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Forced to resign during NQT year...

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Teachtronics, Jun 8, 2016.

  1. Teachtronics

    Teachtronics New commenter

    I'm posting this hoping that someone will be able to give me some useful advice...

    I started my first post as an NQT in September, and was given 40% of a second subject to teach which I wasn't employed for. I accepted this because I was assured that I would never be assessed on this second subject, only on my specialism. When I was then told I would have one of my formal observations in my second subject, I stood up for myself and said that although I was happy to be observed for development purposes, it was unfair for them to assess me on this as I wasn't employed to teach it. I ended up having to physically show the NQT mentor the passage in the statutory guidance that states that NQTs shouldn't be asked to teach a subject they were not employed for!

    The workload of trying to learn the subject matter and pedagogies of a completely new subject was already unbearable, and I had minimal support in this, but after standing up for myself I felt like my card was marked. I was systematically bullied by the NQT mentor and deputy head who I had stood up to. I was forced to produce voluminous evidence of all of my planning way in advance (like a full half term ahead) which added to my workload and which was never checked. I had observations graded inadequate when my HOD (also present during them) said that they weren't but he was unwilling to disagree with such a well respected member of staff. I had things like two observations in two days, one with less than 24 hours notice. I was due an observation from the head which I actually had notice of and was looking forward to as a chance to clear my name but it was cancelled at the last minute after he conferred with the NQT mentor and deputy.

    I have been told point blank by the NQT mentor that "NQTs shouldn't need any support" and that I should "just get on with it" when I told her that my work load was affecting my health and causing me to have panic attacks (something that had never happened to me before).

    I finally contacted the NUT and the local authority about the situation I was in and a meeting was set up where it was arranged that the majority of my second subject be taken off me. I felt hugely relieved and during the last half term I made a lot of progress as I finally had the time and energy to do my job properly. I produced a ton of evidence of how well I was doing and how I was meeting each standard.

    Then I was 'informally' observed by the NQT mentor and it was a complete hatchet job. In three pages of feedback there was one positive sentence. I was observed again in a lesson where I addressed most of the points she raised the first time and came out with the same result, the same single positive sentence on 3.5 pages of A4.

    It was clear that the school had no intentions of allowing me to pass induction. So I attended a meeting to discuss my options. I was firmly denied the right to representation by my union or an impartial observer from the local authority, and in the meeting I was told I had made no progress and given the option to resign, which I did. There was no compromise, so I now find myself with no job and no reference, two unsatisfactory interim reports that will make my life very difficult at any new school should I ever find one and the very real possibility of losing my house.

    I feel let down by the NUT, who's representative continuously advised me not to open my mouth about the treatment I had received, and who advised me to attend that final meeting without him and to keep my mouth shut.

    I am now writing a letter to the head to request a positive reference, that my interim report be modified and that they remunerate me with a month's wages. This is contrary to the advice from my NUT rep who suggested I contact the chair of governors and who says I should only ask for a reference, but his advice so far has allowed the school to completely destroy me, personally and professionally, whilst never having to admit any wrongdoing.

    I attempted to contact another union but was told they would not advise me since I had already spoken to the NUT. I feel completely alone and frankly betrayed. Can anyone give me any kind of advice one what I should be doing? I'm at the point now where I feel like I might have to give up on teaching and just get a minimum wages job to avoid ending up on the street.

    Thanks in advance for any advice,
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    In the spirit of trying to help I'll make a start but I'm not legally qualified so bear that in mind.

    Random points.

    • No other union will address this now.
    • You should go back to the NUT. Not the same person. I hope it wasn't the rep at school. But take it higher, higher, higher.
    • Gather all written evidence you have.
    • So many things went wrong and all atrociously badly handled. Initially it looks as if you were bullied.
    • Check your home insurance to see if you may have the option to take this to an employment solicitor. If you can secure a free half-hour of advice then look for that.
    • There is also the CAB to consider.
    • In fact, there's a lot going on here.
    • Look at employment tribunals. I'd give you a link but you can just as easily do it yourself. See if there's a chance you could follow that route. Maybe there is.
    • You seemingly have very little to lose so are at liberty to take fairly aggressive action.
    Best wishes. And wait for someone like @GLsghost to see this. Also @Rott Weiler
    wanet and pepper5 like this.
  3. varcolac

    varcolac Occasional commenter

    Several other semi-random points that sprung to mind while reading this (also I'm just a teacher, so not legal advice, pinch of salt etc.):
    • I was just at a meeting the other day discussing support for new staff, ITT, NQTs, NQT+1s, etc. The proposition that an NQT might require no support is flat-out ridiculous.
    • Union advice on observations and planning, as well as Ofsted advice on observations and planning - your (now former) school is going against those on pretty much all counts.
    • Grading on Ofsted criteria - amusing as the Big O no longer do that themselves (lots of schools still do though, including mine [but broken down into different areas and averaged overall], so that's a pain), and regardless of that, NQTs should be assessed on whether they have met the Teachers' Standards, not attained outstanding observations. In my NQT year my first couple of observations were 3s, but with support ended the year teaching much better ones.
    • 3.5 pages of feedback is unhelpful. Should be given clear targets for improvement. "You need to provide more extension work for G&T." "Less teacher talk next time." "Sanction misbehaving kids quicker to improve behaviour management." Clear targets. Not 3.5 pages of waffle and venom.
    Take it to your union, go higher. They seem to have not done their job very well here, and I hope you still have evidence from the Local Authority, school, and union to prove the significant shortcomings in your induction to that higher level.

    Good luck.
  4. Urbanfaerie

    Urbanfaerie Occasional commenter

    I haven't much to offer, but just to say I had a similar experience. It took me over a year to go back to teaching after that, and even now (having passed my final term and working as a qualified teacher) I still doubt my ability despite loads of positive feedback.
    It angers me that schools can do this.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    I can't offer anything other than what GDW has said. Are you able to go back to the Local Authority to tell them what has happened?

    You have kept detailed notes and a history of what has happened. As GDW says, you must go back to your union and also check your household insurance for legal cover.

    One last thought....if you contact the Teacher Support Network, they may have other advice of where you could gomfor legal assistance or where to get other help and information.

    I would not contact the Head until you speak again to your union higher up.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  6. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    I have also had an appalling NQT year, and was forced to resign in order to save myself. They have lied about me, bullied me, not supported me, not given me feedback, not given me targets, talked to me as though I am a piece of dirt, tittle tattled about me, rigged data to make it look as though my students are not making progress, and who knows what else (I learned something new today about what they've done to someone else, and it is evil - they are actively trying to destroy someone).

    I am just so ANGRY that schools are allowed to behave like this! Unions and your local authority cannot compel the school to do anything, and there are absolutely no repercussions for the school, despite union and local authority involvement. Unless they have breached employment law or some other law you have no legal avenue; not having followed union guidance on induction is not illegal, but it has a massive impact on your career and life.

    Sorry, I am upset today. I haven't left my job yet, and today I was doing a handover to the person who will be teaching one of my classes. I showed her what I've been doing with them and she said it was fantastic, and it's such a shame they're getting rid of me. I could have cried right there and then.

    To the OP - if you want to stay in teaching you'll have to do what I'm planning to do: supply work, until I find a school that will take a chance on me. Regarding the reference, it must be factual, so if they provide a reference that is not true you can pursue legal avenues.
    pepper5 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    Supply will be a revelation. You may end up in some horror-shows but you'll find a good place who values you. It's a great way to find work.

    And what a boost from the new person. Hold on to that.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter


    I am truly sorry to read of your dilemma and what happened to you. Maybe new laws should be passed to protect NQTs.

    At least with supply, you will be able to have a VERY good look around a school before you decide to try your induction again. I am sure there is a good school out there who will snap you up. I do a lot of supply and I know schools are looking for good teachers like yourself.

    Try to stay strong and something good will come out of your experience.

    If you want any help with anything to do with supply, pop over to the supply forum as there are a lot of helpful posts there.

    I will keep you in my thoughts and prayers.

    Once you get into the swing with supply, you will like it because you will be able to see a whole variety of different schools,classes, and people.

    Try to relax a bit this evening and treat yourself to something nice to eat and rest your mind.

    Things will get better.
    blueskydreaming likes this.
  9. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter


    This thread would be better in Workplace Dilemmas
  10. TES_Rosaline

    TES_Rosaline Administrator Staff Member

  11. HelenREMfan

    HelenREMfan Star commenter

    So sorry to hear this. I have to concur re experience with the NUT. My daughter was very badly "served" by them and alas did not seek any other advice at the time, just accepted what she was told. Take the advice offered here..... go higher..... make the NUT work for you. You have paid union fees they should be representing and protecting you. My thoughts are with you and I hope these awful matters can be resolved.
    pepper5 likes this.
  12. englishteach101

    englishteach101 Occasional commenter

    Of course NQT's need support, that's why there's the extra protected time on their timetables and the fact that they are assigned a mentor. Unfortunately this is quite often where this support actually stops. In my NQT year I had very little support and whilst I didn't receive anything like the venomous treatment you have OP, I have seen it happen to other NQT's.

    This is definitely workplace bullying, probably constructive dismissal and defamation of character. References must be factual and can sometimes be negotiated in situations like these. Definitely speak to an area or regional representative from your union. Get all your evidence together and be prepared to fight it out. You are in the right here, even if your performance wasn't up to scratch, it is also the responsibility of the school to provide you with the appropriate support to ensure that you are achieving the teacher standards consistently rather than just to let you drown.

    Good luck! Supply is a good option, I did it for a term and after a really bad experience with a school, it gave me the confidence back in myself to come back from it and move forward. It also does absolutely give you an opportunity to see what a culture is actually like in a school, rather than the one that's presented on interview.....
    pepper5 likes this.
  13. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Most of what I'd say has already been said. All I can add is that you can recover from this, I had an interupted induction due to not getting on in my first school and I'm coming up to a decade in teaching now. So you can recover and supply is a great way to do that, and you can complete your induction on supply if you get a long term post.
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. Zipphorah

    Zipphorah New commenter

    What a terrible experience you've had. I had a bad NQT year- although nowhere near as awful as yours- and resigned. I then did supply for two years and ended up being offered a job after the person I was covering didn't return. That was 20 years ago!
    I really hope you can sort this out, they shouldn't be able to get away with it. I've seen a lot of bullying of NQTs- and it's just wrong.
    Billie73 likes this.
  15. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    It does sound as if you were badly advised by your union. as far as the legal position is concerned, you can only take action if your treatment is due to a protected characteristic, however unfair that may be. It would be easy to go back over what happened and think about how it should have been dealt with, but it is probably too late for that. That should not stop you getting proper legal advice if you want, especially if you can get it for nothing. Supply does seem the right way forward, and others have come back from this sort of thing, as @Zipphorah has said. I hope it works out well for you in the end.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  16. Teachtronics

    Teachtronics New commenter

    Thank you everyone for all your advice and support. Unfortunately I can't even do supply until the school agree to give me a reference, and getting that out of them could drag on until the end of term!

    Hopefully I can start supply in September, I suppose I will just have to find some menial work until then to pay my bills, but even that is proving difficult! I spent 6 years working in retail and promised myself I'd never go back, so my job options are limited!

    The person I have been dealing with at the NUT is the regional secretary so I don't know how much higher I can go. He is adamant that I didn't have any right to representation at the meeting where I resigned because it was ínformal' and has ignored all my questions about the possibility of legal action. The person I was in contact with at the local authority is ignoring all of my phone calls and emails.

    Thank you to everyone else who has shared their experience and tried to reassure me, I will post again if I make any progress.

  17. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    Use your PGCE/ITT places as a reference, might help speed you into some supply work.
  18. Teachtronics

    Teachtronics New commenter

    I would but everybody wants my most recent employer :/
  19. hammie

    hammie Lead commenter

    as mentioned, supply can be a great way into a good school that suits you and wants YOU. Find a good agency and they will support you and help you regain your confidence.
    regarding meetings. You have the absolute right to have a "friend/union rep" at any meting where you so desire one.
    ***** school and management, be very glad to be out of it.
    In the last three years, I have worked with 3 NQTs who have been failed by their school (in both senses of the word) all three are now teaching happily and successfully at another school.

    I it help to know, after 20 years, I had a breakdown at one dire school a few years ago, with the help of an agency I returned to the job I love via supply and am now back permanent.
    agathamorse and pepper5 like this.
  20. Moony

    Moony Lead commenter

    I had problems with a crappy reference from my first school when i signed up to supply. I gave (to the agency I'm still working through) my school reference and 3 references from my PGCE.....they took me on.
    pepper5 likes this.

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