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Bad references

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by frizz2kuk, Sep 11, 2015.

  1. frizz2kuk

    frizz2kuk New commenter

    I am after some help for my husband. He has had temporary teaching positions since starting teacher 5 yeas ago but has always had positive feedback with references etc it was just school issues (staff/pupil number etc) that meant he didn't stay. Anyway he finally got a permanent job and his refs from his last job came through and we're awful. His new school are removing the permanent offer and he is on probation until October half term and will be gone if he doesn't show improvement, then next year he will have to reapply for his job. The thing is, he always had great feedback at his last school and was told his lessons were excellent when he was observed. His last school is currently having problems (one of the reasons he left) including bad ofsted last year (they were seen before my husband started) and 4 out of 7 science teachers left, so did head of Science and the headteacher left (was sacked) midway through last year. It seems like there is actually no one left at the last school who actually saw my husband teach/worked with him so I don't know how they could give a reference like this. Is he able to challenge it? Can he get the feedback from his observations which show this reference is untrue? I am fuming and he is crushed. Finally he felt life in teaching was picking up after a life of uncertainty.
  2. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi frizz

    I am sure other posters with more knowledge of procedures and your husband's legal position regarding his references will be along to help, but I did not want to read and not say how sorry I am to read about your husband's dilemma. If your husband is in a union, they may also be able to advise him on his position in connection with the issues you raise.

    Teaching is so stressful without having to go through getting a bad or inaccurate reference and I can understand how upset your husband might be.

    I would hope that his new Head of Department and/or Head Teacher would not judge him only on these references, but on his current work; after all, he did get a permanent post and he must have done well in the interview observation.

    From what you write, it sounds as though your husband may teach science and science teachers are thin on the ground ( at least they are around here), so this will probably blow over and he will get settled in this new role.

    Take care and try not to worry over the weekend and enjoy your weekend together as a family.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  3. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Doesn't he have written copies of any feedback that he was given?
  4. frizz2kuk

    frizz2kuk New commenter

    He can't remember if he has copies somewhere. To top it off we've been renovating so most of his school things are all over the place.

    I'm confident that once they see him teaching and see how well he gets on with all the kids (all things they said he wasn't good at in the refs) they will keep him on but it's such a weight on his shoulders and he will have to reapply next year so they might decide not keep him on and it will be back to trying to find a permanent role.

    Science teachers seem to be aplenty locally to us. There tend not to be lots of jobs going and any that come up a lot of people apply.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Get your husband to contact his union on Monday as they will ba able to advise your husband. In the meantime, as you say take comfort in the fact that once they see your husband in action they will see that the things in the reference are untrue. Your husband did well to get his job and let us trust that justice will prevail.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  6. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I read this and actually wonder whether your OH's reference school might actually have been that incompetent that they actually 'referred' someone else in error! Just a thought............

    If your OH's school has a HR person, I would in his position arrange an appointment to air my grievances.

    If it comes to it, there is not a 'glut' of science teachers in my neck of the woods. PM me if you want the location!
  7. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Good point STG - frizz's husband should go to HR and make a note of his grievances.

    On a separate point, I have met science teachers who make a good living working as supply teachers directly for schools. That is always an option even for later in a few years time.
  8. frizz2kuk

    frizz2kuk New commenter

    Thanks. I will suggest this to him. I think he has been unfortunate with how his teaching career has turned out and it's frustrating that as soon as life appears to have settled something has happened to put a stop to it.

    He has been out of work a couple times and had to rely on supply but never found that it was recurrent enough. Having a mortgage to pay and a young child means that security is something he has been seeking and he thought he had finally found it this time.

    We will get copies of all his refs, speak to the union and also raise a grievance with the hr dept if there is one so at least they have him on file saying he thinks they are false and inaccurate.
  9. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    He can probably request to see the content of his personnel file from the previous school. That might well be worth doing, even if they charge an admin fee. Then he will know if there is anything less positive on it that he wasn't aware of - or maybe it will turn out that they'd accidentally misfiled someone else's lesson observations, or something like that.
  10. escaped_teacher

    escaped_teacher New commenter

    He can also make a subject access request to see his references. His union will advise him, he should talk to them asap.
  11. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

  12. frizz2kuk

    frizz2kuk New commenter

    I just wanted to update on this.
    Husband requested his file from previous school which had 2 observations and his yearly feedback.
    The feedback hadn't even been filled out and his observations were mostly good to excellent with a few needs improvement.
    He sent it all along with the refs to his union rep who is contacting the previous schools to request they change the refs. If this is unsuccessful he is going to ask for them to be voided (or something like that for any future jobs)
    The bit that gets me is that the rep has said that he thinks it's unlikely that his current school will keep him or will take an application to reapply for his role for next year seriously.
    Basically it feels like the rep agrees that on current evidence his ref is a lie/inaccurate but he's screwed anyway and will be out of a job by summer at the latest.
    Trying to pick my husband up and fill him with confidence. Any advice on a) how to keep him positive and b) anything he can do to show this school how valuable he would be if they kept him.
    How is it that a false ref can ruin a job. It's unfair!
  13. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    If a reference is actually 'false', e.g. is lying about you, is that a libel that can be the subject of legal action? Might be worth looking into....
  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    The legal requirement is for a reference to be fair and factually accurate. If, because of negligent misstatement (inclusion of inaccurate or omission of important information), you suffer detriment (loss), you may claim damages.

    FolkFan and GLsghost like this.
  15. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    In order to claim damages, you would need legal representation which could be very expensive, since you would need specialist legal advice about the procedures. Where to get such advice cheaply is another matter. I am not sure if your union would be able to advise you on how to go about claiming damages but it is worth asking ; you are right it is unfair that your husband has been put in a weak position because of this.

    In the meantime, if the previous schools change the references and the school your husband is now in realises what has happened, they may change their minds and keep him on. They will be observing him and if he does a good job, they may well change their minds. The longer he is there the longer he has to get to know the HoD and build a rapport with the SLT and one they well could keep him on. If he is pleasant and easy to work with ( which he sounds like he is) and builds relationship with the students, teaches well, then what more can he do?

    Tell your husband to try not to worry but to take one class at a time and one day at a time. For anyone reading these forums for any length of time, they will soon realise that working in schools can be a very precarious situation; there are many people struggling in the school workplace with all sorts of situations to do with stress, bullying, excessive workload and many other problems.

    The entire economy is unstable... no one's job is secure anymore. Your husband is in a somewhat better position than some which means that even if the school decides not to keep him on he can always do supply which is not ideal of course but it is an income stream that some don't have.
  16. frizz2kuk

    frizz2kuk New commenter

    I don't think he really wants to go down the legal route. The money would probably be too much.
    I think supply worries him as he's never had much luck with continuous supply and the last time he did it, he had several ones where they cancelled and decided to sort in house once he had already driven there. I think he joined the wrong agency last time to be honest, but obviously and experiences stick with you.
    I'll keep trying to keep him positive but I am really not sure whether he will feel like giving up teaching if he loses his job after everything he is going through.
  17. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    @GLsghost may be able to shed some light on your options for legal redress.

    Best wishes

  18. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    If your husband teaches MFL, science or maths he could be in demand and instead of using agencies he could contsct schools directly. Let us hope that he keeps his job...cross the bridge when you get there.
    Dragonlady30 likes this.
  19. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    I can't improve on @TheoGriff 's response.
    snowyhead likes this.
  20. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter



    snowyhead likes this.

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