and accepted. Once received, references will be reviewed. If there are any queries about the quality of the reference we will discuss with you.
    NB: Please note that ***** Council requires two references prior to employment commencing.
    External Applicants: If you are selected for interview we will take up references. One referee should be a senior person in your present (or most recent) company or training provider who has knowledge of your work.'
    They in fact took references after the interviews. None-the-less, my reference being their EYFS Leader, there was no reason (in my opinion) for the headteacher to step in -especially without informing the other school that she was not the person chosen!! Beside, this headteacher made it clear to me that she only gave references regarding me as Lunchtime Supervisor as she has no knowledge of how I worked as TA.
    I am a bit concerned about the 'we reserve the right to contact your present/last employer' part. Having said that, the fact the other school was sure of having spoken to my referee, and this referee not knowing about it all, makes me think there's something fishy...


     
  7. Thanks for the advice. I will try and do that while looking for a solicitor, and see if there's a case.
     
  8. I've heard rumours at a school I know of, that the head teacher will give bad references to staff they want to keep!
    Please contact your union straight away if you require legal support.
     
  9. I would also speak to your human resources department of your lea stating you are making a complaint and want to know the procedure. I think this is absolutely terrible. They must have been given a dreadful reference to have withdrawn the offer without discussion. When I worked as a governor we would make our decision then check references and only then offer the job.
     
  10. picsgirl

    picsgirl New commenter

    Agree with the above - normally offers are only made AFTER the references have been received. Seems odd to offer you a post then phone up for a reference.
     
  11. For under safer recruiting guidelines I would ALWAYS expect them to contact the present/last employer where you were working with children (which as a lunchtime supervisor you were) if you hadn't named them as a referee yourself and for a school it would be the HT they would contact for a reference.
    That said, if the HT gave a reference which wasn't true then you do have a case to sue for loss of potential earnings until you can find another job.

     
  12. Rockchick2112

    Rockchick2112 New commenter

    This is totally unprofessional and an example of the head being a poor manager- something like this should definitely not have been mentioned as a 'by the way, so-and-so a situation happened' two months later, when you've gone to speak to her about something else!
    I think it's worth going down the legal route. You've actually been offered a job, then had your livelihood removed on the say-so of one person! Abuses of power like this make me so angry; if you take legal action it would send a strong message that this kind of thing is completely unacceptable. I would love to see you win, especially as this kind of thing has happened to me. I was pushed out of my job as a teaching assistant by a bullying headteacher who, amongst other things, did not end my one year fixed-term contract in writing as she was required to by law. To rub salt into the wound she trashed my chances of getting a teaching post (as I am a qualified teacher) by writing negative references for the two schools I had interviews at. She wrote different things each time, so it was clear that her main aim was to jeopardise my chances. One of the main things I regret is that I did not take legal action at the time, as I was so disheartened by what had happened. If you want to take legal action about this sort of thing, you need to do it within a few months. Any solicitor you seek advice from will ask if he/she can see a copy of the reference which led to the job offer being withdrawn- unfortunately, there is no right to insist that the person who actually wrote it hands over a copy, but you do have the right to make a Subject Access Request to the third party (ie the school who offered you the job, but subsequently withdrew it) under the Data Protection Act. I agree with greenteaaddict that you should make a complaint to LEA Human Resources- also, once they get wind of any proposed legal action, it is sure to send them into a panic!
     
  13. R13

    R13 New commenter

    I think you've got a strong and legitimate complaint if the reference from the Head was incorrect.
    I do however still feel it entirely correct that your 'employer' reference was completed by the Head and not your line manager, who in no way can be seen as your employer
     
  14. picsgirl

    picsgirl New commenter

    This may help.

    https://www.gov.uk/work-reference
     
  15. Rockchick2112

    Rockchick2112 New commenter

    Have had a look at the info on there, and it would appear that Oburoni would have a good case against the head who wrote the reference- there has been a loss of a job offer and the reference is also misleading. If an employer gives a bad reference, everything must be verifiable- in the case of schools, written records must have been made at the time that the events occurred and appropriate procedures followed. A reference which is based on hearsay simply wouldn't be viewed as acceptable in court.
     
  16. R13

    R13 New commenter

    The link provided by picsgirl does indeed suggest that the idea that you can't give a bad reference is not true. You can't give an inaccurate reference - if someone is a poor worker you can state just that
     

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