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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by aseasyasthat, May 8, 2011.

  1. Dear All
    I am coming to the end of my NQT year which has been challenging for having a difficult HOD. I work in a drama department of two at a private school. I've felt undermined and bullied by my HOD which I have reported to my line manager. The last incident involved her speaking badly about me to other members of staff (including some senior management). I received an apology for this but wished to take things further and report her to the Head. I was told to avoid doing this as he was 'useless at dealing with her.'. She's been suspended before for bullying a student. I decided a few weeks ago to leave and apply for another job. I went to see the school I was thinking of applying to last week and realised that I love where I teach - my HOD is the only issue I have. I've arranged a meeting with the Headmaster tomorrow in which I would like to outline the issues I've had this year from the point of view of the professional way in which I would like to work and see the department working as well. I spoke to my union last week who were very supportive. My HOD has isolated the department and her way of working from the rest of the school. I would like to see us working far more with departments such as music (which my HOD despises) as well as far more extra-curriclar work. At the moment, we do one production a year which, last year, dominated the entire Autumn term at the expense of teaching.
    Any advice on the best way forward with this would be greatly appreciated.
    Many thanks.
  2. You appear to have several issues here, initially you explained that you complained about your HOD bullying you and subsequently you referred to organisational issues. So which is it that you want advice on?
    All stories have two sides, what is your HOD saying about you? I am confused as to why, having received an apology, you "wished to take things further". If you accused somebody of bullying you, then there are very clear guidelines to follow. If your HOD acknowledged that she was bullying you and then apologised, that would not be the end of the case as bullying is a very serious accusation to make and has to be rigorously investigated.
    Was your complaint investigated? Were the guidelines followed? If the latter were followed, how could the Head not know?
  3. The fact is that the bullying issue has not been resolved - my HOD continues to behave in an unprofessional manner toward me. After the incident in which they apologised, this term started with them continuing to complain about me to other members of staff. I have been trying to teach and work in a professional manner. Essentially, I'm working with a colleague who is not a teacher but an artist without method or structure making it difficult to do my job effectively. The complaint was not investigated as bullying is a highly contentious issue which my line manager warned me off from pursuing. My action was to look for another job, however, I don't see why I should be pushed out of an otherwise good job by bad practise on the part of my HOD. Therefore, I decided to go to my Head as he is not aware of the incidents and I wish to discuss how to move forward next year. I am asking for any advice on this meeting and the best way to deal with this situation in general.
  4. Jobs are hard to come by in the present climate and will probably continue to be so for the foreseeable future. As you have expressed a wish to remain at this school, you will have to reach a compromise with your HOD. So, olive branch, working together, etc, though the Head has to look at the needs of the whole of the school and how a shooting war that has erupted between a department of two affects school life and academic achievement may not give him much room to manoeuvre. Additionally, if you have applied for posts or been seen to apply for posts at other schools or let it be known that you were actively considering going to pastures new, then your position is intrinsically weakened
    In an earlier posting on May 2nd you stated
    "Although the school were initially supportive, when I pressed them to take action they withdrew their support and threatened me with a poor reference, despite being told I've been doing an excellent job"

    Others may have some thoughts on your predicament, but if it is as you say it is, then either mend fences or leave!
  5. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    Is your HT the next level of management after your HoD? If not you might be better going to just above your HoD first. Going 'straight to the top' will mean you cut off possible levels of support later. Also HTs tend not to be too keen to listen to squabbles between members of staff, let alone do anything about them.

    If you want to work more with other departments, then you can do so. Just set up some small opportunity with another teacher to start with. Once that is a success, do it again with a different group and so on.

    Working with someone who is of a totally different temperament to you is horrible, I've been there and it drove me mad the way it is you. You need to find ways round it rather than try and fight it.

    But you cannot really complain to the HT about her complaining about you to senior staff. Pot and kettle? Also it is her department not yours, however galling it is to know you could do a better job. You might well run things differently, but it isn't for you to dictate how things are done.

    The best thing to do really is rise above her gossiping (as that is more what it sounds like than bullying from what you have posted) and spend your time with good and decent members of staff. It sounds as if many know what your HoD is like and so they won't be believing anything she says. They also probably feel a lot of sympathy for you working in that dept. Her saying stuff isn't an issue for you, other people believing it is and this doesn't appear to be happening.

    It isn't great and I do sympathise, but I don't honestly think complaining right to the top is your best strategy. Good Luck.
  6. Brilliant advice, thank you. Initially the meeting was set up to tell him I was applying elsewhere. Now I've decided to stay I was trying to shift the focus to voicing my complaints. This hasn't felt entirely comfortable or right (kettle/black indeed). When offering me the job he warned me how difficult the HOD could be so I'm sure he has some awareness, even if it's not full knowledge, of what's been happening. I have great support and understanding from other staff members so will keep my focus there.
    If nothing else, it's a great strengthener and experience!
    Thanks again.
  7. minnieminx

    minnieminx New commenter

    In that case, since he already knows, keep the appointment. Say more or less what you have here. That you set up the meeting to let him know you were thinking of applying elsewhere, but are actually extremely happy in the school, just finding working with your HoD very, very difficult and upsetting. Tell him that you have decided not to apply elsewhere as you really want to stay, but are unsure how to make things more manageable.

    After another year or so you will be ready to think about leading a dept somewhere and so can move them. It isn't forever, just do what you have to do and come on here for a (carefully worded) whinge.

    But do make sure you are whiter than white when it comes to whining about your HoD. Even if you can say "I was in tears because of what they said and just told a colleague why I was crying" the other person can say that is more or less what they did too.
  8. NQT told what to do by experienced HoD.

    NQT not used to being told what to do, starts shouting about 'bullying' and 'unprofessional behaviour'.
    HoD not sacked on whim of NQT.
    NQT throws teddy bear out of cot....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz

  9. NQT told what to do by experienced HoD.

    NQT not used to being told what to do, starts shouting about 'bullying' and 'unprofessional behaviour'.
    HoD not sacked on whim of NQT.
    NQT throws teddy bear out of cot....zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz
  10. Absolutely! It never ceases to amaze me that people believe that because they say something is so, it is so!

    Must be a fun place to work!
  11. Dear All
    Thanks for your interesting replies - my HOD was suspended for bullying four years ago. Another case of bulling is being brought against her by one of the pupils. As an NQT, I would be delighted to be led in how and what I should teach. This hasn't been the case - the HOD has relied on me designing the SOWs for this year as she hasn't got any. If being screamed at for not doing your job (despite emails indicating otherwise for which an apology by HOD was issued), told to cover rehearsals for A level (which I don't teach) as HOD wishes to go on holiday with (now ex boyfriend), lied to about budgeting so that my GCSE group had no budget whilst a miraculous £200 appeared for hers (has been verified by accounts, meeting with them pending), and telling members of staff that she doesn't like me isn't bullying then I'd like your definition of what is.
    Good news - no meeting with Headmaster needed. Deputy Head has approached me to ask for an outline of this years events in light of accusations by pupils and other staff members. Praise from Headmaster for managing this year (he warned me of how 'difficult' the HOD was) and all A's for my Year 11 moderation.
    Guess NQTs sometimes get it right.

  12. Nice reply!!! As a fellow NQT it was nice to see you hold you own. well done :)
  13. Sport22

    Sport22 New commenter

    It may be time for the HOD to retire, sounds like a right pain!
    Hope things work out for you!

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