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Face doesn't fit, disability, backstabbing and wanting to leave

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by sparklebanana, Nov 10, 2019.

  1. sparklebanana

    sparklebanana New commenter

    Hi all,

    I feel horrible at the moment and my current situation is really getting me down. I have a disability which I made my school aware of a few years ago when I requested a reduction in hours, which was granted. I have recently become more ill (I believe because of work) and have had a fairly short period of absence, from which I have now returned. My requests for simple changes which would help my health condition have been ignored for a while and I have had to keep on chasing and requesting. Things still haven't really changed. This has left me feeling really down as I wonder how i will continue to do my job.
    I have recently been informed by my Headteacher that some of my colleagues have been to complain about me because I didn't have as positive an attitude as others and wasn't pulling my weight with regards to physical things around the classroom (which is one of the things I have asked for help with). I have tried to be totally transparent with everyone about what I can and can't do and have offered to do other things to make up for the physical tasks I am unable to do. These tasks are things which aren't expected of all other teachers but that are specific to my role. The only things I have said that weren't overly positive were when I joined in a discussion which was already taking place, during which time a lot of my colleagues were being just as negative, if not more, than I was! I can only think that the people having this discussion are the ones who have complained about me.

    I am now left struggling with a disability, no real changes as such and with absolutely no-one I can trust. I don't know exactly who it was who complained about me but I have a good idea. It's such a horrible feeling. I keep trying to just smile and get on with my day, not talking to anyone except for the bare minimum about work as I don't want to get sucked into another trap of a conversation.

    I did feel like something wasn't right before I spoke to the Head but thought maybe I was being paranoid. In a way I feel slightly better to know that my instincts were right. I asked the Head who it was that made the complaint but he said he couldn't say.

    How do I get through this a) struggling with a disability and no real changes (I desperately don't want to be signed off again) and b) feeling like such an outcast with no friends and no one to trust. It's such a sad and lonely situation.

    Has anyone else felt like this?

    What did you do?
  2. Stiltskin

    Stiltskin Star commenter

    Have you talked to OH yet? They would be my next port of call
  3. sparklebanana

    sparklebanana New commenter

    What could they do?
  4. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    OH can make it very clear to your HT what needs to be put in place to enable you to do your job. But whether the school enforces it is open to them.

    Union. Now.

    Your HT clearly doesn't want to help, and is encouraging a culture of backstabbing. You're in EYFS when you physically cannot do everything that's asked of you. That's not acceptable.

    You've posted previously about how you're doing this job whilst studying for a Masters and have two small children. It sounds completely exhausting.

    This job, certainly this school, isn't worth the grief it's causing. There are better places out there which do accommodate staff with health issues.
    agathamorse, Weald56 and phlogiston like this.
  5. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    You need a risk assessment. Asking for a referral to OH is a good start for this as they can make recommendations to the head about what adjustments you need to help you stay in work.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Is your head someone you could speak to about changing your role in school from January? You say there are no real changes, but I assume the main change you need is to move out of EYFS, which can't happen part way through the term. Do you know other teachers who might be happy to swap classes in January? Try to think of solutions to how the adjustments could happen and take those to the head. Be prepared to compromise a little, but an OH report should strengthen your case.
    agathamorse and phlogiston like this.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Sorry you're in this place. Ihope that you can find a way out of it.
    It can be miserable when you feel less capable than others especially if that impacts on the way you deliver that role.
    Both occupational health and your union can help you move towards a formalised plan for what works for you. If you're in a primary school, odds are you don't have a union rep in your school, Mrs P never worked alongside someone who was part of the union in a 30 year career. However, on your union card will be some useful phone numbers, if nothing else, they can give you a script to start renegotiating. OH can give you a piece of paper that says "sparklebanana can do this, this and this, and is fit to work, but is unable to (whatever) so needs these adjustments". You have already offered to do other things to compensate.
    It may be worth looking to see whatever other schools are out there, some will not look beyond the disability, but somewhere out there is a school who will see just what they need.
    agathamorse likes this.
  8. sparklebanana

    sparklebanana New commenter

    Thank you. I just feel so worthless at the moment and feel like everything I do is wrong.
    I’m not sure if I actually want to look for another teaching role. But then again I absolutely love the teaching part of my job.

    I am worried no-one will ever employ me, especially if I don’t have the best sickness record.
  9. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    If you are being made to work beyond your physical capacity because they are not accommodating your disability that's on them. Not you. That's why the union needs to step in.

    You are not worthless. It is unacceptable you are being made to feel this way.
  10. sparklebanana

    sparklebanana New commenter

    To be honest it’s the backstabbing comments that hurt more than anything else. Who goes to complain that someone isn’t being very positive? I imagine there are quite a lot of less than cheery conversations that happen between colleagues in many schools across the country. Talking makes people feel better. Like they’re not the only ones. Now I have nobody to talk to, must remain guarded at all times and know that the people I thought were my friends have been bitching behind my back.
  11. 43Meadows

    43Meadows New commenter

    I think you may be in for a pleasant surprise if you have a meeting with occ health. Speak with your HT and ask for a referral ASAP. Next inform your union so they know what is going on and then make sure you have a good read of the equality act 2010 and a look in ACAS website. Failure to make ‘reasonable’ adjustments for a disabled person is unlawful. Of course the term ‘reasonable’ is open to interpretation but asking for an extra member of staff, adjustment to working pattern, help with tasks etc is not ‘unreasonable’. If you were asking for the school to modify the building requiring major building works then that would be unreasonable. Once occ health are involved you may find you are entitled to leave of absence (without increasing your sick leave) until their recommendations are put in place. So take a deep breath and make the calls tomorrow.
    agathamorse likes this.
  12. vannie

    vannie Star commenter

    Aah ‘positivity’ ... it’s the new stick du jour. My advice? See all, say nowt and every time one of them says anything remotely off message chime in with ‘oh, that’s a bit negative don’t you think?’
    You have my sympathy ... I’ve been there. For me it was when I was struggling with menopause and depression. Some people just love to try and get on by painting others in a bad light. Narcissists.
  13. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    I assume that you do not know who your accusers are. The problem with the 'anonymous complaint' is that it can often be used as a mechanism for bullying either by SLT or by the complainer or both.
    Any fiction can be presented as fact. Treat these complaints as the malicious nonsense they are. People should either 'put up or shut up'. If they don't think you are doing your job properly then they can come out and say so and must be prepared to have their own work record and motives examined in the process. Because you are under stress, you become an easier target for bullying. Speak to OC and also get union support. If you need time off on sick leave then see your GP, you deserve to be treated fairly.
    agathamorse likes this.
  14. Sally006

    Sally006 Senior commenter

    I have to agree with this. It’s a tough tough world out there. I was off with WRS and severe depression for 5 months. Dr who did my OH referral recognized I was unlikely to fully recover and stated a risk assessment was needed for my return to work and that I would have “limitations” but could continue to do a good job with that support. Whole thing totally ignored. I now work part time and Consequently do have a reduced workload because I share it with my partner. I have considerably less pay but I can see it in the eyes of my colleagues - a sort of jealousy. I used to do so much in that school, it made me seriously ill and now I can’t do what I did. Others find that hard to accept. When I am there the pressures are just same and a struggle. There is no sympathy. People are locked into their own world, many miserable in their jobs and strange jealousies emerge and definitely no consideration for your problems. All you can do is stand your ground. Get stuff in writing from OH and Union back up. Lots of folks on here tell you to move on but I do sympathise as this is often just not an option.
    HolyMahogany and agathamorse like this.
  15. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Good advice above - Union, OH and a new job. In that order, I suggest.
    HolyMahogany and agathamorse like this.
  16. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Once when people looked as if they thought I was being negative I said,
    "I'm not being negative.
    I want this to work. I'm looking for and highlighting the problems so we can avoid them and give the children the best experience".
    They couldn't argue with that.
  17. Iulbahar

    Iulbahar New commenter

    I have been in a similar position to you. You could try contacting Access to Work, who can negotiate with your employer on your behalf by requesting reasonable adjustments.
    CWadd likes this.

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