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Dear James/all - Raging over Reference!!

Discussion in 'New teachers' started by anon261, Jan 16, 2011.

  1. Hi there,

    I know exactly how you feel. I had a very similar problem where I was in a school as an NQT but not on induction (covering PPA and Supply). My teaching was never observed but the reference I got was terrible. I managed to get a job doing something else for a while so they were no longer my last employer and i'm back to using my uni ref now - along with my last employer!
    I would request it from the supply agencies.
    Good luck
     
  2. How awful! You can request to see the reference - part of the Data Protection Act. I know it's illegal to give a bad reference in the private sector so it ought to be same in the public as far as I know. Good luck!
     
  3. Poppy_Red

    Poppy_Red New commenter

    Hi Helen,
    Is there someone sympathetic at the school who you could approach to write you an alternative reference? A similar thing happened to me, only worse - I passed the term, was never told of any problems, but I had a small disagreement with the head teacher, who wrote me an AWFUL reference. In it she said a lot of things that were untrue - or at least if they were true, this was the first I had heard of it! E.g. she wrote that there had been several complaints from different staff about the quality of my teaching and planning, that I had not contributed to the life of the school in any way (I had run two after school clubs!) and finally that she wouldnt employ me again.

    Luckily, my mentor, who was the Deputy Head was sympathetic and agreed to act as a referee - so I was still using my last school, but not that unprofessional so called 'headteacher'.

    People will say that it is illegal to write a bad reference - but in reality what is to stop them?? Yeah I could have challenged it, but once a horrible reference like that has been read, it cant be unread.
     
  4. GloriaSunshine

    GloriaSunshine New commenter

    I might be wrong but I thought that you couldn't see a reference received by someone and that you could only see it by approaching the person who wrote it. No matter, if the head has written an honest reference that puts potential employers off, you will have to work round it. I have worked with NQTs (and others!) whose classroom management was so poor, it wouldn't have been possible to write a reference recommending them to an agency - is it possible that the head may feel this way? If not, you could see the reference but couldn't demand that it was changed unless it was inaccurate or unfair. Consider also whether the reference may be so bland that the agencies have phoned the school and got a verbal reference.
    Could you get back into schools doing some voluntary work in your PGCE schools? This may be a way back in and a way of getting a 'new' referee.
     
  5. trinity0097

    trinity0097 New commenter

    There is no such law that says that you can't write a bad reference, as long as it is factual. So saying something like 'in all her 3 observations X was graded unsatisfactory and no improvements in her behaviour management were seen' is fine as it's factual.
     
  6. You beat me to it! A reference has to be accurate and factual. If you had poor behaviour management then the referee couldn't start writing about how wonderful your behaviour management was.
     
  7. Hi
    You are able to ask to see the reference and you can challenge any factual errors. It is possible for a poor reference to be written provided it is factually correct and the head has evidence to support any negative comments.
    As this was a maternity cover, early release may not have been the best thing. Did you contact your union and ask for their help and advice? In cases such as this a negotiated early release will also often include a negotiated reference that is to the satisfaction of the head and you as the employee - they cab be bland and just list your starting dates, durties and will make no judgement on ability. Even with this some heads read between the lines.
    Contact your union for help and advice on how to seek a copy of your reference, when you get the copy check it for factual accuracy. You may also wish to show it to thye agencies that rejected you to check that it is indeed the same reference.
    Other than that you may need to seek references from another member of staff at the school or explain in your letter that due to poor relkationships you are not offereing a reference from that particular headteacher.
    James
     
  8. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    This is similar to what I had when i left my first induction post, the reference from that school wasn't a very good one (it had caused one agency not to take me on). However with the one that did take me on I provided as many other alternative references as i could, about 4 in total (including the old school one), so dispite having that one that wasn't very good my agency had a number of good ones about me from tutors and the like. So it can be done :)
     
  9. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    The person who wrote the reference is not obliged to show it to you, but the person who requested is - though they must delete certain sections of it, so they're not legally obliged to show you the whole thing. The agencies who say they cannot show itto you are therefore incorrect, but they must take care about what they do show you.
    As others have stated, the obligation on the part of the referee is to ensure that the reference is factually accurate and this should be 'to the best of their knowledge'.
     
  10. Hi Helen,

    I have had a virtually identical experience to you after resigning from a part-time maternity cover starting September last year. My union has been advising me and I am currently trying to negotiate an improved reference from the school - I have also been turned down by an agency because of the reference. I am now asking my college if I can have another mini 'placement' to brush up my BM skills and rebuild my confidence. Best of luck, and do feel free to contact me directly if you'd like to compare notes.
     

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