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Employment Barrister urgently needed

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by papakura, May 17, 2017.

  1. papakura

    papakura New commenter

    Dear All

    I have been a teacher since 1992 and rapidly moved up to UPS3 after the threshold payments came in many years ago.

    I jumped ship from the state sector into the Private Sector in September 2014. 2 years teaching prep school maths and I was then asked to apply for an ICT post by the Headteacher at a very well known Independent Senior School.

    Suffice it to say I was asked to resign at the end of one term. It was quite brutal actually but I will not go into that. There followed a really bad reference that I have seen and has been the main obstacle in the way of me getting work. I have not worked in over 5 months and have been trying to get the school to address the issue with the reference. I have very good testimonials from previous teaching posts but they are of no use as applying for new posts always requires the referee from your most recent post.

    The situation is quite scandalous in my opinion and 10 weeks ago I portrayed the way I had been treated in a grievance report which was submitted to the Chair of Governors and HR department. The school has not responded to it.

    In an ideal world I would actually like to air this in public - a good investigative journalist would be fascinated by the workings of this school, especially if it is representative of the independent sector at large. However, I have to be pragmatic and what I need is a barrister who specialises in helping teachers to fight against this kind of abuse.

    I should say now that I have been on the usual merry-go-round. ACAS, MP, DfE, ISI etc have all been contacted but as some of you might know these people are virtually impotent against a school's impermeable barricade; a school seems to be a self governing entity and any grievance is contractual between the school and employee. So the DfE, Ofsted, Exam Boards etc just stand back and let the teacher sink or swim. ACAS advised to contact local solicitors but they all have conflicts of interest or are too busy. I am not a member of a teaching union. I do not have a clause in my insurance policy that pays legal fees. I need to get the right Legal Help and quickly.

    Please let me know of any Barrister who has a good track record in sorting out problems for teachers. My account really is shocking but I need to tell it to a barrister.

    Thank you
  2. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    Can't help at all, but just posting out of sympathy and to say goodluck
    papakura and (deleted member) like this.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I concur with post 2. It does illustrate why union membership is so important.

    On a practical level can l suggest applying for temporary (fixed term) posts? Sometimes a school will be desperate to fill such a post, and might give you an opportunity. You then can use them to give you a reference.
  4. alyj

    alyj New commenter

    Morning. Your story is similar to mine. I left mainstream in 2015 to work in an SEN school which I love, however, I have rejoined my original union as the care of duty by my current employer is not there. Some are more equal than others as George said.

    Could you ask a trusted reference from a previous post as one of your referees? Your next one could be a character reference from someone of standing (as in passport applications).

    Remember: this is temporary, it will pass, you will get through it.

    Citzens's Advice are excellent too, have you tried them? Teacher Support Network are also wonderful.

    Pace yourself and make sure that you are eating properly, drinking lots of water and being kind to yourself. This is not your fault. You are a good person. It will be resolved.

    Sending you big hugs, right now....
    papakura likes this.
  5. Aaaarghghgh

    Aaaarghghgh New commenter

    papakura likes this.
  6. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    It is foolish for a schoolteacher not to be in a union.
    I can't help you with a Barrister or Solicitor who specialises in this field, but if you have knowledge of matters that need airing/investigating, then I suggest you try this:
    papakura likes this.
  7. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    It occurs to me @GLsghost might be a good poster to point you to the most productive route in this.
    1 person likes this.
  8. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    You would find a barrister via the bar council link, already given above. Most now have direct access, so there is no need for a lawyer to instruct.

    However, I'm not sure how far you think you will get with this, if anywhere. The new job was presumably with a new employer, so few rights, unless there was an automatically unfair reason e.g. discrimination.

    The reference must be factually accurate and fair. If it is not there may be a complaint of negligent misstatement, in which compensation would be by way of putting you back in the position you would have been in, had the negligence not occurred.

    If you believe the school is engaging in activities that are unlawful and not in the public interest, the go-to organisation is Public Concern at Work. www.pcaw.org.uk
    papakura likes this.
  9. papakura

    papakura New commenter

    Thank you All
    Some useful advice there.
    Not sure I agree with the need to be in a Union though.
    I have done nothing wrong and find Unions can get it spectacularly wrong
    Thanks again
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    What are you asking the barrister to do for you? What is your objective?

    What will you say?

    There seem to be 2 things going on:
    1 a reference you believe to be inaccurate and unfair
    2 practices which deserve to be whistle-blown

    You could help yourself with the first before going to a barrister.
    The second? I don't see how a barrister will help.

    Bad references
    If the worker thinks they’ve been given an unfair or misleading reference, they may be able to claim damages in a court. The previous employer must be able to back up the reference, such as by supplying examples of warning letters.

    Workers must be able to show that:

    • it’s misleading or inaccurate
    • they ‘suffered a loss’ - for example, a job offer was withdrawn
    Workers can get legal advice, including from Citizens Advice. They may also get legal aid.
    papakura likes this.
  11. papakura

    papakura New commenter

    Thank you All
    I am probably not going to post again but will watch the thread for further advice

    I would like to claim damages for a bad reference. For this am hoping to get a barrister who has dealt with this sort of thing successfully before; I was thinking this might be a good forum to ask for recommendations.

    But there are other issues which I will not go into other than to say if my children were not involved I would probably walk away and ignore what has happened.

    Not too interested in whistleblowing - I think whistelblowers are treated incredibly unfairly. If I were going to "air it in public" I would hope it would not be anonymous. Unfortunately, we do not live in that "ideal world" that I alluded to.
  12. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    As you are not in a Union I was just wondering how you are in a position to say they can "get it spectacularly wrong" ?
    Had you been in a Union you would not be in the situation you are in at the moment.
  13. papakura

    papakura New commenter

    I take your point but I have been a member of a union for most of my career. I am not sure that everyone who was in a Union when they encountered similar problems would agree that their outcome was a good one and perhaps they would have preferred a barrister to look at the issue. That is why I posted here, I was hoping that someone might have used a good barrister and was willing to share.

    I do not see these problems going away if we all join a Union. Perhaps if we had a half a dozen successes with teachers employing Barristers then the Unions could better help teachers in the long run. After all, the unions are representing both sides in the dispute so it seems to me that it is not in their interest to set precedents that might ultimately be used against them.

    Really will try to watch and not post now as I think the thread is broadening into something else and I do not want to get into an argument over Unions. It is just some on this thread seem to believe that you MUST be a member of a Union.I should not have responded.

    But was just replying to you because I was emailed your reply.
  14. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    Clearly your understanding of the function of Unions and who they represent is somewhat confused so there is little chance of making headway, here. I will finish by saying that few if any working teachers are in the position of being able to afford the services of a barrister and while Unions are are far from perfect they do a pretty good job in looking after the interests of the vast majority of their members. I do not expect a reply and wish you all the very best with your issue.
  15. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    "Oh brave new world that has such people in it."

    I was in a union. I made the mistake of trusting them. That's why I requalified in Law.
    yodaami2 and papakura like this.
  16. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Direct instruction of a barrister can often be cheaper than a solicitor. They charge by the day or half day, whereas solicitors charge by the 6 minute unit or hour. Typically you would pay £250 + VAT per hour for a solicitor.
    papakura likes this.
  17. papakura

    papakura New commenter

    Thank you for this. Have already identified what seems a very good barrister from the link and have already had a reply from their office. I specified expertise in employment, education etc...

    Thank you
  18. Oscillatingass

    Oscillatingass Star commenter

    I clearly stated that Unions are not perfect, few organisations are. Union officials are not trained barristers but have legal support if required and in most cases this works quite well with by far the majority of issues for members being dealt with effectively. Obviously some things happen which work out unsatisfactorily despite the best efforts of all concerned. On balance would one council a newly qualified teacher to join a union or keep saving money in case they need the intervention of an expensive Lawyer? £250 plus VAT per hour!
    Last edited: May 17, 2017
  19. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    Unfortunately, "doing nothing wrong" is not enough to keep out of trouble. Sometimes trouble just turns up and, if it does, it is helpful to have someone on your side even if they cannot always put things right.

    Plus, there is always the indemnity insurance, just in case you wipe out a class load of kids.:D
  20. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I was a member of 3 different unions over 30+ years. Twice l was significantly helped by my union ( 2 different ones). I would always recommend union membership.

    PS my changes of union had nothing to do with my level of satisfaction with the service l received.

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