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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by LittleBrownBear, Nov 14, 2019.

  1. LittleBrownBear

    LittleBrownBear New commenter

    Moved to a new school in Sept (and bought a house!) but things are not jelling at all. I have lost all faith in my ability and feel like a round peg in a square hole.

    I am expected to mark 150 boks a night as well as 3 evenings a week being taken up withn meetings etc. I then obviously plan.

    I just can't keep up so just been informed I have a week to sort everything out or face capability.

    I am so upset and just don't know what to do. Fight or flight?

  2. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    They are putting you on capability after half a term due to unreasonable demands?

    Union. Agreed reference. Go.
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    As @CWadd says get out asap. You may have to have a dodgy couple of months doing supply, but if they don't like you and you don't like them...

    If they really don't like you, they may let you go at the end of December regardless of contract stuff. Union to negotiate a bland but non destructive reference would be helpful.
    agathamorse and CWadd like this.
  4. Corvuscorax

    Corvuscorax Star commenter

    which is always what happens when decent honest teachers are abused. They immediately assume that its them in the wrong

    This, and don't for one moment think you are the one at fault.

    It may very well be an empty threat anyway, just a way of trying to wring out another final drop of blood from you.
  5. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Have you considered alternative strategies?


    1. Self-marking
    Whenever possible, give children the answers to mark their own work. Train them from an early age. Either put the answers at the front to check, give them a calculator when they have finished or give them the answers at the end. This also helps their self-reflection as it is instant feedback allowing them to consider if they understood the concept or not as soon as they know if the answers are correct.

    2. Student marker
    You could also ask a pupil who is a fast finisher to go round the classroom marking for you or if you’d rather, rotate a number of children to do this with your answers so that one is not singled out as being ‘better’.

    3. Colour-coded success criteria
    Training children to underline their own work when they have met the success criteria allows them to see what they were missing during the lesson and also enabled me to simply write What Went Well (WWW) next to the most successful one and Even Better If (EBI) next to the least successful one. Simple. We are facilitators after all, hence the fact children should be doing most of the work.

    4. Self/peer-reflection
    There is nothing I like more than simply writing ‘I agree’ or ‘great SA’ (self-assessment) after the child’s comments when they have evaluated thoughtfully. Plan in time for evaluations as plenaries and use mixed ability ‘reflection partners’ to make it more effective. For SEND or younger children, give them a bank of statements to choose from or simply ask them to traffic light their learning objective.

    5. Traffic lighting
    If you want a speedy way of marking you could suggest traffic lighting objectives to your SLT. I’ve seen this used in several schools I have been working in recently. Staff simply look at the work after the lesson and traffic light the objective in red, orange or green depending on how well the person has shown they have met the objective. It is literally just one dot of colour in the margin next to the objective. The teacher may or may not comment and there is no expectation for the teacher to make a comment.

    6. Live marking
    This, in theory is great, and is much discussed on Teacher Toolkit. The idea being that all the marking is done in the lesson thus allowing you to not mark after school. Unfortunately, in a challenging class with no TA, there is more crowd control than live marking going on. As a result, a technique is employed which I affectionately named ‘dead marking’ which is marking at home whilst pretending it was done in class because someone has suggested your live marked books don’t have enough comments in them. Farcical. However, the live marking concept is useful and if you have a lanyard or top pocket, always attach a pen to yourself. Adults should ALWAYS walk around the class with the correct colour pen to get as much as possible done on the go. When it works well, it saves time and provides instant and personal feedback. Furthermore, your Teaching Assistant may also be able to get some done for you.

    7. A few at a time
    On those frequent occasions when I take 60 books home at the weekend, I have discovered, in order to fit around family life, that it is less depressing to mark 3-5 at a time. My marking can go down-hill slightly once I’ve got to the bottom of the pile of books (and bottle of wine). Doing a few at a time stops this from happening and means I don’t leave them all to 9pm on Sunday.

    8. Open on the page
    Always train children to leave books open on the page. I think this saves at least 7 minutes of searching for their work when you have 30 to do.

    9. Go to the books
    My books used to be kept on my tables so the students could access them quickly. I then used to collect them in to mark and then waste another 10 minutes working out which table they needed to go back on. It dawned on me one day that I could simply move tables when marking. Considering I must be a reasonably intelligent person in order to be a teacher, it was unclear why I didn’t work this out sooner!

    10. Class marking sheet
    A much more effective marking method is to introduce a class marking sheet for writing. Children can write CMS (class marking sheet) in the margin to indicate there is not individual marking for this piece. The teacher looks over the work during the lesson and after and fills in 1 sheet which has headings such as ‘special mentions’, ‘common misconceptions’, ‘spelling errors’, ‘best presentation’ etc. this is then used to start the next lesson. Children were very keen to be mentioned on the sheet and it is also a tool to engage reluctant writers.

    11. Test papers
    Mark a double page at a time for all the papers so the answers are in your head. This means you can think less and possibly even watch Netflix at the same time.

    12. Attempt a bit of marking in class
    Shocking I know. How can anyone be an effective teacher if they are using afternoon lesson time to do a bit of marking?? Don’t panic. I believe I have now perfected the technique. It is of course task dependent and would not work in the middle of a science lesson for example, or if you have one of those classes who take no prisoners by 2pm. When my class were all engaged in a draw and write or research type activity, I have on occasions taken the opportunity to be time efficient. There are 2 ways to do this; the right way and the wrong way. What you shouldn’t do is sit at your desk with a pile of books with one eye on the door in case anyone walks in and catches you, whilst you feel guilty for marking not engaging with your class. What you should do is take one group’s books at a time, sit on their table and monitor their work while you are marking their books, addressing misconceptions and giving praise as you go. Change tables when you’ve done your books and get another set. This allows you to have contact with every child in the class during the afternoon as well as doing a bit of marking with feedback. I should add that in reality, especially with younger children, you’d only get 5 books done in total, as 15 children would need a piece of you at some point (but 5 is better than 0!).

    13. Enlist a marking friend
    If you are in one of those schools who thinks that the pig will get fatter if you weigh it a lot (i.e. tests every 6 weeks), you may feel overwhelmed with the amount of tests you need to mark. Find a colleague to help with the work. Order the papers from worst to best and level them together. That way you share accountability for what was agreed, you are engaging in professional dialogue about writing and you are having a good laugh about that child’s spelling of can’t.
  6. DexterDexter

    DexterDexter Occasional commenter

    I suspect that you have been given your marking “guidelines” as a “non-negotiable”.

    Read through your appraisal policy, you can’t just jump to capability! You need to have a formal meeting within 5 days if having a letter inviting you and a representative (union) to discuss your progress/abilities. This should result in an action plan (technically, they could say you don’t need to be on a plan at this meeting but they will already have decided you do).
    Then, when you have worked through that, you get to go on a capability plan.

    Probably best you make your escape plans, it sounds a horrible place.
    sbkrobson, agathamorse and phlogiston like this.
  7. lrw22

    lrw22 Senior commenter

    Are other colleagues under the same pressure? It sounds entirely unreasonable and too much for anyone to deal with. Contact your union.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. MrK1357

    MrK1357 New commenter

    The school must provide a support plan before capability. A support plan should be long enough to see improvement and progress. A week is not long enough.

    Get your union involved. Speak to friends and old colleagues for support.
    agathamorse and sbkrobson like this.
  9. Pomza

    Pomza Star commenter

    ludicrous waste of everybody’s time. Leave for a different school ASAP.
    agathamorse likes this.
  10. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    Argue against the capability. Involve your union. You might be able to get out with a Settlement Agreement negotiated with your union before it reaches formal, which means you don’t have that on your record and money to give you time to find a more sympathetic working environment.
    tenpast7 and agathamorse like this.
  11. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I recall you posting about taking time off for stress, so if on you return if you even hear the word Capability mentioned, your union will put themselves immediately on the starting blocks.
    Lets assume your practice is deficient in terms of meeting the standards your school enlists you with. Even then, you've only been there five minutes, so what records do they hold of you under performing? How do they relate to your pm targets? What procedures have they already put in place to support you? And how have they responded to your medical needs having returned from a bout of absence? How did they support you when that student showed up at your house? Have they presented you with their policy together with timescales leading Capability? Have they put you on a support plan in order to avoid it? Have they advised you of the meaning of Capability?
    All of these points are of interest to your union.

    @nomad none of the pragmatic advice you supply to make the marking easier can serve to mitigate any of the above. It's stuff OP can use in any school to improve practice , but it's not stuff which is going to rectify the damage of lamentable timescales and threats in this scenario

    OP It is clear from your post (s) that you are a worrier, which makes you very vulnerable to their ultimatums. You are going to have to give yourself a talking to, and repeatedly, during this process-they are in the wrong. Get union support and focus on the one result which enables you to best sustain your home even if it involves changing your workplace.
    Last edited: Nov 15, 2019
  12. DexterDexter

    DexterDexter Occasional commenter

    If it’s like the places I’ve worked, they will all have been set these standards but no-one will be able to achieve them. Then you can choose who you want to prove is “not following school policy and procedures” or who has “fallen below the school’s professional standards”.
  13. LittleBrownBear

    LittleBrownBear New commenter

    Thank you all. Yes I am a worrier.....i am a single person household with a mortgage and no savings ....

    I am doing my best to meet the deadline but I feel like I am being thrown evertything to make me fail It's now 'obs week'. No notice obs by HT & SLT. Data in so need to bring reading, writing, Maths books to prove judgements.
    Team meeting -bring 5 books for scrutiny (topic).

    SLT have been in every lesson so far this week.....

    I have this week to get it all done but have meetings every night til 5pm.

    It is hopeless. Intend to leave asap...applied for jobs at the weekend. Told line manager...reply 'awwww'. Said i worked all weekend....told it saves money.

    I give up!
    annascience2012 and agathamorse like this.
  14. DexterDexter

    DexterDexter Occasional commenter

    You might be a worrier, but just remember that it’s not your fault. Hope you get something better soon
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Nice though this might be, I can find nothing official which says so. A week (five working days) notice should be given of a formal meeting; I doubt if what the OP has been told counts as this. Here is a link to official guidelines. I hope this does not got to formal capability, but the OP needs to be prepared just in case. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/teacher-appraisal-and-capability-model-policy
    agathamorse likes this.
  16. SundaeTrifle

    SundaeTrifle Occasional commenter

    Yikes, that’s intimidating! Downright heavy-handed pressuring. I really feel for you.
    Dorsetdreams and agathamorse like this.
  17. tenpast7

    tenpast7 Occasional commenter

    This really shows what an awful place Education is in now. Such inhumane treatment of people, makes me want to vomit.
    I see it as bullying and know that it can break a person by putting them under such intense stress. It seems to me that it goes against basic human rights and ignores the Duty of Care that the "victim" is entitled to.
  18. LittleBrownBear

    LittleBrownBear New commenter

    Firstly, thank you for all your supportive comments-really means a lot.

    Update-i worked 90 hrs last week, dealt with observations, book looks, walk ins etc.Did they check my books-no.

    Had a chat with HT today initially with lesson obs (actually ok!). Then the 'how are things' chat. Then the 'are you in the right school' comment was made. It us apparently an expectation that new staff struggle but after 9 wks i am still not getting the basics right. The teacher they saw at interview is not the teacher they see now and they can't see me getting out of the slippery mud pit i am in. It was suggested that i should return to Secondary.
    Need to think what i want to do by Friday-fight or flight?
    I just don't get how I can be so different in another school. I work til 11 every night yet I am still behind. The workload is crazy. I feel like I have let everyone down.
    I need to work as I live on my own and have a mortgage but I am now petrified i will be out of a job and therefore homeless as I have no savings.
    I just don't know whether to go back to secondary or quit teaching all together. What I would do, I have no idea!!

    Life throws you curve balls at times.
  19. tugrin

    tugrin New commenter

    If you decide to leave, immediately apply to Randstad for supply work - or any other agency near you. Schools are falling apart and they need supply teachers to plug the gaps they are inflicting in themselves by treating their permanent staff the way they are treating you
  20. cornflake

    cornflake Senior commenter

    Have you got a copy of the school appraisal policy? And the Managing Performance Policy? Get that and read them.
    Try and be objective - do you think you are performing less well than in your previous school - or is it just the context/SLT making you believe this is the case?
    Have you been told, clearly, what the issues are and what support is going to be put in place to help you address these things?
    Have you chatted to your GP about your working hours and the affect it is inevitably having on your health? Even if they can't do anything, I have learnt it is useful to have a medical marker.
    Put something in writing about your workload and ask for support to reduce this, invoking duty of care. This is important too, as later down the line, you may need to demonstrate that you made those "above you" aware of the issues in a formal sense.
    Am I right in thinking you were secondary and are now primary? Have you had support to manage the transition - as yes, marking that many books a day is not unusual but you may be marking everything in depth when you don't need to, and when some could wait til another time.
    Does your school provide counselling support? You need someone to talk this through with.
    DO NOT RESIGN (yet).

    I know this is a really scary place - I'm sort of in it too. But there are many jobs advertised for a January start for class teachers, so not all is lost. There will always be maternity contracts, as well as day-to-day supply. It's not great, I get that totally - but I am learning that there are options.

    Take care of yourself - working more doesn't mean you are working better. Take the night off.
    agathamorse likes this.

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