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Dear Clare - Will/can Governors support staff over the HT?

Discussion in 'Governors' started by wilbertwilliamson, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. Dear Clare,
    I am in a school where we have lost a number of good teachers and have many unhappy ones due to unfair (bullying) actions of the head. Life has been made very difficult for excellent teachers because they didn't share the same views of the HT and they have chosen to move on. Allegedly greivance procedures have been activated but the outcome's are always confidential. Is there a limit to how many times the actions of a head can be raised before the LA will do something other than a wrap on the knuckles which allegedly all this head gets. If a greivance is put to the head and chair of governors does it automatically get referred to the LA? I have a greivance and am unsure if I should persue it as I have been warned off, that nothing will change with the head and life will be made even more difficult for me. I understand that the LA work for the school an so at the end of the day if they are doing a good job which she is-the school has improved tremendously since they arrived and results have shot up, will the LA do anything. My greivance is that I was signed off as unfit to work due to a work related issue-the HT then wrote to my doctor and said I was avoiding doing my job and his support in not encouraging this behaviour would be appreciated. ie questioning the doctors professional diagnosos and asking him not to treat me. I have a copy of th eletter-how would a chair of Governors react to that please!
    Many thanks
  2. Yea I really am a teacher-just an unhappy dyslexic one.
    Thanks for your support.
  3. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    It depends what the Grievence Policy of your school says. If you complain to the Head about the Head you are unlikely to get far. If your complaint goes to the governors it will have to go through the grievence hearing and if necessary an appeal proceedure before there is any chance of it being referred to the LA.
    This behaviour is very unusual and obviously unprofessional and unacceptable. Have you thought about approaching the data protection registrar?
  4. This sounds to me like harassment rather than a data protection problem - certainly something to talk to your union rep about. If you are signed off work, your manager (in whatever job you do) shouldn't be badgering your doctor to change their recommendations.
  5. ******** up the quoting there - it should be obvious which text is me rather than harsh-but-fair.
  6. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Star commenter

    I agree, AJ - but I wonder how the HT got the OP's doctors details.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Presumably the doctor's name and address was on the medical certificate. OP doesn't say whether they had also signed a form authorising the their doctor to supply their medical details to the school - it's normal for employers to ask for this after an employee has been absent for a period of time.

    I think the HT was unwise to write what they wrote to the GP, but without knowing the full circumstances it's impossible to say whether OP has a grievance that would be upheld by the GB.

    OP - am I right to assume that your work-related condition is stress? Employers HR departments tend to have a low opinion of GP's diagnoses of stress so often ask for the employee to see a consultant. To put it bluntly they think that too often there are many GPs who will, if the employee says that have stress, simply repeat back on statutory sicknotes whatever the employee has told them. Not all GPs of course, but many. Stress diagnosis is a specialist field of medicine that most GPs don't specialise in and GPs don't always have the time to go into the matter throughly. It's therefore not surprising that employers will often ask an employee off with stress to go to a specialist consultant. A GP's sick note is not the be all and end all of a stress diagnosis. It's not only employers who take this view. For example, most Travel Insurance policies that cover you if you are too ill to travel will accept a GPs report as evidence in most cases but won't accept the GP for stress or depression, for which they require a report and diagnosis from a Consultant specialising in the field.

  8. My diagnosis was depression and anxiety. My doctor asked if he could write to the HT and explain that my situation was down to a work related matter that I had tried to resolve (I initially resigned because of it causing me so much anguish but withdrew it after we agreed a way forward-unfortunately that did not materialize). I persevered for a few weeks longer and then crashed; I was low enough to considered harming myself which is why the doctor wrote to the HT and said he was concerned about my mental health if the matter was not resolved. The HT replied in the above manner. As H-B-F has pointed out I have posted on other areas to get an idea if it is worth pursuing-most of the feedback is -don’t bother/wont get any where/will cause more stress- which is why I thought I would ask a governor before I made a decision. Basically what do HTs have to do before they are recognised as acting inappropriately to staff- I am now being blanked by HT since returning to work, making life very uncomfortable & miserable-I get the impression it is if you don’t like it -tough-get out and let them carry on with someone else.
  9. That's a little more complicated - if your doctor initiated a correspondence with the head teacher, you can hardly complain if the head writes back to your doctor. Your doctor doesn't know the full story of your work situation, only what he has heard from you, and the head is not competent to make a medical diagnosis. This is why occupational health departments exist (and it sounds as if you should ask to be referred to occupational health).

    What head teachers have to do to be recognised as acting inappropriately is firstly to do something that is contrary to the law or the school's policies, secondly to have a formal complaint made against them, and thirdly for that complaint to be upheld. Time and again we see people posting to this forum who seem to think they can jump from the first stage to the third without going through the second. Even if a head teacher is beating staff with a big stick, the governing body can't do much until one of the people being beaten is prepared to complain about it - and not complain in the sense of grumbling in the staff room or down the pub, but making a formal complaint through the correct channels.
  10. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    My response is the same as aj's. The circumstances of the HT writing to your GP are rather different to the impression I gained from your first post here. The correspondence was initiated by your GP with your agreement, and presumably the GP invited comment from your HT. This makes it much less likely that the governors would uphold a grievance against the HT based on the HT's letter to the GP. You'd probably have to show that head's letter wasn't a response any reasonable headteacher ('reasonable' in the restrictive legal sense) should have made or that it was maliciously motivated. You may have other grounds for a grievance but you'll struggle to succeed on the letter alone.
  11. Crowbob

    Crowbob Lead commenter

    Just to give a dose of realism (as I did elsewhere), even if your complaint is legitimate do not expect this to get better quickly. It is likely to get a whole lot more stressful and uncomfortable. Times where Heads are ousted are low and if you intend to keep working in the school it may get very hot for you. If you intend on working in a different school in the locality you may be identified as a troublemaker. This could be on an "informal" basis (Heads talk to other Heads) or you could be issued the blandest of references which often sets off warning signals.
    I am not saying "don't complain". Just be aware of the possible ramifications for your future. Your Union may be chomping at the bit on this, but it is not their career at stake.
  12. It's possible the union may not be chomping at the bit - union reps sometimes find themselves having to damp down members who want to complain to the Privy Council because their boss looked at them a bit funny. I agree with Crowbob - the head is not remotely likely to lose their job over this, so wilbertwilliamson needs to consider what are the realistic outcomes of the various alternatives.
  13. I should first clarify that it is the governing body which exercises employer responsibilities (and in the case of foundation and voluntary aided schools are the direct employer) so any decisions as to disciplinary action will be taken by the governing body, not the LA - although the LA in certain circumstances have the right to provide advice. Any staff related issue is confidential whether it is a pay issue, a discipline issue or a grievance, so I would not expect the outcomes of any grievance hearing to be made public. No, your grievance would not automatically get referred to the LA because they are not the responsible body for dealing with it, the governing body is.
    The school's grievance procedure should be freely available and will set out how you should lodge your complaint. In most cases where the grievance is against your headteacher then this will be the Chair of Governors. The Chair of Governors should deal with the complaint in accordance with the grievance procedure. The first stage may be for the Chair of Governors to deal with the matter, but if you are not satisfied with her/his findings then you can appeal and a panel of governors (who have had no involvement in the original decision) will hear your complaint.
    I would suggest as a member of staff that in the first instance you should approach your union rep about how to proceed - they will also have the right to attend any hearings with you.

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