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Cannot believe what just happened

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by FrauleinGM, Feb 3, 2020.

  1. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    Hi all, I've been posting on here about my health issues and the whole process with absence management, going to OH and my work not implementing any adjustments. Work said after 3 weeks of having my OH report that it wasn't clear enough and went back questioning the doctor. I got my union involved who wrote to the school. Without going into detail, school didn't take the union involvement very well.
    So this morning my line manager requests a meeting so I go in thinking it's a regular thing. He then proceeds to tell me that this is an 'informal' performance capability meeting but he will be taking notes and it is under school stage 1 capability procedure. I had no notice of any capability meetings. There have never been any concerns expressed to me regarding my performance. Ever. I've had quite a lot of absences due to my health problems - they've already put me on capability for that and gave me an attendance target and I'm doing my best to meet it although they haven't made any adjustments.
    So anyway I was so shocked and upset. I said I am not having this performance meeting without proper notice and my union. My HOD then says I'm not entitled to union representation for an informal meeting, I said its not informal if it's minutes and under stage 1 procedure. I walked out, I was literally shaking.
    Broke down in tears, called my union and my gp. Continued to cry, said that I'm too upset to work and went home.
    I cannot believe this is happening. I have never ever had any performance issues I was observed once, last year (by slt) - the lesson was outstanding. The HOD (who is only temporary until September) has NEVER seen me teach. In fact he doesn't even teach the subject. They're using some bugus reasons, a girl who missed 3 weeks of classes to be in a school play and then performed badly in a test. Another girl who is extremely weak and with lots of SEN but when u suggested we should enter her for foundation all her broke lose.
    I am beyond shocked. Cannot believe this is happening. I had excellent results last year, some of the best in the department. Now suddenly I am a weak teacher. I think they are retaliating for me involving the union. I just don't know what to do cannot see myself going back there . So unbelievably upset, I think I am being bullied out of my job. What do I do now...
  2. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    You've mentioned contacting union and GP, and those 2 things are definitely essential. Follow their advice in terms of being signed off, next stages with the meetings etc.
    Sounds hideous, but you did the right thing in walking out.
    If you have access to school systems get a copy of their policy. Ours state union reps can attend at any stage, informal or not.
    Union advice here that may help before your union bods get back to you https://neu.org.uk/advice/capability-procedure-school-staff.
    I suppose it is possible that maybe your school is describing what should be referred to as informal as "stage 1"...but as you point out, it certainly sounds as if it was pretty formal!
  3. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

  4. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Your HoD has overstepped the mark and is clearly willfully ignorant of how to proceed.

    You received no letter of the meeting. You are allowed representation.

    Union. Now.
  5. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    Thank you. I've had OH assessment in December. They said my condition may amount to a disability if it lasts over 12 months which at the moment it hasn't. Basically it's dependent on when I can get treatment for it (I'm awaiting a consultation for a surgical procedure that can fix it permanently).
    The OH report recommended some adjustments. I had my formal stage 1 absence meeting and they said they would consider the adjustments. This was 1 month ago and they haven't made any of them. When I got union involved, I suddenly got hit with performance management for completely made up reasons. I cannot stress enough how ridiculous it is. I haven't even had an observation or a performance management meeting all year.
    I feel like I'm living in a Kafka novel.
    Don't know if I'm strong enough to fight it...
  6. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    It is an informal meeting. However I’d look to your school’s capability policy around the language of this. Is informal classed as stage one? Typically, informal is recorded with an action plan and notes of meeting. You’d sign the action plan. You wouldn’t get notice of informal procedures and you’d be expected to comply with them.

    Possibly your performance has been impacted by your poor attendance? It may be worth thinking to this. They can run processes alongside each other however it’s not common. Is it worth recording this and cite that once your attendance improves, performance will also in line with this? You’re on capability for attendance? It’s typically separate procedures.

    The school did nothing wrong in seeking clarity from medical professionals. How will they consider making reasonable adjustments without clear guidance? They’d want to get it right. I recall reading your previous post. I would not have got union involved. School were clearly seeking advice and were not given full opportunity to get this. If they are narked, do you blame them? You now threatened union again.

    I’d advise going back in, apologising for your reaction (say you were surprised and have had a lot happen lately) and engaging in the support plan. Maybe your performance has changed since last year’s outstanding? You have been poorly and absent, after all. If you feel you’re being pushed out, then be pro active and look for a job in the background. Engage now in both sets of targets as you’ll want the best reflection of you moving forward.
  7. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    Thanks for your reply. I appreciate its hard to understand the situation fully without knowing the details and for obvious reasons I can't post most details on here. However in response to what you've raised
    Not, my performance has categorically not changed. My lessons are every bit as good as they were last year. And I have not been observed this year at all so they cannot claim otherwise.
    I do not think it is wrong to have got my union involved when they put me on formal absence management. After all, that's what unions are there for I think. The school gets legal advice from HR, why shouldn't I get legal advice too when my job is potentially at stake?
    If the school is indeed narked as you say then retaliating with a made up performance capability thing is hardly the right or indeed legal response.
    The school did have medical advice. Twice now, from their own attested OH Doctor. Its the delay in implementing any support that has led to me seeking union support.
    I don't think I have anything to apologise for. I am not going to roll over and let them walk all over me. I know people in my school have been scared of getting the union involved. I just refuse to go down the same route. Maybe it's stupid and maybe I'll regret it but it feels utterly wrong not to even try and fight it.
    pepper5, makras, strawbs and 2 others like this.
  8. TheOracleAtDelphi

    TheOracleAtDelphi Established commenter

    I thought FrauleinGM's complaint was that it had taken three weeks for the school to seek additional clarification, rather than they had sought clarity? I.e. the issue was the timeliness rather than the communication per se. I am probably misremembering from the previous post though...
    FrauleinGM likes this.
  9. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    The issue is the timing of the mention of capability in relation to the school's first sight of union involvement.
    Your union will be crawling all over this in glee as it is one textbook scenario which is rare in its stupidity.
    I cannot comment on your performance. It is in fact irrelevant to my point.
    What is relevant is the timing and the procedure, both of which have been skewed into cackhandedness by the school.
  10. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    Thank you. I've been so upset by this, literally feel like all I've done today is cry. It is so good that I am not just going completely insane thinking that this is wrong. I know some people will say that involving the union is aggressive on my part but I really do not regret it. After all that's why we join unions. Thank you again. You've made me feel a bit better tonight.
    pepper5 and sbkrobson like this.
  11. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    Yes, I understand that you cannot share everything and we’re responding to only a picture shared.

    Have the school now put in support linked to medical professional advice?

    Remember you’re in a professional setting. Yes, you may be upset. Yes, you may feel the situation is/was unfair. However, you are expected to behave in a professional manner. Not doing so, when you’re already under processes, can exacerbate a situation. If you feel they are behaving wrongly meet them with ultra professionalism yourself. I still advise to compose and apologise for your reaction. Behaving in a way they will view as unprofessional (you know that’ll be the case), is not helpful- for you- that’s why I advise it. It will trigger comment on code of conduct and professional standards. You do not need this in the mix.

    I would guide on not just taking the advice or responses which validate your feelings. You’ll get a range of advice on here. Some comes with personal emotional stuff attached; some is more detached. Additionally, don’t look to others in school being scared and you not wanting to be like them.

    What you’re experiencing is not going to go away so it’s now how you approach it. Pause. Be considered. Respond with facts and not emotion. Has your attendance now improved? Seek the evidence for your performance and their view on it. It is about more than observations, as you’ll know. Your absence will have had some impact on outcomes purely through not being there to teach them in your style. Now you’re back in school you can show your impact. It sounds like you’ll meet targets set in a plan.

    Take a step back and consider your approach. This is your job now and you also have a future career. I’m not saying it’s right or wrong but sometimes it’s about not fighting with union. You can challenge without the sort of fight you refer to. You can still seek union advice but use it to give you assurance or confidence in dealing with situations feeling fully informed. This is more powerful in some ways.

    Plus, if you’re engaging with union with their full and active involvement, it’s best to solely follow their advice and not mix it with advice on here.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I'm not sure how much the last post is attuned to OPs actual experience and reasons for posting, and to that extent is a bit off piste.
    In fact if OPs recent story has been carefully read it comes across as patronising towards their very real dilemma.
  13. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    I don't believe that walking out of that meeting was unprofessional. My union doesn't think so. Not ideal I agree but I felt I had no choice. Again I can't post too many details on here but there is a real issue with people being pulled into all sorts of meetings without a chance to prepare. I didn't do anything bad - I didn't shout or swear or slam the door. I just said I'm not prepared to have this meeting right now without consulting the union and I left.
    I am already on formal absence management. I accept it. Incidentally, none of the OH recommendations have been implemented. Nor have I or the union been told the reasons. It has been over a month now. OH report stated I'm fit for work with some adjustments. The adjustments haven't been made. If I am then struggling is it really fair to place me on capability?
    I am following my unions advice. They have been really good so far. I come on here for support and some sane voices. I am off with stress at the moment. I slept precisely 1 hour last night because the stress is so intense I'm unable to sleep. It is good sometimes to hear that I am not mad for thinking this isn't right. And that there is someone who listens and understands.
    makras likes this.
  14. strawbs

    strawbs Established commenter

    take care @FrauleinGM , hope you get some sleep tonight
    FrauleinGM likes this.
  15. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    Thanks for confirming the OH recommendations have not been put in place.

    If the case is they’re identifying performance issues (and you say you’re struggling- possibly you mean with doing role without adjustments as opposed to performance), and you’ve not received the recommended adjustments, then that can be raised as part of your response to to the two processes you’re now under.

    As sbkrobson commented previously, the timing (two processes and post union) is less than ideal- and it no doubt will be commented on by union and will be a risk factor for the school in terms of their approach. You know that though and a considered response will be key.

    I do hope you get some sleep tonight or maybe have managed some today. I can only imagine the stress you feel and, without doubt, you are in a tough, tough situation. However, there can be a way forward, especially if you are an outstanding teacher. It just won’t seem like it now.

    I’m a real supporter / promoter of talking therapies/ counselling. I aim not sound patronising, but supportive, in recommending counselling or similar to you for that listening and understanding. The special thing is that you’ll be heard for what you share and how you feel.
  16. Ohwell

    Ohwell New commenter

    Absolutely stand up for yourself and your union are there to assist in this. How on earth is involving the union aggressive? We pay hundreds of pounds a year, we should be involving them more! Every decent school I worked in had no issue whatsoever with unions and actively engaged with them. Other schools, however, more unpleasant stories....and strangely a high turnover of staff...
    makras, ATfan, agathamorse and 2 others like this.
  17. makras

    makras Occasional commenter

    Please don't apologise to any one, that will hot help you. It will make you look weak and you'll be a target sooner or later. Also don't listen to some of the absurd comments on here. They're not in your shoes thus they have no clue.

    As Ohwell said, stick to your gut feeling and fight them back. You must let your union deal with everything. Never go to a meeting alone. Believe me they'll find ways to turn things round or make things up and blame you. BEWARE.

    Your senior managers and their superiors have no quarrels in making your life a misery.

    Keep that in mind.

    All the best and good luck.
    agathamorse, Ohwell and FrauleinGM like this.
  18. makras

    makras Occasional commenter

    I don't know how you do things in England but in Scotland, local authorities have their own procedures and guidelines to follow. Still, some wicked managers do misuse/abuse them.

    From my own experience I know that the more you read and learn about the recommended procedures, the more you'll find that your school and possibly your LA have messed up. The first obvious mistake to me is that you're told you're not allowed a union rep. That's BS and unlawful.

    Don't worry too much, think of it as challenge that you have to overcome. It will keep you on edge for some time , but you’ll learn how to tackle it. Just remember; do your homework and read every document that deals with your employment such as teacher code of conduct, absence/performance policy etc.

    Never attend meetings alone, do not sign anything without your union rep present and every communication with you needs to be written for evidence. No phone conversations.

    Because most of your colleagues (like quite a lot of teachers) are unfortunately sheeple. No one is your friend. You’re on your own.

    In confidence speak to a colleague that you trust (a lot) for support and advice. It can make things easier.

    Lastly, don't despair, you’ll be fine. Think or this:

    - What is the worst thing that could happen to you?

    You get sacked? can you live with that? can you get another job? but it won't happen, it needs to be major gross misconduct.

    Well,there are employment laws and lots of procedures to be followed before they can do that. They must have a big reason to do that. But your school have a duty of care to support you first to improve this situation.

    All the best, keep your head up and keep fighting.
    agathamorse and FrauleinGM like this.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Indeed they are not in your shoes and have no clue about the situation or the people involved.
    However, as is the nature of internet forums, they will still give you their opinions.

    As seen here...
    FrauleinGM likes this.
  20. FrauleinGM

    FrauleinGM New commenter

    Thanks for your replies everyone. I read all of them and have been trying to make sense of it all.
    I have a meeting scheduled in a weeks time, with the regional union rep present. My Dr has signed me off with stress in the meantime as I cannot even think about going back whilst things are unresolved.
    Union rep has said the meeting is about the whole health thing and they shouldn't be mixing that with performance capability (which is the thing I absolutely oppose as if is completely made up).
    I'm aware that if they want to make up capability issues and push me out then they will, regardless of how good my teaching is.
    To give you an idea of how ridiculous this is - the person in charge of my department (until September) is someone who doesn't even teach my subject and has virtually no understanding of it.
    I've never had an appraisal or any targets set.
    I haven't been observed even once all of this academic year.
    The 'HOD' couldn't even tell me about what policy they were following or whether this would go on my record.

    One of the annoying things is that due to being signed off now because of the stress I will miss my attendance target which I would have met this term I think if it weren't for their behaviour.

    It's all so messy and feels so dismal at the moment. I know that if they want to get rid of me (which is seems they do) then they will find a way. I just really want enough time and a good enough reference to find something else. Cannot survive without a job.

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