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Desperate for some guidance/support

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by clementinesandbrazilnuts, Dec 31, 2011.

  1. Hi,
    I began a new role in september in middle management in a school that is in notice to improve. On the penultimate day of term my headteacher asked me to attend a meeting (with about twenty minutes notice) and informed me she wasn't happy with my work and would be starting informal capability procedings.
    To say this was a shock is just an understatement and I was (and still am) absolutely devestated. I have contacted my union but haven't heard back from them due to the christmas holiday, I tried to ring my regional office on Tuesday but the recorded message said they would open on tuesday january 3rd - which is when I'm due back at school.
    I am desperate for help and advice as I feel very alone. I've had time to reflect over the holidays, as you can imagine it's not been a very restful break and I was very unwell for the first week as well. I have decided I don't have a long term future at the school. I don't like it, didn't even before this news was given to me, but now I feel sick and so, so scared. I have a mortgage - I obviously need an income. The time of year couldn't be worse as there aren't any jobs. I have emailed one school regarding an advert, but it's a good hour and a half away according to routefinder. I'm not a lazy person but I'm very worried about such a long commute and worry about petrol money and car costs as well. However, I may not have a choice if things continue to get worse.
    My ideal situation would be to leave in september with another job to go to but can I drag the process out for that long? I don't want a gap on my CV. I realise in theory I could leave at easter but barely any jobs are advertised to begin at that time of year (although I'd go for one if one came up of course.)
    I am just desperate for some advice, reassurance and pointers. I don't feel the capability is at all justified which isn't to say I'm brilliant, I'd happily take advice and support to improve as I genuinely want/wanted to do a good job, for myself and for the children but this hasn't been conducive. I've been trying to do work but have felt so stressed and anxious that every time I've sat at my laptop I've ended up crying and feeling sick. I know that sounds as if I'm making excuses but the only way I've been able to sleep or relax is by blanking out work completely.
    Anyway to condense my post - what I want to know is, can I leave in august with perhaps an agreed and fair reference, if I agree to leave at the end of the year can they stop capability procedings? I've never been so stressed in my life.
    Thank you.
  2. Dear Clementine, this meeting must have come out of no where for you. From reading your post you are really stressed out and as you have not been able to communicate yet with your union I would advise going to see your doctor asap. If you are like this next week to start work, then in my opinion you are not fit to work. There are more experienced people on here who can give you better advice but please go and see your doctor for the time being. Take care.
  3. Thank you for your kind reply sophie.
    I'm very frightened about the potential ramifications of taking time off. I've never been off with stress before and I'm scared the school might push me towards formal capability or try to dismiss me on health grounds. I also know if I stay away things will get worse as there is a lot of work to do and OFSTED is iminent.
  4. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    This must have been a terrible experience for you. I'm pretty sure that the Head has not followed proper procedures here. You should have been given proper notice of this meeting, the concerns should have been made clear and you should have been given the opportunity to have a friend or union rep present. You should also I think have been given a copy of the school's capability procedures and support for you should have been discussed. This all seems wrong to me on all sorts of levels.

    Don't agree to anything or enter into any negotiations of any kind without union support at regional level. I'm angry on your behalf that the Head sprang this on you so quickly almost at the end of term when it was obvious you'd be upset during the holidays and unable to make contact with your union.
    Sadly it sounds as though your Head wants you out and is determined to make things unpleasant. Does the school have a budgetproblem and do you think the HT is trying to get rid of an expensive staff member?
    No it doesn't. Your reaction is absolutely understandable.

    Don't have any further meetings with the HT without your union rep present.

  5. Ilovesooty, thank you for such a kind reply. I was half expecting people to say I must have done a really awful job to be put on informal capability when I haven't even completed a term yet! I've questioned that time and time again myself, I do think I'm a very reflective person and I will admit to my faults but because of this I maybe sometimes take the blame for things that aren't wholly my fault, or that other people bear some responsibility for as well.
    I've tried and tried to think if there's any real justification for this. I think because we're in notice to improve the head and slt are under a lot of pressure from the LEA. We had an inspection from them just after october half term, which didn't go well for the school as a whole. I was observed three times, one of these was inadequate which hasn't happened to me before and I was upset about but I just got so nervous that the lesson I'd planned didn't quite take off in the way I'd hoped. I asked if I could please be re-observed since I felt that it hadn't gone well and it was and this time I was given satisfactory with good features.
    I did act on things the LEA said weren't very good or should be changed but it's been very hard due to having no department time at all in which to do things. My classroom management was really heavily criticised. I admit I have struggled with two bottom sets but then in my defence I really have a horrible timetable, which I wasn't even given until two days before starting!
    I just don't know why my head wants me out, I must have done a really awful job I suppose but in that case I can't understand why no one raised concerns earlier.
    I know procedure hasn't been followed (it never is at our place really) but will that actually make any difference when it comes to it? I have to attend a meeting with someone from the LEA, the HT and myself after the holiday, for informal capability it seems really formal. I'm just desperate to get out of there, but while on the one hand I just want to hand in my notice and crawl under a rock for a few months I know that isn't practical and I have to try and sort this but it's hard when I just want to cry when I think about returning. I want to be reasonable but I don't think I am dealing with reasonable people and that really frightens me.
    Thank you again for replying, I really appreciate it.
  6. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    It doesn't sound as though you have. It sounds to me as though you're in a school with poor leadership, no real vision and inadequate behavioural management systems. And I know from bitter experience how awful it is to take your first middle management role in a place like that.
    A decent regional union rep will have them for breakfast.
    I'd advise you to email your HT when you return and make it clear you will attend no such meeting without your regional rep. And send all copies of emails to your home email address for back up in case your email account at school *crashes*. Lastly, however low you feel, don't discuss this with anyone at school. Trust no one, however *concerned* they appear to be.

  7. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    That was so mean and inappropriate of your head. Don't attend that meeting without someone from regional there. Before the meeting look at exit strategies so that you don't go to formal capability. It might be a good idea to ring teacher support line and have a good cry x
  8. Thank you again for being so very kind and taking the time to reply to me on NYE.
    Do you really think so? There are some things that are unbelieveable, I don't want to put them on here as I'm worried about being identified but I wish I'd contacted my union earlier about things I know weren't right but I didn't want to be thought of as a troublemaker.
    It's just so brutal for want of a better word, if they actually wanted to support me they could have done that and I would have been so eager to please, I am wondering if the pressure is actually coming from the LEA. I just honestly can't begin to get my head around it all.
    One huge problem has been gossip and things being mis communicated. I can't bear that. I've already had somebody tell stories about me and I can't understand why, I am not a nasty person or an overbearing unpleasant one. Why would someone want to make my life miserable?
  9. Thank you, I am sorry I didn't see your post in between replying.
    It's exit strategies I really want to think about. I'm frightened though that they might push me to leave at easter, when I don't think I'd be able to get another job then. If I'm going to leave which believe me I desperately want to I want to leave in the summer really. Would this be able to be negotiated do you know?
    I just do want to cry, I can't talk to anybody about this. My old dog died, my best friend is undergoing a kidney transplant and my poor dad broke his shoulder. Sorry this has absolutely nothing to do with workplace dilemas does it! I did get really unwell after half term, I completely lost my voice and it left me with this barking cough which left me exhausted and tired. Again, I know that sounds a bit feeble as it was only a cough but I have never had a cough like it before, I used to end up vomiting from coughing so violenty and exhausted from my coughing fits. People at work were predictably supportive telling me to sit elsewhere! I should have gone to the doctor but kept thinking it would just go, I finally went this holiday and it does at least seem to be on its way out.
    I can't believe this has happened to me. I can't make sense of people who want to make other people stressed, upset and miserable. Why would you want to do that?
  10. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    Not a problem! I'm not going anywhere.
    I'd start making a record now of everything you can remember, with dates. You're wise not to post too much on here.
    Yes: and I suspect the bullies know that. This is chillingly like what happened to me and I felt just as bemused and devastated as you.
    Yes, been there too... [​IMG]
    You're nice and decent by the sound of it. There are some utter s hits in the workplace - no other way of putting it.

    Feel free to PM me if you'd like to.

  11. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Please give teacher support line a call. Talking to a real person will help. Accept that some people are mean and that it is not a reflection on you. It sounds like leaving that place sooner rather than later is a good thing. You can always do supply or personal tutoring. Knowing you have a plan to leave will help you to cope better. Don't let anyone at work know how you feel. Your union will help as well.
  12. Thank you Torey. The problem is, I am single and can't therefore rely on a partner's income. I need a permanent post long term for my mortgage and other committments. I'm sick with worry about where this will all lead. I can hang on until the summer but given the speed at which this is all happening I'm not hopeful. I live in a rural area where there isn't an awful lot of supply.
  13. jellycowfish

    jellycowfish Occasional commenter

    I feel so much for you in this horrible situation. I was in a simialr position, put on Informal Capability with no warning. My school didn't (and still don't) follow procedure, and the LEA didn't bat an eyelid, even when the Regional rep banged on about it for months.
    You are in no fit state to make a decision - you will end up having a break down and being no good to anyone. Go to the drs and get a sick note for at least a month - that will give you plenty of time to talk to the Union, and will give you a chance to feel you're making some progress. Never mind OFSTED, you'll do yourself no favours pushing yourself into that.
    In my experience, informal capability was only part of the plan to get rid of me, so even if you try and jump through their hoops, it will carry on. You can discuss your options with a rep, and make a more informed decision.
    Good luck. Try and get yourself referred to OH - they really helped me and were on my side, rather than the school's. They have your interests at heart, not your HT's.
  14. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    The fact that your school requires a notice to improve did not come out of the blue. It was led into that sorry state by a head and senior managers, while the governing body sat idly by. If it is the same head who did that, then he/she is not fit to sit in judgement of anyone - good or bad - until the school is out of the notice.
    This head is clearly out of his or her depth, and the first refuge of the inadequate is to blame someone else. He/She should be having a bad time, not you. Your head is a bully - plain and simple.
    I agree with other posters. Do not under any circumstances go into any meeting with this individiual without your union rep present, and do not trust any other member of the senior management shower, especially the one who acts as your link.
    If another job does come up, go for it, and if you're able to leave before the end of a period of notice, do so. You owe these cowards nothing.
  15. I think getting a sick note would make things worse. I really would fall terribly behind with work and it would make the school less likely to cooperate with me I feel. Going off sick would be an absolute last resort, I've never been off with stress before and have never had longer than two weeks away from school, with glandular fever. Staying away for a month is just unthinkable just now.
    I feel as if my career is over.
  16. please note i have sent you private message with strategy for you-dont let the treatment you have received effect your health
    your teaching in england? you are covered by burgundy book rules re absence pay
    speak to your union 3 1 12.take time off if you are unwell.your health is more important than anything
    get union to put you through to caseworker not local rep.caseworkers are on the ball.
    sorry to be blunt but,the procedure they are instigating is designed to prove you are unable to do your job,you must fight back
    dont let it get to the stage where they are deliberating in this way on your future-use every available exit strategy,i personally would rather resign than be party to a procedure like this
    contact me off forum via pm
    stay strong- do not enter any future meetings without your caseworker present not just your school rep

  17. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    There isn't much I can add just to send my consolations and support.
    You have a very strong case. Your performance should have been monitored as part of your induction to a new school and you should have had feedback before now. You should not have been put in this position just before the school holidays. That is really bad practice and it is bullying.
    Your workplace induction procedures have failed. Your Regional Rep will wipe the floor with them.
    But in the circumstances you are going to find it hard to get back into work. This is quite understandable. It is not the end of the world to go on sick leave. Plenty of teachers go on sick when this kind of thing happens and then hand in their notice. They do find other jobs. There are ways and means of recreating yourself and you should not give up - this is a glitch and you will weather it. Don't feel you have no options. You have plenty.
    Your mortgage could be reduced if you are without pay for a little while. You need to talk to your mortgagers about this. You pay what you can. And that is the worst case scenario.
    You don't have to stay in this post. You can, but go back with the union rep and a hard hard face on you and just tootle until the end of the year. You could do that. Or you could leave - hand in your notice and be gone by Easter.
    You tell your next employer that personal problems came up and you have to be a carer or something - or that you were unwell and so on.
    It really is not the end. There are good schools out there, and good management teams. And life is too short to be bullied.
    You can get the Regional rep to ring you the morning of the start of term. Get them to ring the school office as well. Do it all by the book. But don't take it personally. Make sure you get a good reference out of the swine.
  18. Thank you so much Nelly. A couple of messages although kindly meant have got me so stressed and anxious. My mortgage is nearly a thousand pounds a month (and reducing it isn't an option) - I obviously can't just be without an income for whatever reason.
    I know going off sick isn't the end of the world and I would do so as an absolute last resort but it just isn't me, I would fret and become extremely anxious at home, I'd only be able to relax if I knew I had another job to go to.
    I desperately hope my union rep can help and support me, there have been a few things which I don't think should have happened. What haunts me is I think the LEA might be behind it.
  19. NellyFUF

    NellyFUF Lead commenter

    I have been LEA'd.
    But I am so furious on your behalf. You went to this school with good references in September and in a few months they have reduced you to needing procedures. And you have been ill with that dreadful debilititating cough. It is scandalous. Clearly it is the management of the school that is the problem. Now they add bullying to their incompetence. Don't let them win. Ooo I am so cross.
    Rent out a room in your house? Rent it out totally and go live with your auntie?

  20. Short term solutions might work, long term though I do have to think about my career. I will need SOME form of a teaching job by september at the very latest it seems.
    Can I ask you what you mean when you say you've been lea'd - please pm me if you would rather not say here.
    It's just awful, I'm so miserable.

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