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Capability and pregnant!!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Goldli44, Feb 20, 2016.

  1. Goldli44

    Goldli44 New commenter

    Hi fellow teachers,

    I am writing here as I don't know what to do anymore and I hope I could get some objective advice on this very useful forum. (There are details such as my subject and TLR that I prefer to keep vague for anonymity).

    I have been in a school for many years now. I was put on informal capability in 2014 (last school year) as the Head believed that my results had not been good enough for the last previous two years. I was a bit shaken at the time but I did really well over the process and was judged consistently good with outstanding features in my observations.

    My mentor, a member of SLT was very pleased and said I was doing well when we last reviewed it in 2015. He said "you passed all your targets, now we just need to wait for the last target which is the results in August of your Yr 11 class".

    I had the bottom set for many years in a row and I did raise that their targets were too high and unrealistic. Targets which were based on Year 6 English level for a modern language, having done none of that language before Year 7 unlike core subjects.

    Later in that year, when the head was out for a few weeks, I was promoted and got a TLR (which I don't want to give away for anonymity reason, but is not linked to my subject) in addition to my language teaching role that started in September.

    In August, the results showed what I expected, most students achieved 2 levels of progress, which could look bad as a headline, however when compared to other subects, apart from 2 students out of 13, all others performed EQUALLY or BETTER with me than in other subjects.

    The year started well and I got very good praise for my TLR by several members of SLT and other colleagues, saying that I had made a very strong start, doing well etc...the team I was managing was also very happy working with me.

    In November, the head let me know that she was not happy with my performance and that I was going to receive a formal letter inviting me to a formal meeting to review my performance in the modern language, I was advised to bring a union rep. I was again shocked as I didn't expect that, having had very good observations consistently, doing really well in my new role and thinking she would have looked at my students results across the board before jumping to conclusions on the fact that my teaching was the problem and that it needed to be scrutinised again.

    When I received the letter, I also found out I was pregnant. I was again shaken and during a conversation with my the gp about the stress the situation was putting me undef they signed me off for stress at work. When the union contacted her to ask whether it was going to be formal or informal she said it was just for support and not formal.

    At my return to work meeting recently, she said that she removed my TLR, as she said the process will start after my phased return and that I need to concentrate on my teaching which needs to improve. She also added some classes and lessons to my timetable to make up for the loss of TLR. She made it clear that the process will be more formal than last year, shorter and potentially leading on to formal although that cannot be assumed.

    Other details of my working conditions include no classrooms, I have to move between many rooms everyday, all day unlike all other full time teachers.

    Now I am 15 weeks pregnant (they know about it) I feel completely beaten, undermined, demotivated, and disrespected, I don't know what to do and what my best options are so that I can still get a good reference, my salary and my maternity. This is my first baby, I have worked in that place for many years, I have always worked very hard, my attendance before that episode of stress has always been excellent and I am in a position of losing everything...at this crucial time of my life...

    I would be grateful on your advice. What would you do in my position? What are my rights? The unions seem to be suggesting a Settlement Agreement. However, how can I be sure, the SA will match with what I would have if I worked until due date and got the maternity. I am extremely worried about the process, the outcome and the financial implications during my pregnancy, which should be a happy time.

    Thanks for your advice....
  2. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    You've worked there for many years? Does that mean you are perhaps expensive? UPS?

    You are not fully accountable for your students results, the students are. Time we got a grip of this. If the school sets the targets too high that is their fault (been there done that)

    Removing a TLR. Was the TLR permanent? If so, then if it is removed then you should have 3 years protection of pay.

    No classroom doesn't help although sometimes unavoidable. That said, I knew the writing was on the wall for me when for the first time in 25 years in the school I was not given my own teaching room.

    Why do unions always default to the 'settlement agreement'? They should be fighting for teacher's jobs and especially if you are pregnant.
    hilarynorton likes this.
  3. guinnesspuss

    guinnesspuss Star commenter

    Sorry to hear all of this. I'm afraid I can't give any advice, but I didn't want you to feel no one cares. There are lots of lovely people on here who may be able to give you better advice than I.
    Just take care of yourself and the baby.
    hilarynorton likes this.
  4. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    Even if you were only doing/had done 1/4 of what you describe you would not deserve to be treated like this. @GLsghost has always tried to give relevant help re workplace rights as I am not sure whether your state of pregnancy gives you some added protection from this kind of action by your management.

    I think it is high time our useless unions started to fight these ridiculous aspirational and magic mushroom land targets. Why do we allow ourselves to be judged on questionable data which all too often is meaningless in our subject areas? Year after year I would pipe up that Eng and Maths SATS scores conjured up meaningless targets for GCSE PE and was met with a sardonic shrug of the shoulders by the DH data.

    The emperor is stark bullock naked !
    Compassman likes this.
  5. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    I am desperately sad you are being treated in such a despicable way. You need to put yourself and baby first. You may well have to get yourself signed off again. Being pregnant and the outline of their plans for you are not compatible.

    Take care of yourself and your baby. They can go and take a running jump.
    Compassman likes this.
  6. pixiewixiepixie

    pixiewixiepixie Occasional commenter

    Teaching Unions are just not fit for purpose anymore. When did their fight go? Why are they so keen to go for settlement agreements anytime a member has a problem? What a waste of a subscription fee they have become. Shame on all the teaching unions.
    sjw3915 likes this.
  7. drek

    drek Star commenter

    I'm so sorry to hear this. Please think carefully and make a decision that will cause you and your baby the least stress possible.
    Having gone through the same situation, and having no personal responsibilities at that time, I stayed, to the detriment of my career.
    It is not just your job at the school remember...the dfe were prepared to lose millions in teacher training costs to end teacher's careers and get away with senseless waste by convincing taxpayers that they were improving standards.
    I found that in reality, the unions have no legal right to interfere in school management decisions over an employees capability. So you are on your own. They will sit through meetings that declare you made great progress, but then let the school give you a bottom set with sky high targets which they will reassure you are only 'targets' not to measure your performance against. They retract this as you found out. Again they can because they have been given government permission to abuse this power.
    They agreed to that when they sat in in local policy change agreements and teachers were encouraged to sign to blanket 'future' policy changes by school under the guise of allowing management to bring in 'improvements'.
    Which is why unions go for settlements.
    They are also trained to 'reassure' those faced with the sudden career loss to undertake this action in a 'positive' manner and to see it as 'supportive'. In other words they cannot advise you to stay or go.
    They know what is round the corner in this pot luck capability lottery.
    If you have been outstanding most of your career, how is it possible to go backwards?
    Most teachers in this position realise pretty soon that in order to keep their career, the one they trained and worked at so hard for, it is worth sacrificing the current job, particularly now one has got a glimpse of their manager's true colours.
    Hang in there while you make a decision that works best for you!
    We are all with you all the way x
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi Goldli

    Firstly, congratulations on your new baby; I know it is very difficult for you at this time, but try to focus on the new exciting part of your life. Put yourself and your baby first.

    Drek has written a insightful post of someone who gone through the same situation and I agree with the last line: "Most teachers in this position realise pretty soon that in order to keep their career, the one they trained and worked at so hard for, it worth sacrificing the current job, particularly now one has got a glimpse of their manager's true colours."

    You probably will need to look for another post, but as you say you need to make sure you get a good reference and your maternity pay.

    Ensure you keep in touch with your union. Also, call the Teacher Support Network who have trained staff for you to talk to. When you speak to your union, write down all your concerns just as you have in your post; don't be shy - make sure they are doing the best for you. Ask them about any legal representation they could provide. Go to the highest level in the union.

    Although it may be hard to bear now, you will get through this with the right support and be able to enjoy your new baby. Your job is not you and you are worth more than a job. There are schools out there I am sure that will love to have you without all the hassle you are experiencing now.
  9. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter


    You work for idiots who can't do numbers and do not keep abreast of developments in the profession.

    Teacher input does not equal pupil output. Lots of thing impact on results, and teachers are thought - according to published research - not to account for much more than 30 or so %.

    I can't see any point pursuing this or fighting it. They are not the sort of people you should be working for anyway. Get what you can wring out of them and run!

    This might help back up and arguments you make, but it will not change anyone's mind


    It's worth reading around that blog, and some of those other blogs on it, as there are several excellent pieces on data, assessment, progress etc
    mseerie and pepper5 like this.
  10. thomkat

    thomkat New commenter

    Having seen the start of similar in my last school I decided to change schools and feel infinitely happier, more appreciated and recognised for my hard work. Don't feel any loyalty, they've shown you none. Honestly, I would cut and run.

    However, in your position you must ensure a decent settlement. The whole process in fact only highlights their own failings towards YOU. Capability -> good with outstanding + TLR -> capability. It really makes no sense unless they're saying they are themselves useless with regard to their own monitoring and support systems. Play every card you've got and keep coming back to their shortcomings and inconsistancy. You've got plenty of proof of your hard work and efforts.
  11. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    If I had to guess you are too expensive. Is the average age of the teaching staff plummeting to around 22? Older colleagues disappearing? Time to get out!
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  12. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    Absolutely shocking! What other profession would put up with this rubbish. Anyone considering becoming a teacher in England today is stupid.
    Mrsmumbles and sjw3915 like this.
  13. slingshotsally

    slingshotsally Star commenter

    Hi Goldie,

    I am really sorry for you, the situation sounds unbearable. For you and your baby's well being, I would recommend that you go to your Doctor and site work Place stress. Contact your union and ensure they support you fully.

    I am extremely sorry that I cannot support you in some other, more practical way.


    Mrsmumbles and Yoda- like this.
  14. confused2

    confused2 New commenter

    I am really sorry to hear of your difficult situation. I can only offer some of my personal experience of going through a similar situation with work place bullying. If you are going to go down a settlement agreement route, please have in your mind that this route is to get yourself out of a stressful situation. The settlement agreement is unlikely to give you very much money and will just cover 1-3 months wage (this will vary on specific situations so ask your union rep what they think they would be able to get). If there are a lot of people in your council getting SA's this may well also influence how much you get as my rep said that HR were giving less and less each time he attempted to get SA's.

    I think it is great that you did so well in your previous informal capability plan. I suggest you get a folder and have sections for all standards and then start collecting good pieces of evidence for each section to show how you meet the criteria. Like Thomkat says, show them up for their inconsistencies and make sure the union support you in meetings.

    I understand how stressful this process can become so if worse comes to worse and the stress becomes too much, then ask to be signed off by your doctor. You will have to keep returning so that they can monitor how you are feeling, but if the doctor feels that you are under significant stress (which you are), your doctor will be able to sign you off for the duration of your pregnancy.

    Good luck!
  15. saluki

    saluki Lead commenter

    What were your plans before all this happened? Were you going to return to work full time/ part time, or become a full time Mum?
    You and your baby are most important at this time. Go off with work related stress, if necessary, for the rest of your pregnancy. If you can afford it, spend some time at home with your baby, and only return to work when you want/need to.
    Once you are a Mum, things will look very different indeed. You decide when you will return to work. I advise you to find another job, perhaps without a TLR.
    Good Luck
    mseerie likes this.
  16. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Indeed I do and so do a number of other long-term posters with considerable experience of workplace rights.

    Yet none of us has posted on this thread...and the OP has never been back.

    Funny, that...
    emilystrange likes this.
  17. Goldli44

    Goldli44 New commenter

    Thanks all for your support, advice and help. I have been with family discussing this all weekend, unfortunately I still don't know what to do.

    I really thought pregnant women would have much more protection than to have to fight for maternity and going through massive stress on how to be able to stay in a job that won't put their career in jeopardy...such as formal capability.

    @GLsghost I don't really understand what you mean in your message...could you clarify??

    Many thanks everyone.
    Scintillant likes this.
  18. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

  19. mseerie

    mseerie New commenter

    You don't want extreme stress and a pregnancy at the same time. You also don't want the guilt of putting yourself through this by the time you become a mother.

    Your days are numbered in this school. Obviously you can't get a new job while you are pregnant. That is just the reality for any pregnant woman.

    So, see your GP and ask for advice regarding your current stress levels. If the GP agrees, get time off, as long as you need. Follow that with maternity leave. After that, resign and start looking for another job. Sign up with some supply agencies as well.

    I doubt the settlement agreement will cover more than a normal period of notice.

    They are less likely to annoy you once you resign.
  20. Goldli44

    Goldli44 New commenter

    Hi mseerie,

    As for everyone else on this thread, thank you for your support and advice, very appreciated.

    What are the implications of long sick leave for "stress" on a reference?

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