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Advice re: negative comment in reference

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by polkadotted, Jul 6, 2020.

  1. polkadotted

    polkadotted New commenter


    I'm looking for some advice regarding references, particularly from those who interview/have interviewed candidates if possible.

    I had a good interview and the school are apparently interested in me but are checking references first as they weren't able to meet me in person. I have 2 excellent references from my former employers, and one from my most recent head teacher. The one from my most recent head is apparently very positive but has one negative comment that I fear may paint me in a bad light. When asked, I have offered clarification regarding the point it refers to and have said I'm looking to develop this further (I don't want to say what it is publicly as it may be identifying). They did give good feedback about my performance as a teacher otherwise and said they would employ me again.

    Would this discount a candidate in your eyes? The reason I'm concerned about this is due to the pandemic I was interviewed over Zoom without teaching a lesson, so the school would be relying on references even more than usual.
  2. polkadotted

    polkadotted New commenter

    ** Edit: I know of course that it's standard under Safer Recruitment to ask for your references before interview...I didn't phrase that part so well. **
  3. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    There's no absolute answer. The school is comparison shopping; they have found some people, yourself included, who more or less fit what they are looking for. Now they are comparing them; whoever fits best, or is the least poor fit, will be offered the job. Without knowing all about you and the competition, it's impossible to say.

    ACOYEAR8 Star commenter

    Totally agree.
    agathamorse likes this.
  5. sparkleshine

    sparkleshine New commenter

    Thanks! That does make sense.
  6. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    It's always a competition. And if you've got this far in the competition, you've done very well. Congratulations!

    And remember: each school is looking for something just a little bit different.

    What might make one school just shrug their shoulders and give you the job anyway could make another recoil and decide not to.

    I'm afraid that there's no way of giving you reassurance, which I know is what you need. Sorry.

    The best I can do, if this goes against you (which I do so hope it doesn't!), is to suggest that in the next application you pre-empt this by mentioning how you have moved on/changed your practice/ done training or whatever.

    I don't mean saying " I know my HT will say, X, but you should know that I no longer do this, so he's out of date", but something more subtle. For example" I believe that I am a reflective practitioner, and when I identify an area to improve, or a mentor suggests it, I aim to do so. For example, xyz". Something along those lines, perhaps worded differently, if you see what you mean.

    Fingers crossed for you

    Best wishes

    Twitter @Theo_Griff
  7. sparkleshine

    sparkleshine New commenter

    I appreciate the advice, thank you
    agathamorse and TheoGriff like this.
  8. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    One previous HT wrote a whole reference that was untrue/nasty/inaccurate and the interviewing HT found it didn't tally up with the other reference so told me- he sniffed a rat basically! He knew something wasn't quite right. I wouldn't worry about one negative comment on a reference, everyone has development points. Only worry if the comment is untrue and paints you unfavourably.
    sparkleshine likes this.
  9. sparkleshine

    sparkleshine New commenter

    How awful! But I'm really glad that there are heads out there who realise that this sort of thing happens and that it worked out for you after all. Thanks, that is reassuring. The rest of the reference is good so hopefully it's fine. I actually didn't end up getting the job as their current employee wasn't able to take up their planned overseas post so the position wasn't available anymore. So it doesn't look like the reference did me a lot of harm...
    TheoGriff likes this.
  10. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    I did a GDPR request because of an issue with a previous employer; although I didn’t ask for this specifically they included their reference to my current place. It was in the ‘list of questions’ format (though not tick box) and two of the answers were quite negative! Evidently didn’t stop me getting the job though.

    I think we can hope that a negative comment about X (let’s say - quality of marking as a a example) in your current reference would make headteachers think - “Hmm - has she suddenly gone downhill? Probably not. Must have a weird policy at that school or something; the other one says she’s exemplary in this area...”
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    References - both given and received - are exempt from GDPR/Data Protection Act and do not have to be disclosed. However people do report regularly that when they submitted a GDPR Subject Access Request the references were included in what they got back even though they didn't have to be. Either the school was being helpful, or (more likely IMV) the admin person who had to copy all your personal information didn't know that references are exempt.
    agathamorse and jarndyce like this.

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