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Are teachers owned by the school?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by delmamerchant, Sep 21, 2017.

  1. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Strange I know but I have a questions about ownership as it has become a topic of conversation due to a colleague applying for a job that was a promotion, she informed the head who looked up the job and found that as part of the speck they had needed to have experience in some of the above. The head called them in and questioned them about the issues below stating that permission was needed from them to use resources for other means than teaching in the school.

    As a teacher, does any resource we make and use to teach belong to the school?
    Does lesson observation feedback belong to the school?
    Can we give a colleague a reference without permission from the head teacher?
    Can we mentor a colleague without permission from the head teacher?
    Can we observe a colleague and write them feedback without permission from the school
    Do we need permission from the school to attend CPD in our own time and to use resources that we use to teach for that CPD ( no student names used)?
    Are we as teachers owned by the school despite the fact that much work is done in our/my own time.
    kazzakat934 and install like this.
  2. Grandsire

    Grandsire Star commenter

    Yes, resources you make to use in school belong to the school, I believe, even if you make them at evenings and weekends. I'm happy to be corrected by those who know better, though. This question comes up a lot now people have the option to sell resources on TES.

    Those resources you make in your own time which are NOT intended to be used in your school (although why else would you make them? for fun?!) probably should belong to you, unless you work for somewhere which demands total control of your whole life, as well as that of your firstborn child...!

    I don't know about the other questions - I think some people where I work would take a dim view of me supporting a colleague (such as mentoring, including observing and feedback) without being asked. I've been gently warned off helping colleagues deemed to be 'struggling' in the past. (Yes, really.) I think lesson feedback should be yours to share with the world as you wish - but I expect there are schools who'd prefer you not to.
  3. banjouk

    banjouk Occasional commenter

    With regard to resources. My stock answer would be that for time and efficiency you always take and adapt other peoples resources rather than creating your own from scratch. The IP remains with the original creator of the work and not the current school.
    install likes this.
  4. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Technically, the copyright belongs to the school. I have not come across schools getting cross when people take copies of their resources with them, but maybe I've led a sheltered life. The resources I made for St Custards are very useful in my current workplace and when I'm tutoring.
    Actually, the laws about copyright are more vigorous. (AFAIK) If I wrote a best (more likely worst) selling novel while working as a teacher, I would need to negotiate ownership of the copyright of my work even though it's nothing to do with the school.
    Probably, although most reasonable managements shouldn't object if you wave an observation form at an interview and said "look, I was outstanding".
    These days, often you can't.

    It depends on the level of formality. As a head of department, I gave support to a range of colleagues. Some of it could have been considered mentoring. A friend of mine has been expressly directed to mentor a colleague.
    My old school encouraged peer observations. Doesn't mean that all schools do, although sensible schools would probably only object if there was a problem.

    NO. get your union involved with this one. Subject to the law (and safeguarding stuff) you can do what you like out of hours.

    Most reasonable schools would not object.

    I have always taken the view that during normal working hours, the school management has the right to direct me to do anything that could reasonably be required for the job. Outside school hours, there is a requirement to do necessary supporting work, but it is up to you how and when you schedule this.

    Reading between the lines, it sounds as if your school are trying to constrain you. You will notice that I have used the word reasonable several times - deliberately because AFAIK it's one of the words in the terms and conditions. It also sounds as if the school management are not being reasonable. Your friend needs to talk to the union, but refusal to allow a teacher to take the resources they have created to another school seems distinctly unreasonable to me.
  5. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide


    I'm looking forward to reading your best selling novel :D

    I doubt you need to negotiate copyright with your school though, copyright isn't quite that vigorous as I understand it. Resources created in your own time for use in your employment are likely to belong to the school, but unless your school is very demanding I doubt you are writingthe novel to use in your classroom as a teaching resource. So I'm pretty sure you'd own the copyright. But with all the money you'll be making from it you'll be able to afford an expensive intellectual property lawyer to advise you for sure! :)
    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
    kazzakat934, Pomz, sabrinakat and 2 others like this.
  6. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide


    The answer to quite a lot of these questions would be fact-dependent, no one-size-fits-all-circumstances answer. You'd need professional legal advice to be sure if you are actually in these situations.

    The head is entitled to say who can give a reference on behalf of the school, and so could say that staff cannot give references in their capacity as a teacher at St Custards and cannot use St Custards letterhead or email to give references. Whether they can stop you giving a personal reference from home is doubtful, but I don't know for sure. It's probably academic anyway, most potential recruiters don't accept or don't put much value on personal references.

    Depends when you do it. During directed time the school owns your time so could tell you not to mentor.

    Since that would have to take place during directed time yes the school can tell you not to do it.

    No - although saying disparaging things about the school or revealing confidential information about it could get you into troubled. Damaging the reputation of St Custards can be gross misconduct.

    As resources and their copyright are likely to belong to the school technically they have the power to say what they can be used for. If you are merely an attendee and are using the resources to help you, and you alone, learn it's hard to imagine any school would object. But if you are delivering the CPD, and being paid for it, the school could object to you using their resources to make money for yourself.

    Last edited: Sep 22, 2017
  7. install

    install Star commenter

    Any work you do in school time and/or that you get paid for by the school belongs to the school.

    Otherwise, what you do in your own time is your's and belongs to you:cool:
  8. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Thanks for your response. Not sure re the colleague struggling comment though as this is not the point.
    install likes this.
  9. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Thank you so much for your responses.

    Does anyone know where this information can be found relating to all of the above points. My friend is not in a union and is really worried about getting into trouble.

    For me, it would take a mean person to actually want to prevent someone from moving on due to the above issues but as we all know, there are some pretty mean people in our profession.

    I think the issue should really be if you are not bringing the school into disrepute why on earth is the head teacher making such a fuss about it.

    This seems to give head teachers a lot of control over our professional development! No wonder there is so much bullying in our profession!

    Having had my own issues in my own school, I am becoming further disillusioned with this profession and losing my energy.
    install likes this.
  10. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    The best advice you - or us - can give, is 'join a union. ASAP.'

    Then put the questions to them.

    [On edit]

    FWIW re: the original questions - I'd advise applying for this (& as many other jobs as possible), and go ahead with any interviews. If asked on these issues at interview, I'd happily provide examples of my work for the interview panel/HT saying, at the same time, 'I think you should know that my HT regards these as belonging to the school, so I cannot let you keep these examples'. Your HT will look like a plonker. Which they are.
  11. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Frank you have put a smile on my face and my friend will have an even bigger one once they have read your response. I like it.:):):D:D
    install and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  12. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

  13. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    I have read it and it says, 'You usually won’t own the intellectual property for something you created as part of your work while you were employed by someone else.' Most teachers I know are paid by the LA not the school, so do the intellectual rights belong to the borough?

    It is ridiculous in reality in reference to teaching: we are not scientist creating life saving drugs. As someone has said what about the resources that are sold on this site, do we give the school a percentage of what we make?
    install likes this.
  14. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Isn't it sad that we are actually having to have this conversation. How can we as teachers spend so much time developing the minds of the young when we cannot support or develop each other.
  15. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    In view of all this ownership of our intellectual creativity and permission from the head to support our peers we would be the most caring bunch of people on the planet:
    Hi, would you mind having a look at my lesson plan for me, I have an observation tomorrow - I not sure, I had better ask the head

    As we work in the same department would you mind observing my lesson as I have an interview next week - umm, I had better ask the head

    As my line manager, we have worked together for 10 years, would you mind giving me a reference, umm - I had better ask the head.
    install likes this.
  16. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    There website explains things in terms of teachers

    its worth checking your contract though.
    install and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  17. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    Your resources made when employed by the school belong to them. Leave them some paper copies if you leave in the future. Obviously things can go missing and the version you leave may not be the most up to date version. Mistakes happen don't they?
    install and FrankWolley like this.
  18. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

  19. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Something else you could do is ask your head if any resources you create is under a creative commons licence that would allow them to be shared whilst still being recognised where they come from.

    As an aside, I wonder how many authors for the TES resources don't actually own the copyright for the work they are selling as they actually belong to the school.
    Rivermill and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  20. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    These two are the kind of thing caring colleagues do to help each other out. However they couldn't really be used in an application as something they have done within school. They aren't part of the formal role and the person concerned is acting as a friend, not a line manager. The purpose and outcomes are very different.
    Absolutely the head needs to know. The head will also be writing a reference and it makes sense for him/her to know if other staff in the school are doing the same thing.
    CWadd and Lara mfl 05 like this.

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