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Anxious, ready to quit my nqt year

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by hidden_inblxck, Oct 11, 2019.

  1. hidden_inblxck

    hidden_inblxck New commenter

    Hi all,
    I am helpless and am in desperate need of some advice.
    I am an NQT at a school which is considered “outstanding” and seemed like it would be a perfect school to work in. During the interview the head teacher was rude but then later I got the call to say they loved me. I overlooked this and took the job.
    A couple months before starting I read reviews on the school, almost every single comment was about the head and how she was a bully and she bullied all the staff out. I was also told about her from other people- I was extremely scared but it was too late to look elsewhere by then.
    As me and (5 other nqts!!!) started at the school I very quickly realised that every single member of staff was terrified of the woman to say the least. “Don’t stand like that she doesn’t like it”, “don’t say this word she won’t like it” “don’t have this in here, she won’t like it”... it was shocking. The children were like robots, not even allowed to freely play during play times as they must play in a certain way and not make much noise (they’re kids!)

    The head of nqt seemed a nervous wreck herself being controlled by the head, she was overwhelming me with wanting to team teach and critisicing every single thing I did. Very soon I was feeling trapped, feeling like I’m failing at everything I am doing.
    The head teacher walked into my room this week and was observing every corner of my class. She walked over to my book corner which I had took a lot of time and effort creating. She went through all of my books begin to dumb them on the floor. She found some books for the younger years in my class (which was organised into draws in my class by the previous teacher). She told me to get rid of them and put them in reception. She had a go at me and nit picked every little thing but I listened and began to make those changes to my class. I intended to take the books to reception by the end of the day. She already been in my classroom before the end of the day and called me into her room.
    She screamed at me like a child. I am still traumatised! She said “if I order you to do something I expect it done straight away I am the head teacher. You are lazy everyone is working so hard for you and you are doing nothing, I will contact the head of nqt if this continues, you should be embarrassed.. get back to your room I’m giving you 30 mins to fix it” I was traumatized I sat on the floor and strayed crying uncontrollably I was shaking. Ever since I cannot sleep or eat properly. I have had a panic attack in school today and my legs are weak. I cannot seem to have energy. My heart is constantly racing and she is always waking in and out of my classroom.
    I cannot stay in this room. I am so scared of her and I cannot relax of get my mind of this. I want to leave but I don’t want this to impact my career as a teacher. I love teaching, it’s my passion, I got outstanding during my pgce but this has broke all of my confidence.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    I am sorry you have had to experience this and for you to be treated like this and it is a serious matter ; but I am not sure exactly what the answer for you is since you can't work in conditions like the one you describe above. The head's behaviour is shocking and unprofessional. You would not be treated like that in any other business or institution.

    If you are in a union, phone them on Monday to explain what has happened and get their advice on what steps you can take on who to call or what actions you can take.

    Other posters will be along soon to suggest other actions you can take, but in the meantime, please be assured your career won't be affected as reading your post, I can see how much you care about the children and your passion for teaching. Not all places are like the one you are in and many people have left their first placement and gone on to find supportive places to work.

    You might want to ask for advice on the NQT New Teachers Thread as there are several posters who post regularly on that thread who have given advice to people in similar circumstances.
  3. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    Sadly your experience of an incompetent bullying HT is not uncommon. This persons behavior has had a huge impact on you and you need to deal with this in the first instance. First your health, seek counseling and support, talk to friends and family, contact your union. If you cannot face going in on Monday then get signed off.
    You need to explore ways of getting out, Others have left schools during their NQT years and restarted somewhere else, there will be advice on this site. This is not the end of you career merely a blip which you can get through. You are not alone, the other staff and NQT's at this school will be going through the same thing and hopefully they will also be leaving ASAP.
    Right now the stress and anxiety will seem overwhelming, you can get past this and you will, there are better schools and better HT's out there.
    I have just looked on the jobs page and there are over 600 vacancies for primary teachers, so you will be able to move on. good luck, it will be all right.
  4. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    I’m all for high standards and expectations however there is a way to ensure this happens. Her behaviours - content and the way in which it was said to you-are not appropriate. I would expect requests completed, however within a reasonable timescale. Equally, if I wanted something moved out of a teacher’s classroom with urgency, I would arrange this or do this myself. I would not have had books left in the wrong classroom, so this is actually reflective of her not noticing before! You should have walked into a room with appropriate level resources.

    If you leave, it would not affect your career. You can excel in an interview and can explain that this school was not a match for you. I’ve employed new and experienced teachers who’ve said this. Equally, I’ve left role after shorter duration. People understand and if you’re good, then you’re snapped up. Education is pretty small world, so if there is a fair bit of movement of strong professionals from one school or organisation others pick this up as being indicative of the culture. It takes courage to move from a culture that is not right for you. My advice is make the decision best for you, obtain a great new role and leave in the best way you can, burning no bridges.
    FollyFairy, pepper5, install and 3 others like this.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I agree with the posts above.

    I would just add, if you really aren't bothered about leaving the job (& perhaps, what we rather amusingly still call the 'profession'), why not next time this bully picks on you and shouts at you, stand up to them, shout back, make your body language strong (even threatening - I think we all know how to do this instinctively) and don't back down. If they threaten you, threaten them; if they say 'I'll sack you' say you'll expose them to the parents, press, LEA, Academy Trust or whatever.

    This may not help you qualify as a teacher, but it will certainly make you feel better and may, just, give hope to the other victims of this awful person.
  6. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    I would try and see the academic year out and then move on.

    You can start applying for other jobs after Christmas.
    phlogiston and FrankWolley like this.
  7. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    What appalling treatment. You must get in touch with your union.

    Have the other NQTs at the school had a similar experience? Are you able to talk to any of them about it? Solidarity in numbers, and all that.

    It doesn't sound like this is sustainable in the long term. You need to protect yourself, whatever you decide. Good luck.
    strawbs, agathamorse, pepper5 and 4 others like this.
  8. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    If the OP already had qualified teacher status then this advice might be worth following, my immediate concern is that this HT will use obtaining QTS as a pressure point against the OP. If the OP is already struggling to cope with the stress caused by this bully, how will they last through a year of this?
    agathamorse, pepper5, install and 2 others like this.
  9. install

    install Star commenter

    Right a few guidance notes on how to look after you in the face of potential bullies:

    1 You MUST contact your head of nqts and relate the threat. The bully thinks you are stupid and that you will not be believed.
    2 Do not go back.to work and see gp immediately.
    3 Ask school for Bullying Policy
    4 Never be on your own
    5 Next time anyone is rude to you request they wait while you just get a witness to hear what they say. Choose any other adult you trust that is round to hear.
    6 Talk - talk - talk to others and tell them what happened. But do it with someone you trust
    7 Do not relate this incident on facebook.or social websites where you can be identified
    8 You have a career but only if you know what to do in the face of bullies
    9 Look to resign on 31st Oct if need be
    10 Good luck and take care of YOU.
  10. celago22

    celago22 Occasional commenter

    This is awful and my advice to you would be:
    1. Document everything that she says.
    2. Don't speak to colleagues about it because even if you told someone that you thought you could trust you just never know who will snitch and then the HT will have more against you.
    3. However, email your nqt mentor and tell them what was said. You need a trail of evidence.
    4. Don't take time off sick, it's not fair on your class and it will look bad on future applications.
    5. Finally, find a different school.

    I went through a similar experience last year and my HT was a complete bully. I was advised to leave at Christmas but was too worried about leaving so early on and having to justify it to new schools. The year got worse and I had issues with mental health, constant heart palpitations and major anxiety. I wish I had resigned at Christmas. I don't know how I got through the year.

    Your HT should be nurturing and supportive. She sounds awful and certainly I do not think she will magically improve. You need to leave before she gets worse.
  11. bajan

    bajan Occasional commenter

    I would suggest you contact your union. Also you appropriate body and ask them to visit you at school. See if your union can get you released early.
    pepper5, steely1 and install like this.
  12. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    I just feel angry on the part of the OP. No teacher should be subjected to such awful treatment / harassment, let alone a NQT.
  13. NikNak01

    NikNak01 New commenter

    I echo the points above about seeing your union. I spent many years overseas and came back recently and was shocked at the changes. I had accepted a job and almost immediately knew I'd made a mistake: I lasted 4 months. It wasn't the end and I am back working full time. If this woman is making you cry in a classroom, giving you panic attacks and making it so you cannot sleep. You must come up with an exit plan. You are a human being and you need to look after yourself, for your sake and for those that love you.
  14. ibrahim10

    ibrahim10 New commenter


    Look for a January post and start fresh again. This head deserves no notice as well. Leave overnight to give her a treat of her own medicine.
  15. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    You cannot leave a post overnight. I'm getting sick of this being offered up on the forums, usually (surprise!) by people who have left teaching. Or retired.

    The HT is a bullying ****, but this is where the OP needs to act to put herself above reproach. Contact your Union for advice, and yes, you can resign before 31st October to leave in January. A school with 5 NQTs and a high turnover of staff will be known to other HTs. If you really cannot face going in, see your GP for an actual assessment.

    Another piece of advice. If a HT is rude or aggressive during an interview, unless you're desperate for a job, do not accept. Anyone who has the arrogance to intimidate people at the stage when both parties need to make a good impression is not worth the time. It will only get worse.
  16. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Legally, you are right.

    But leaving overnight isn't unknown (I certainly came across it during my career) and PROVIDING the OP doesn't want a career in teaching, she could do that. As a last resort. No-one EVER - should be reduced to the extent they say: "I was traumatized I sat on the floor and strayed crying uncontrollably I was shaking". Legally the OP was assaulted (but difficult to prove).
  17. steely1

    steely1 Occasional commenter

    I find it ironic that there are Heads and senior managers out there (including at my own school, as well as the OP's, evidently) who speak to their staff as if they are children when they wouldn't dream of speaking to the pupils themselves in anything like as patronising or belittling a manner.
    install, phlogiston, pepper5 and 3 others like this.
  18. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If you do not feel stronger by Monday, do see your GP. I don't agree with the "don't go off sick because it looks bad" - if going in on Monday is going to make you a gibbering wreck, don't do it.

    Talk to your union. They may already know about this head. Their advice will be important as you move forward.

    Document everything. Keep it factual.

    Plan to get out - there are schools who will be happy to take you on after a false start (and if this head has been bullying people out, that may be well known in the area, so other schools may understand fully without you having to say anything). As HolyMahogany says, she has the threat of not passing NQT to hold over you, which makes standing up to her very difficult.
    agathamorse, install and HolyMahogany like this.
  19. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    All tbe advice above is excellent. However, if the OP goes off sick doesnt that mean the bully wins? Who stops the bully?

    Just curious.
    steely1 likes this.
  20. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Occasional commenter

    You are right - Who does stop the bully?
    It should be the other members of the Senior leadership team, the school governors, the local authority, the principle of the MAT, OFSTED, the DFE. Who ever is in a position of responsibility for this person being in post and having this power available to them to abuse.
    Standing up to a bully is not easy because they always choose their victim and their methods with care, are often in a strong position of power and are very practiced liars.

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