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capability confusion!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by png68, Mar 27, 2017.

  1. png68

    png68 New commenter

    I am currently coming to the end of an informal procedure and it has taken a turn for the worse.
    Extended original informal capability by another 3 weeks - previous plan was not adhered to properly by the school and all the support was not forthcoming - was let down by the school.
    Requested an impartial weekly observation to inform my practice before the final observation.
    On Thursday the 2nd impartial observation did not go very well and it was suggested that the final observation would deem my progress inadequate and therefore lead to formal capability.
    All these observations and final decisions are being made by the same person.
    Even though the final observation or review meeting has not happened I suggested resigning, so I was allowed and encouraged to take time off of work to 'get myself together' and 'think about things', which I did and I took Monday off as suggested by the union because I felt so demoralised and uncomfortable being there because I am an inadequate teacher surely what role would I be taking on? The Union rep did not get back to me and here I am unsure what to do.
    My friends say I should go in and act like nothing is happening and get back into class, I am feeling like I do want to go back there - embarrassed and demoralised - its a small school.
    I do not know what to do - I feel embarrassed to make a scene there since it does seem very personal and friendly there, it would be worse - there are a lot of big changes happening there at the moment.

    I wondered if at the final informal capability review meeting they decided to take it to formal capability, is this immediately on my record - or do I have time to resign before it is put in place?

    Please help! I do not want to jeopardise my future career as a teacher, even though I need to improve my practice they did not support me correctly and consistently to help me to improve my practice - it was shocking to be honest.

    Please advise - in anticipation thank you
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Reading between the lines.

    They really want you to make life easy for them and go gracefully. They've tried to help you along that route by giving you some time.

    What friends? Friends who know anything about teaching?

    The writing is on the wall for you in this school. I would seriously think about starting again elsewhere. Tell school you think it IS time you moved on and you will need a fair (good) reference to enable you to do so. How do they feel about this? Could they replace you at short notice? Would they help you out with salary for a month or two while you go on supply and before you secure a temporary or permanent contract?

    Get on to the union. I'd say your number is up so the union need to help you navigate the best possible exit.
  3. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Nobody here is going to give you better advice than your Union.
    But to help you sleep, there will be a way to escape happily with good references before any Formal Capability kicks in.
    That's where you need the union support, and frankly that is what your Head is expecting, I think.
    Take some time off, a day or so use the time to get the right person on the union, and be brief if they say "somebody will get back to you"
    Say "my school are about to put me on formal capability"
    They ought to jump to that.
    You are not at a point where this needs to go onto your record or future applications. You need to act with advice though

    EDIT-GDW agree
  4. shrosemartin

    shrosemartin New commenter

    Hi, I am now in formal capability with my review meeting after the Easter break. I just had the worst lesson observation deemed inadequate. I am not sure if informal capability goes on your record, but formal stays on there for a year. I wish I resigned before the formal process. Ask your union representative for advice, maybe you could could do a deal if you resign that you get a good reference and are taken off capability, so you can get a new job/ do supply work. Best of luck.
  5. rooney1

    rooney1 Occasional commenter

    Definitely get your union involved. It does sound as if you are in a school where you don't fit. If you do go back tomorrow - don't agree to anything - explain that you are waiting for union advice and are not in a position to make decisions without having consulting the union. Or take a couple of days off as suggested above until you are clear about your options.
  6. png68

    png68 New commenter

    wow - thank you so much for your frank and informed answers - so helpful and quick!
    It has been so stressful and hard work.
    I am annoyed the Union rep did not call me today - think that is a bad sign!?
    I am planning on going in tomorrow and perform my role as class teacher and try to not say or agree to anything until I hear from my Union rep - even though I am so nervous about going in.
    Grumpydogowoman you are right when you say 'what' friends ?? There are too many teachers in the school so they can easily replace me too.
    Thanks sbkrobson I have contacted the Union and I think I should have been more insistent today when I couldn't get hold of my rep.
    I am sorry to hear you are going through the process too, shrosemartin, I do not envy you - I would not be strong enough to go through that.
    This is such a nasty experience!
    Thanks for your messages
    grumpydogwoman and peggylu like this.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You absolutely need to involve you union as a matter of urgency.
    You need to leave before the formal capability begins, but you also need an agreed reference for any future employment.
    Ring the national helpline. You need union support as soon as possible.

    Remember you are not an inadequate teacher, the system is inadequate.
    I spent a year in the position you are now in, being told (yelled at) daily that I was inadequate. Not my lessons, not my teaching, but me. I left utterly demoralised, as you are now.
    But the next school I went to deemed by first observation as good. (I'd spent the entire time trying not to cry with panic!)
    After that all observations in the next two schools have been good and outstanding.
    It wasn't me who was inadequate and it almost certainly isn't you.
  8. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    When is this inhumane method of removing teachers going to stop. :mad:

    I'm so sorry you are yet another person being put through this torturous informal farce and sham @png68

    Really good advice has been given in the posts above, let your union guide you. They are, unfortunately, now experts on these situations.

    It doesn't really help, but please know that this easy way of shoehorning teachers out of their jobs is so common now that it no longer affects your future employment opportunities as it once did. This doesn't make it right but at least it doesn't end careers anymore.
  9. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I hope reading this does help the OP right now.
    In that panic moment of '*** is happening?' knowing that it doesn't automatically mean the end of a career ought to bring some comfort.
  10. blicktoria

    blicktoria New commenter

    I'm so sorry to hear what has been happening to you. I don't have any advice (sorry) but I just wanted to say something very similar is happening to my year group partner at the moment. She is a brilliant and experienced teacher and somebody I really look up to but unfortunately our phase leader does not like her style of teaching. Please just remember that even if your managers don't see how amazing you are, there are colleagues and students who do.
  11. daisy1603

    daisy1603 Occasional commenter

    @png68 I am currently coming towards the end of informal capability - via a settlement agreement so can completely sympathise with how stressful and demeaning your current situation is.

    As others have said, definitely get your union involved immediately- I have been incredibly lucky to have great support throughout the process from my union; I honestly wouldn't have been able to get to where I am now without them.

    What I would say is do not go to any meetings without a union rep (or at the very least a colleague you feel you can trust) with you and take minutes of anything said in such meetings (or get the colleague/rep to do that).

    Although easier said than done (I still spend many hours a day/have nightmares thinking about my situation) realise there is nothing you could have done to change where you find yourself- for whatever reason, the school has decided they no longer want you and this is the quickest (and potentially quietest) way to get you out.

    Hope your journey through this hideous process goes as smoothly as possible x
    drek, grumpydogwoman and peggylu like this.
  12. rooney1

    rooney1 Occasional commenter

    Please do pursue your union - and don't go to any meetings on your. Also forward any relevant emails to a personal email as you may find some disappear or you can't access them.
    Keep a log of everything that is said / done.
    Look after yourself.
    drek, png68 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  13. lardylegs

    lardylegs Occasional commenter

    Meh, I think don't give the ******* what they want. Cling on till the bitter end. If it gets too bad, see GP and get signed off till the end of the year. That's what everyone else seems to be doing!
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Please don't do what's suggested in #13.

    It may not seem like it but the school has tried to play nicely about this and allow you a dignified way out.

    You play hard-ball and they could get very difficult indeed. There's no way you can "win". Whatever the reason? Your face doesn't fit. That's all there is to it. Doesn't make you a bad teacher. We can have no idea how good you are. Schools can just take against someone for no obvious reason. This doesn't have to break you. School knows how it works. They're not bullying you. They're being reasonable about it. Certainly compared to lots of experiences on here!

    Chase up the union. It's annoying to have to do so but I'm pretty sure they're snowed under at the moment so you will have to be persistent. You can do this with union help. Make sure you get it!
    Laphroig and Piranha like this.
  15. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    It depends on the individual situation.

    If you're approaching retirement, lardy is right. If you teach a shortage subject, lardy is right. If you'll earn enough doing supply, lardy is right.

    Most other situations, grumpy is right.

    If you need another job, and having capability on your record will harm you (and schools aren't desperate for your subject) I wouldn't go down the sickness route. If you don't need another job, or your subject has a shortage so capability on your record won't matter as much, your options are wider.
    tenpast7 likes this.
  16. PeterQuint

    PeterQuint Lead commenter

    We have a teacher shortage. The government is desperate to attract teachers and keep old ones from leaving, spending huge sums on advertising and training.

    Subsequently the behaviour of your old school is a national disgrace. Let's just leave aside the personal damage to you at the moment. Just how much could thier inability to help and keep you potentially cost the country.

    SLTs need to remember, they're employed by the state, to fulfil a role for the stae, paid for by the state, using professionals trained by the state, who will cost the state a great deal of money if the state needs to replace them.

    The state should place the person responsible on capability and remove them from their role if they're insist on costing the state so much money.

    This is equally true whether you're a died-red Corbynista, or a true-blue tory. No one should be happy with this sort of unnecessary waste.
    TEA2111 likes this.
  17. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    @PeterQuint has a point about nearing retirement. Under those circumstances I'd hang on.

    Actually this whole capability business and the increasing prevalence of settlement agreements begs a question.

    It is this: if a school genuinely believes a teacher incompetent then it shouldn't be offering an agreement. It shouldn't just be shifting the "problem" elsewhere. That's not right.

    We feel pretty sure that capability is sometimes/often invoked against older and more expensive teachers to reduce the school's overheads. We hear a lot about school budgets. It's surely time to look at contracts and employment law and stop using capability for a purpose for which it was not designed i.e. intended to support (yes, I know you're laughing) and, if that doesn't work, ease out the failing teacher.

    I don't know what the answer is. If anyone suggested I take a pay cut as they couldn't afford me? How would I have reacted? But to put me on capability??? Isn't that worse?

    What's the answer, people?

    If someone really isn't suited to the job (not aiming this at the OP as it's something I've been pondering for a while) then they do need to be directed elsewhere. Maybe they'd be better with a different subject or age range. Maybe they just can't hack it. Full stop.

    But we need to stop capability when it's not a legitimate use thereof.
  18. davidmu

    davidmu Occasional commenter

    Clearly I know nothing of this particular case but it is really time that a union took a strong case to court. It is very obvious that CAPABILITY is being misused. It has not affected me but I am aware of similar cases. It really is time that a HT should be made to justify a decision to all and sundry.
  19. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I agree totally and heads ought to have the confidence and knowledge to try this. However many are young and don't have the experience of people to do anything except get rid of anyone they don't know how to handle.

    If someone isn't suited to a job, there are a great many other jobs they might be able to do. And to be frank it should be obvious to all very quickly, including the teacher concerned, and so the whole idea of targets and support is a nonsense. In my first year I started in a maths department with another NQT. It was obvious to all within a week or so that he didn't have a clue. A really lovely bloke, but utterly unsuited to teaching a class of secondary age children. He was hopeless at every single aspect. However, being a decent school, he was able to leave at half term with his dignity intact and a new job outside of teaching to go to. No amount of targets and/or support would have helped.

    In my case I'd spent a year getting nothing but praise and outstanding observations (including ofsted) in a new year group, while supporting staff in other year groups and an NQT in the partner class. Second year in the same year group, doing largely the same things, but with a new head, suddenly everything is deemed inadequate. Even if you are feeling generous and believe that the new head was trying to raise standards and thought that previous observation grades were inflated, targets aren't really going to help unless there is accompanying training. Even if he genuinely believed that "you might have been reasonably ok as a year 5 and 6 teacher but you are utterly useless in year 1." then surely moving me to year 5 and 6 would have been a sensible option?

    Capability doesn't seem to have any use at all as far as I can see. If someone is genuinely incapable, targets and support won't help. If they aren't actually incapable, then capability should be the last thing going on.
    TEA2111, drek, lizziescat and 3 others like this.
  20. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    But they can. My head had a whole folder full of 'evidence' of my being incapable.

    My learning environment was a disgrace (One afternoon he came in and there were pencil sharpenings on the floor around the bin. The class were year 1 and not quite able to manage sharpening into the bin yet!)
    Children had no idea what they were learning (they were asked by him in the corridor while collecting coats and bags to get ready for home time)
    Behaviour was out of control with children swearing at staff (One child, under an Ed Psych for behaviour and emotional problems, once left the classroom. I had no TA to sent for SLT to return the child to class. Child told the head to F*** Off and ran back to class, sat on the carpet to listen to the story. Head came in and tried to get the child to go with him, child flatly refused. I suggested to the child it would be a good idea to go with the head for a chat and child upped and went saying defiantly to the head "Only because Miss Butterfly says so. I'm not doing it for you.")

    However without the context of what actually happened there is the evidence there for anyone to see.
    Who would argue with a headteacher making such statements?
    Certainly not HR or the governing body, so probably not a court.
    TEA2111, youmakemesmile, drek and 7 others like this.

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