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being bullied by the Head over nothing!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by evehi, Nov 18, 2019.

  1. evehi

    evehi New commenter

    Hi
    Ive told couple of my friends that ive had informal investigation launched. but bcos the issue is so insignificant they say 'there must be more to it'... which is really frustrating bcos theres not. Apart from I sense the Head doesnt like me and anything she can spin against me will be.

    Id already decided to leaving my current school in July because Im moving region, and I let them know in Oct. A few later I was informed my access to the building for September was being audited because the cleaners had reported I often stayed late many eves! The truth is I would stay at school till 5.50 (buildings locked at 6pm usually) because Id rather work at school than home. Theres was a personal reason for not being so keen to go home, but Im amazed it was an issue. Logs of my access have been printed out and scrutinised!

    Anyway I sent an email saying this is ridiculous and now Ive had 'not engaging with concerns and poor response to criticism' been added to my charges!'

    The head, now sensing my fear (bcos I dont want to affect next years job applications) now seems to be going in for the kill and enjoying every moment of it by using the cliches of safeguarding issues, mental health concerns (which i didnt have before she started on me).

    Its just bonkers but Teaching seems to be the only job where something can be made out of nothing and they can justify it by saying we are' thinking of the children'

    Im currently not member of a Union as really strapped for cash, and was hoping logic would prevail but it seems professional bullying is prevailing :(
     
    pepper5 and Teacher_abc123 like this.
  2. Skeoch

    Skeoch Lead commenter

    There's something strange about this, and it's probably something you're not telling us, perhaps because you don't want to be identified, and that's fair enough.
    My guess is that they are worried that you are working alone and if there were to be a medical or other emergancy you might not be spotted in time. Have you checked the school's Lone Working policy? This is a safeguarding issue in a way - ensuring you are safe.
    And have you replied with reasoning to the HT's concern, rather than saying it's ridiculous? If so, what was the response?
     
  3. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    You need to go back to Policy. If there is an investigation, it typically is under disciplinary policy, where you would receive formal letters inviting you to interview by an investigating officer.

    What are you being investigated for? The staying late situation and they’re looking at access logs? From site staff perspective, this is very frustrating. What time are you asked to leave by? I’ve worked in many schools and it’s clear the lock up time and then the staff must exit by time ahead of this. It takes a while to fully check a building ahead of locking up. It’s likely site staff don’t get paid extra if they’re late leaving due to you delaying them. Or if they claim overtime for you delaying them, then this is an additional cost to the school. It is an issue for the site team who would have their own homes to go to or might have other jobs to do after the school one. You might not have been keen to go home but it doesn’t mean they don’t!

    How are you presenting in school if safeguarding concerns and mental health is being cited? With both, the children would be my first priority and a HT is correct to say they are thinking of the children around any safeguarding concerns or mental health presentation which might be concerning.

    I’d echo your friends’ stance- there must be something more to this. What are the charges you refer to?

    Union membership is always an essential purchase. None of us know when we might need that support and guidance.
     
  4. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    I'd start arriving at the last possible moment, and leaving as soon as the bell goes (or as soon as school rules allow you to do after). If that means you aren't so efficient in getting admin done, books marked etc. just tell the HT that it's because you aren't staying late to get the work done!
     
    DexterDexter likes this.
  5. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    I think this is odd. I would say union membership is a must. I think the cost can be offset against tax, so it's less than you think, and it's definitely less than a lawyer if things get nasty.
    It is possible that your email response to the original approach has not helped. It might be a good thought to apologise for the manner in which you wrote it - maybe you didn't actually tell the Head you thought she was ridiculous? - and nod and agree that you hadn't realised the effect on site staff, and that you'll take it into consideration etc. I would suggest you take a friend with you when you see the Head to "provide another pair of ears for me" as this will be helpful, should things escalate.
    Take care.
     
  6. evehi

    evehi New commenter

    @skeotch, I said there was no more to it, and it was frustrating to try and tell people... and your first line was 'theres something youre not telling us'. I see what you did there :(

    @mothorchid you may have a point that I didnt react well in my response, I used the words ridiculous. Thats because I dont like being mistreated, my head is intimidating and cutting. makes Anne Robinson look like a softie. If she had just had a friendly word I would have ajusted whatever she wanted.

    Analysing access logs (the system records time in out of the building) and how it was put to me was uncalled for... particularly as I was working on school things, nothing else
     
  7. 50sman

    50sman Lead commenter

    You need to JOIN AS UNION TODAY!

    You say you are strapped for cash - you will be even more strapped for cash if you are got rid of!!!

    You may have to tell them about informal investigation - they will not let you join the minute it becomes formal
     
  8. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    It is interesting that you point out that you were working on school things and nothing else, because until you said that, it had not even crossed my mind that you would be working on anything else.
    However on reading again, you state that you had been working late, not that you currently do this routinely, and also that you informed them of your departure in October.
    Perhaps this means they are unhappy with whatever process you went through to secure your next job? Just speculating.
    If, say, you used school facilities to browse job adverts or process an application or correspond with possible future employers, they could theoretically hold that against you. Or anything not related to school work, theoretically. Mean, yes, but they could. Additionally i wondered if you had perhaps had a job interview without authorising absence?
    You cannot say here, and obviously I'm only guessing, but my point is that whatever they are finding fault with, they appear to have some sort of evidential basis in support of it, in which case your first response, rather than being dismissive of potential gravity, is to ask them what they want to know.
    You don't want to put them in a frame of mind to compound their "evidence". Instead, you should present them with mitigating features of it.
    Bit vague, just concerned about your attempt to dismiss what they are trying to convey as serious.
    Seek union advice, obviously. Register today, and pay for it.

    And stop "mentioning" stuff to colleagues, who in reality are not friends, least of all when you are under a radar. Please don't take all this as an assumption of guilt, more suggestions for caution and prudence given how things stand between you and HT. This is the way forward for those who have done something wrong and equally for those who have done nothing wrong.
     
    Last edited: Nov 18, 2019
  9. GreenTrees123

    GreenTrees123 New commenter

    I'm a headteacher and I have to say that the 'must be more to it' cliche is often true in these situations. Headteachers are people and the vast majority will not start opening investigations (with all the time and resource they take) for no reason or out of personal vendettas when we already have a million other things to do.

    The mental health concerns have probably been raised by a staff member and the school have a safeguarding duty to look into them.

    The staying late issue sounds very strange in all honesty- I can only think that there is a policy stating that staff must vacate the building by a certain time. We have just cut the site management budget at my place, for example, which means that all staff must be out the door by 5pm Monday- Thursday and 4pm on a Friday. Clearly, your head must have reason to believe that you haven't been abiding by this.

    In any event, I can say from a head's point of view that it very rarely ends well for the staff member if they are belligerently defensive or tries to point to conspiracy theories rather than addressing the issues at hand.
     
    Pomza, welshwales, phlogiston and 3 others like this.
  10. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    My school locks the site down at 6.30. All staff - including admin, teachers, and SLT - have to be off site by 6.10pm. (Unless its a parents' evening/Governors Meeting, etc)

    Its possible that by staying until 5.50pm you're not allowing the cleaners and site staff time to clear and lock the building so they can go home without tipping into unpaid overtime. That's a financial concern. If you're the only person in your area, then that is a safeguarding concern. By telling SLT you think they're being "ridiculous" - ouch. If the HT really doesn't like you, you're given her ammunition that you're difficult. You say "if she'd just had a friendly word" you'd have done what she wanted. But your HT isn't like that, from what you've written. As you've already said you're leaving, perhaps the best strategy would have been to just say "yes, accepted," and move on. Some people might say this is giving in. Its also known as keeping yourself out of the firing line until you can breathe a sigh of relief and move on.

    But, I agree with @sbkrobson - do not tell anyone else about this at school. Its always interesting how many people are happy to cheer rebels on from the sidelines, only to then start the whispering campaign about how they deserved to lose their job/bad reference when SLT put them under the kosh.
     
  11. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Which is what gives us all the impression there is more to it. Why do you think the head doesn't like you? What else has been spun against you?
    The logs being printed would have been to check the cleaners complaints that you are there so late.
    Telling the head their concern is 'ridiculous' would generate this response by many heads! (Mine included and he is a fantastic head!)
    You have said you aren't keen to go home...this would raise a concern for any decent employer.
     
    Pomza, IanG, mothorchid and 5 others like this.
  12. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    But why can't the HT just tell everyone what times they are required/allowed to be in school? We were told that we could usually leave immediately after the bell, or stay until 6pm-and if the HT wanted us to be in (or not in) at a different time, she would let us know, generally well in advance (for example if building work was due to take place). Surely common sense should prevail, as some teachers might want to leave immediately to collect their own children (etc) and some might prefer to stay to avoid carrying lots of books.
    If the HT hasn't told everyone this, why not? Of course if OP wants to work on site outside these times, s/he should speak to the HT, but unless you have disobeyed the 'be out at 6pm (etc)' rule, what is the problem?
     
  13. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    That’s exactly it. The OP has clearly stayed later than he/she should- the cleaners have reported the staying until ten minutes ahead of lock up as an issue. The OP does not seem to view this as a concern.
     
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Quite!

    The cleaners raise a concern that a member of staff is staying very late every day.
    Access logs are looked at to see what sort of time the member of staff actually leaves.
    That member of staff 'isn't keen to go home'.
    The head raises this as a concern about safeguarding (lone working) and mental health (not wishing to go home and working so late every day).
    The member of staff sends an email to say it is 'ridiculous'.
    The head responds by saying the member of staff is 'not engaging with concerns' and shows a 'poor response to criticism'

    Nothing here to suggest bullying by the head or any other member of staff.
    Either there is more to it or the OP is digging themselves a hole!
     
    Pomza, starlightexpress, IanG and 5 others like this.
  15. tonymars

    tonymars Established commenter

    **** school. No question. Get out unharmed.
     
    DexterDexter likes this.
  16. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    My mobile lost my earlier post.:(
    Sorry to hear @evehi that you're feeling like this. It sounds as if you may have been through a lot.
    There are lots of thoughts I agree with above.
    All you can alter about the past is the way folk think about it.

    What do you want for the future?
    I hope this includes:
    A removal of the threat of hearings.
    Your expectation to work hard to do the best job you can for the learners you work with for as long as you work there.
    Your desire to support your head in leading the best school she can.
    Your hope to do as much work as possible in the school because you work better there than at home.

    You may need to write things down for a script.
    You may have to eat "humble pie" and apologise for intemperance of language in recent exchanges. For reconciliation, someone has to say sorry first.

    Some heads do seem to be vigorous in their removal of people who don't perform to their liking. (I have experienced a touch of this myself - in retrospect, I'm far happier in an environment where I'm a respected professional again). However, I have not yet heard of heads instituting disciplinary proceedings against people who work too late.
    If your...
    using emotionally powerful language will probably rub her up the wrong way.
    It is not too late to build bridges.
    It's definitely time to polish the CV though.
    Good luck.
     
    Piranha and agathamorse like this.
  17. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    If the school had concerns about your wellbeing, then it was right for them to raise the issue. The appropriate response would be "I'm fine" and a request for clarification of an acceptable time to leave after school. I think that just about any employer would find your response rude and, perhaps, confirmation of their concerns.

    In terms of advice, hard though it may be when you believe yourself to be in the right, but I think you should try to be as cooperative as possible, apologise for the tone of your reply and reassure them about your health. It may be worth thinking about whether you have a colleague you really trust to come with you if it becomes a formal disciplinary situation, but I hope it does not come to that. I doubt if it will.

    It is too late to join a union to deal with this issue, but I think you should join one anyway, to deal with anything else that comes up and because I think that all teachers should be in a union. If money is an issue, this looks like a good offer. https://www.nasuwt.org.uk/why-join.html
     
  18. DexterDexter

    DexterDexter Occasional commenter

    I completely believe you. I have had a head like that before... I kept a log and any completely ridiculous emails I forwarded to the Chair of Governors. I was leaving with a job to go to so not an issue for me.
    When things got extremely unbelievable (put on a support plan for not teaching a scheme we didn’t have!!!!), I wrote a formal complaint to the governors referencing all my other issues. Then I sent it to ofsted who suggested I complained to the DfE as a whistleblower.

    Good luck in escaping that place.
     
  19. I_Love_Books78

    I_Love_Books78 New commenter

    Please join a union asap and get their advice. This H/T clearly wants you out. They will put you on a support plan and go down the capability route. It works in their favour as they can get you out earlier than July which will be cheaper for them. Please look after yourself and know that they are the problem, not you.
     
    DexterDexter likes this.
  20. I_Love_Books78

    I_Love_Books78 New commenter

    Ir reeks of bullying by the head. As an experienced teacher and star commenter I'd have thought you would have read the signs. The OP has handed their notice in and the HT wants them out before July because it will suit them financially.
     
    DexterDexter and agathamorse like this.

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