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Feeling pressured to run a trip

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by 53rr4tu5, Jan 19, 2019.

  1. 53rr4tu5

    53rr4tu5 New commenter

    I'm an NQT in a state secondary school teaching languages. The head of department is new this year and it's her first time as HoD. At the start of the year she asked me to run a day trip abroad but I said no as I have never been on a school trip before, let alone organised one abroad. There were some running in the schools I trained in last year but unfortunately there was no space for me to go on them. However, as an NQT I don't feel it's appropriate being expected to organise a trip when this year is hard enough as it is. Luckily my mentor stepped in and backed me up. She seemed to leave it alone for a while but now she has come back asking me to 'just research' a trip abroad. I told her once again that I don't feel comfortable running a trip when I've never been on one but she insisted she was only asking me to 'research'. A week later she then sent me an email asking me to get quotes and implied she wanted to run it this summer, and that she wants to discuss it at the end of term. I am feeling increasingly frustrated as it feels like she is still trying to get me to run this trip. I am only just starting to manage having an actual work/life balance and I do not see why I should be asked to obtain quotes for a trip that I'm technically only 'researching'. Am I being unreasonable here? I told her at the start of the year that I wanted to focus on my teaching as there are still several classes that I'm struggling with (though they have improved a lot) and I honestly have found it very difficult finding a work/life balance. During the first term there were several times when I wanted to quit but now finally I feel like I'm starting to settle down and really enjoy teaching. I don't want that to be ruined by the stress of this trip! Am I within my rights to say that I don't want to be involved in researching this trip? It is something that I would potentially be interested in doing in future but for the first time I would rather help out on a trip than run it. If you're helping out on a trip would you also be expected to do this kind of research or is that down to the person organising it?
    I would be very grateful to anyone able to answer any of my questions and give me some advice!
  2. SundaeTrifle

    SundaeTrifle Occasional commenter

    No, well done on communicating clearly and saying you do not want run the trip. You have thought through the consequences of taking on too much and have good reasons for saying ‘no’.

    Keep doing that through life in general and in your teaching career.

    Your HoD is being unreasonable. If she wants a departmental trip then she should be the one to run it.
  3. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    yes, you are being unreasonable, you have said you are not ready to run the trip, and you are not being asked to, you are being asked to do the research and the quotes.

    It doesn't work like that, I'm afraid, you don't get to say " I don't want this or that part of the workload because I want to "focus on my teaching" and "I'm not getting the work life balance I want""

    well, we all get to say it! mumbling into our cups of tea in the grumpy corner, but you don't get to say it officially and expect it to be acted on!
    nomad likes this.
  4. mothergoose2013

    mothergoose2013 Occasional commenter

    Well done for saying no to organising the trip, they are a huge responsibility, especially overseas trips. You are right that it would be inappropriate.
    if it were me I would get a few quotes and pass them on maybe with a "here are the quotes for your trip" tacked on. I'd probably also use your hod's name as the contact - that way you won't be inundated with phone calls / emails. There are quite a few companies that will pretty much organise your trip for you.
    If getting the quotes seems to be leading to you doing the next bit, and the bit after that I would talk to your hod / mentor again. That said I don't think there is anything unusual about you helping to organise a trip, or being expected to do so, in fact way back when i qualified it was one of the standards.
    yodaami2, strawbs, ATfan and 9 others like this.
  5. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Running a trip is not part of your job (even as an MFL teacher). Running a trip abroad is an NQT is a total no-no (IMHO). If I were you I'd continue to refuse (and keep communicating with your mentor, being honest about how you feel). You are right to concentrate on your teaching, 100%. I'd tell your HoD you don't rule running a trip in future (but I'd say 'after I've had the opportunity to go on one with someone else leading it). I suspect if you 'research' the trip your lazy HoD will then do their best to make you run it...

    NB Are you in a Union? If not, I'd join today. It's clear your HoD will act in a way that you will need support, now or in the future.

    PS If you feel you MUST do the research, you could either do it in the HoD's name, and get everything sent to them...OR do some research to find out the most expensive companies, and then 'forget' the others, just sending the expensive ones to the HoD so the trip doesn't run...;)

    PPS When I was in the SLT I was i/c trips (calendar, H & S etc), and I wouldn't EVER have allowed an NQT to run a trip abroad. Indeed all trips abroad required the Governing Board to OK them... Which in practice meant they had to be planned a year in advance...
  6. Wilmthrop

    Wilmthrop New commenter

    I started at a new school in January this year, leaving my old school in December. My departure was somewhat acrimonious for a large number of reasons, however in part, this was because I had volunteered to run a residential during the summer term. At this point in time, whilst I was planning to leave my school at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year, I had absolutely no intention of leaving before July. Consequently, I volunteered to lead the trip and put a lot of work into its planning and execution. At this point in time, like you, I was an NQT.

    The drama started as soon as I announced my mid-year departure.
  7. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    Piranha, tall tales, nomad and 9 others like this.
  8. Wilmthrop

    Wilmthrop New commenter

    I started at a new school in January this year, leaving my old school in December. My departure was somewhat acrimonious for a large number of reasons, however in part, this was because I had volunteered to run a residential during the summer term. At this point in time, whilst I was planning to leave my school at the end of the 2018-2019 academic year, I had absolutely no intention of leaving before July. Consequently, I volunteered to lead the trip and put a lot of work into its planning and execution. At this point in time, like you, I was an NQT.

    The drama started as soon as I announced my mid-year departure. The school attempted to pressure me into leading the trip (during the Easter Holidays) even after I had left their employ. As directed by members of the TES community (to whom I'm extremely grateful) I contacted the Union who provided advice which confirmed my decision to refuse all further involvement.

    In my discussion with the Union, one thing stood out which is relevant to you - that being that an NQT should not be responsible for leading a trip. They seemed to think that this should be a responsibility undertaken by the Head of Department or someone more senior. Therefore, if you are being coerced into leading the trip I would potentially seek advice and talk to the relevant people. However, in my (admittedly limited) experience it isn't exactly unusual for NQT's to assist with the organisation of trips and attend them as a supporting member of staff.

    Without sounding harsh, I don't think it is unreasonable to expect an NQT to undertake additional duties within a department. One's training year is where there should be an exclusive focus on teaching and learning. That an NQT has a heavier timetable is indicative of the fact that they are expected to undertake the full duties of a teacher; curricular and extra curricular. On the training route that I undertook, it was not uncommon at all for NQT's to assume additional TLRs and whilst I do question such appointments, it goes to show that you are capable of undertaking some additional duties in addition to your teaching.

    Your fears surrounding work-life balance indicate to me that your organisation skills may require a little bit of improvement. I can, however, vouch for the fact that organising a trip is not as arduous as you seem to think. Tour providers will do much of the work for you, the main duties you'll undertake are communication with parents and chasing students for various deadlines - it isn't as if it adds a good two hours of work every day. Moreover, once the experience is done and dusted, you'll be able to add it to your CV and demonstrate that you've made a positive extra-curricular contribution to your school. When applying for other jobs, this will be a key strength.
    JohnJCazorla likes this.
  9. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I don't think you should be taking any responsibility for a trip as an NQT but getting the quotes is fair enough. The HoD may ask you for some more help further down the line and really this might be useful for you in the future, seeing how these things are done. Playing a small part in the department beyond your own teaching could be a benefit to you in the long run. Be clear in your own mind about what is helping out - which you say you are happy to do - and what is taking responsibility, which you really shouldn't be doing.
    Catgirl1964, nomad, strawbs and 5 others like this.
  10. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    From what I've read, the HoD has stopped asking you to run a trip - she now just wants you to research one.

    You're new. Your HoD is new. It reads that she's under pressure from SLT to run this trip, and being new herself isn't in a position to say no. I would do some research, but make it clear that's it - and remind her thats what she asked. Sit down with her and have a constructive conversation.
    nomad, ATfan, 53rr4tu5 and 4 others like this.
  11. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Sounds fine in theory, BUT as someone who ran many trips, I'd always want to plan them myself if I was leading them, otherwise I wouldn't be able to answer all the questions parents, governors, pupils, colleagues might ask about it.

    I suspect the OP's HoD is trying to get the OP to run this trip by underhand means...;)
  12. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    Unless the HoD comes on here herself, we won't know what her intentions are.

    People can suspect all they like. It reads that the HoD is a bit overwhelmed and not sure or aware of the boundaries that lie. If the OP wants to move forward she could always ask the HoD to clarify that all she does is research. As the OP seems to have her mentor on side, if she can't ask, get the mentor to do so.
  13. aypi

    aypi Senior commenter

    tall tales, ATfan, 53rr4tu5 and 7 others like this.
  14. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    At this stage it isn't so much about your rights as about how/whether you are perceived as a team-player.

    I wouldn't say your rights as an employee are being trampled upon. It's not an outrageous request. She asked you to do something to help the department/her/the kids. Could she do it herself? Yeah. Should she? Hmm. She's delegating. She's supposed to do stuff like that. I think you are overestimating the amount of work you'll have to do. Point her in the right direction. If she thinks you've come up short then she might say she's a bit disappointed. Or she might be delighted!

    How much time can you give it? 45 minutes? Do that then. Go on the relevant subject forum on TES and ask for ideas for websites/firms/contacts that are good for trips.
    DYNAMO67, ATfan, Rott Weiler and 5 others like this.
  15. Marshall

    Marshall Star commenter

    I agree with Frank W. If I am leading a trip then I want to organise it, risk assess it etc.

    I would not allow an NQT to do a trip never mind abroad.
    blazer, tall tales, ATfan and 4 others like this.
  16. GirlGremlin

    GirlGremlin Occasional commenter

    I saw on another post that you ended up working 80+ hour weeks in a school. Maybe this attitude is why? Of course the OP is mot be unreasonable - surely collecting the quotes should be done by the person running the trip, since they have the best idea of what they want. I've found running trips extremely time consuming and stressful and wouldn't want to do it again, so don't feel bad 5PP or let other people male you feel guilty.
    Catgirl1964, ATfan, 53rr4tu5 and 3 others like this.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I would send an email more or less as @aypi has written for you and copy your mentor into the email.
    Job done.
    You might add something like
    ...I will not be going on a trip this year, but am very happy to consider accompanying one next year with a view to taking on leading such trips in a few years time.
    This shows willing and ensures you don't burn your bridges.

    But I agree with @CWadd that it sounds as if your new HoD is under pressure to organise a trip and is probably under pressure to do an awful lot of other things they never dreamed a HoD had to do. The first year as a HoD is almost as overwhelming as being an NQT, so don't be too hard on her, she probably needs support as much as you.
    Stiltskin, nomad, ATfan and 5 others like this.
  18. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    Perhaps, just perhaps if more of us said this we would not be in the Brexit we are in as a teaching profession.
  19. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    This is the sort of psychological burden which you can flatten quite easily-acquire some quotes from luxury resorts, to the wrong destination, departing from the farthest transit place from the school. Make sure all your enquiries are to places with a swimming pool and a bar. Be diligent in amassing the most unsuitable quotes you can find, and allow no butter to melt when you submit these to your HoD.
    Continue in this vein-do as asked, but do it very poorly. Yet eagerly. Soon enough she will ask somebody else to do it.

    Your HoD ought not to have asked you to run the trip-unlike another response above, I know organising an overseas trip is a mammoth time investment, which kicks in exponentially as soon as you announce the trip to parents. Your ,life becomes one convoluted data base of queries, bookings, payments, passports, allergies, itineraries, and running for pieces of paper whenever not teaching.
    Your HoD knows this.
    They want somebody else to suffer.
    Show them you are really very lovely but wont even get over the first hedge.

    Why let them down in this way?
    Because they are blinkered to reasonable refusal, and ought not to have asked you in the first place. You don't need to refuse, you just need to make them stop asking you.
    JohnJCazorla, ATfan and 53rr4tu5 like this.
  20. meggyd

    meggyd Star commenter

    Choose a non traditional destination. French Guinea, somewhere grim near the Polish border, a dangerous Spanish speaking country in Central America.
    53rr4tu5 likes this.

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