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Dear Theo, Given a VERY bad reference

Discussion in 'Jobseekers' started by tryingtogetorganised, Oct 19, 2011.

  1. Dear Theo and all, HELP!!!
    I don't really know what to do. I've called ACAS who said it's a civil matter and of course, like a silly girl, I'm not in a union (Something about being too poor to afford the subs!!)
    I was only made aware of the bad ref when a supply agency called to say they couldn't employ me as my ref was 'insufficiant'. I then called the school where I'd had an interview the previous week who said they got the ref but put it to one side and made ther decision without it as they couldn't match it up with the person in interview (thankyou!). I then called my previous school and requested a copy of that ref.
    It came this morning and it is the most awful thing I've ever seen.
    It makes me look like I was hardly ever there, (2 days sick in 4 terms) didn't do any additional activities (ran drumming club and the school council - got awarded the Green Eco flag last term) was hated by all staff (been on the phone all the time over the summer) and the parents and pupils couldn't stand me (out with one family for the day in the hols, round anothers for tea, met up for breakfast with one of the mums last week and asked to do private tutoring for four of them). It says I wasn't interested in CPD (only went on 10 courses in 4 terms!) badly prepared lessons and presentation (regularly overheard - oooo, that's a bit fancy!) and so on an so forth.
    I was actively bullied by my head while I was there (and no, I didn't keep a record, more fool me) who regularly interupted my lessons for things she could have asked for earlier, undermined my authority at every turn (sending children back from her office because she didn't think I'd gone through the time out procedure first, aggressively questioning me in front of the children for things that I was in the right about and so on.) and she also made things up about stuff people had said. I only found this out because am an honest and upfront person and if I have upset anyone or behaved inappropriately, I say 'Sorry' at the first opportunity. I have been met with a lot of
    'what are you talking about? I never said anything like that!'
    She is now preventing me from getting work. Can I stop putting her as a reference? Can I put the retired deputy head instead? Can I, realistically, get something done? She has treated me appallingly and continues to behave in this manner to others - should I speak out to save other people going through it or keep my mouth shut and not rock the boat?
    HELP!!!
    Yours,
    A very confused and upset teacher.
     
  2. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Well, I've said it before, and I'll say it again.
    Everyone should be in a union.
    Too late for you now, I know.
    I am very surprised at this reference as schools are normally very careful about what they write, because they could be open to legal challenge. They may say things that are vague, or not bother to say much, or leave out the good things that you have done, but to actually state untruths, provable untruths, is pretty rare.
    Sometimes Home Insurance has an extra that pays for legal support in disputes over employment, but it may be limited to your current employer. But get out the policy anyway and have a look. You might be lucky, and are able to see a lawyer to get advice for free.
    If you cannot afford legal advice, then really I don't know what to say. I could not possibly give you any legal advice here, and shall not do so.
    I suppose that the sort of thing that a lawyer might say, would be for you to write a letter to the school challenging the points, with your evidence as above, saying that you would not wish to have to take this issue to court, but are seriously concerned that your employment chances are being undermined by this reference which would seem to be inaccurate and possibly defamatory. The lawyer might then propose that you added that you would wish to settle this matter amicably, and therefore would like to hear what they suggest. This would put the onus on them to respond to you, hopefully with a statement that this reference will not be sent out again.
    That's the sort of thing I guess that a lawyer might propose that you do; but I am no lawyer and my best advice to you can only be that you should consult a lawyer for really effective action.
    And get yourself in a Union pronto before you start your next job!
    Best wishes
    ___________________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    www.tes.co.uk/careerseminars
    I am timetabled for the October 22nd Win that teaching job seminars - see you there!
     
  3. Thanks Theo, I've spent the day on the phone to various teacher helplines, at the CAB office and have been assured I am entitled to legal aid as I have no income and cannot work due to a awful reference. (It's so bad - I'm beside myself at how untrue and appallling it is!) I've an appointment booked and have been adviced to write a letter setting out my points of dispute, citing the type of evidence I have to support my side of the story. (Fortunately I've loads of things as I had excellent relationships with the pupils, parents and other staff!)
    Thanks for replying, will join the union asap!
     
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    I'm pleased to hear that! Have been doing a bit of reserach for you:
    Negligence
    Obligation:
    An employer owes a duty of care to both the employee and the recipient for the content of a reference. The employer must provide a true, accurate and fair reference.
    Rights:
    If an employer fails to take care in providing a reference, the employee or the recipient may be able to bring a claim in negligence for any damage suffered as a result.
    To bring such a claim an employee will have to show that the reference is misleading, is likely to have an affect on a reasonable recipient and that the employer was negligent in providing it.
    If an employer fails to provide a fair and reasonable reference during employment, the employee can resign and claim constructive dismissal.
    Libel
    Obligation:
    An employer must only give information that it believes to be correct and this must be provided without malice.
    Rights:
    If incorrect information is given with malice, an employee may be able to bring a claim for libel against the provider of the reference.
    ___________________________________________
    TheoGriff. Member of the TES Careers Advice Service.
    I do Application and Interview one-to-ones, and also contribute to the Job Application Seminars. We look at application letters, executive summaries and interviews, with practical exercises that people really appreciate.
    www.tes.co.uk/careerseminars
    I am timetabled for the October 22nd Win that teaching job seminars - see you there!
     
  5. Thankyou Theo, you've echoed what everyone else said yesterday. I went to the CAB who made me an appointment with a solicitor but... (You may think me absurd!) I'm not going to challenge it. I am very good friends 2 of the govenors (parent and ex-staff) and am going to put them as my other refs. The one from the head teacher is so awful that it doesn't make me look bad, it makes her look bad :) Any employer who has a bit of sense that I'd work well with will see it for what it is and discount it. (A big bit of trusting God here!!)
    Many thanks for your encouragement and advice
    From
    A calm and purposful jobseeker.
     

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