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Formal Meeting - Compentency

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by MarieLancaster, Jan 27, 2018.

  1. MarieLancaster

    MarieLancaster New commenter

    Following a personal development plan, in which the powers that be have done a lesson observation which they deemed to be requiring improvement, I am now scheduled for a formal meeting.

    I was asked if I understood the process, and believed I did, having read through the documentation. After meeting with my union representative, however, they highly recommend that I resign. They have said that if I have that formal meeting, it will essentially be on my record, as will any subsequent actions.

    Without disclosing too much information, my current situation is that I am pregnant and that I will be unable to find reliable work before my baby is due. But the way this has progressed so far this year, I am not feeling positive about the process, nor about my future with the school.

    I didn't want to leave my post yet, as I need the maternity pay. But risking my career and future job prospects does not seem worth the gamble.

    I am a good teacher, and am striving to jump through all the hoops. It doesn't seem enough for my current employer. What are the realistic consequences if I do continue with the formal meeting and subsequent competency process? Will it destroy the prospect of being hired by another school in a years time after maternity leave?
  2. MarieLancaster

    MarieLancaster New commenter


    I am a foreign trained teacher, so some of the terminology gets forgotten!
  3. clarefrankie

    clarefrankie Occasional commenter

    it should go through the informal support stage first before becoming formal. i don't really have any advice other then to contact your union.
    pepper5 likes this.
  4. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Union, ASAP. And ask them about the implication of your pregnancy on these matters.
    pepper5 likes this.
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    As I read it, there is no gamble-the fact is you know you are good and they say you are not.
    So this is destined to go on, and you have every chance of not achieving what they ask when on Formal Capability.
    This stinks. I feel for you.
    I also hear alarm bells when you detail that you are pregnant. what does your union say about this?

    If you leave now ahead of getting the big C on your employment record, then you have a better chance of regaining employment in the longer term ; you ought to ask your union about a Settlement Agreement, which basically allows you to exit and may also help you financially-it depends on the nature of your contract.

    What concerns me most is the tone of your post-very neutral, very accepting. In this sort of scenario you ought to be pushing your union for the best possible outcome for yourself, but I don't have a sense of you pushing them.
    Be proactive in speaking to them, and remember you can also ask to speak to somebody higher up in the union.
    Are you using a school rep? If so, you ought to request you speak to your regional rep instead, because a school rep, with the best will in the world, may not have the time or experience to assist properly. Additionally, it will help you tremendously to have a rep with ZERO interest in working in the place with which you are having difficulties.
    Stay strong-you do have options.
    JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  6. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I thought being pregnant made a difference. Perhaps @GLsghost could help here?
    If your username is your real name - get it changed.
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    If this is not a wind up post, nothing else matters except the pregnancy. That trumps everything else and the union (who should be sued for their advice so far) should be aggressively pursuing pregnancy discrimination as a strategy.
    digoryvenn, Pomza, CWadd and 3 others like this.
  8. binaryhex

    binaryhex Lead commenter

    The Union should be involved here. No doubt. The pregnancy and subsequent cost to the school suggests a clear discrimination. Don’t do anything or agree to anything without first sitting down and going through this with your union. If you are not in a union, you must seek legal advice. The school are in a very precarious position, but they seem to be relying on you not being able to stick up for yourself. If the school tries to get you to attend a meeting, tell them firmly, No, not until you have taken legal advice or had a meeting with you Union. You could also tell them you are concerned you are being discriminated against because of your pregnancy, that you feel you are being pressured to leave because of your pregnancy (say it in writing) and you need to take advice, before any further meeting takes place. Put everything in writing from now on. Don’t let anyone try to discuss this with you face to face. Just ask them to put it in writing so you can discuss it with your union. Also, find someone at school you trust to confide in and support you. It’s a stressful experience and you need support through it.
    Last edited: Jan 28, 2018
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Congratulations on the forthcoming blessing and I’m sorry this is happening to yet another teacher brave enough to join and try and stay in such a system.

    I don’t think it’s a neutral tone more a shock induced state. you really do need to speak to someone higher up in the union and keep pushing for help. As well as the teacher support line whenever the stress gets too much.

    A formal written warning for this sort of rubbish will not be taken off your record until you complete the process if ever. They are allowed to drag it on or keep it as short as possible. It’s not set in stone. Their choice entirely until you leave or they strike you off.

    Once in the process it is you against the might of the entire line management structure above you and their jobs and pay point advances all depend on each other’s evidence and ‘support’.
    Very much the case of you rub mine and I’ll rub yours.
    Confidentiality assumes that the process and everything written about your progress is shared between everyone in the line management structure.

    You will be the only one who can’t discuss it with any colleagues.

    Dodgy (as in no one knows how or why they were ‘promoted’) people talking down at you and offering vague often conflicting and unverified ideas of improvement and then judging you hardly makes for a two way reflective process......
    Except for discussion with union reps who may be collapsing under the weight of cases each one is dealing with.
    The union has no power to intervene in the process itself except to attend meetings, offer you advice when they have the time, and help in the settlement process.

    The decision is ultimately yours. But think about it carefully. They put you on a pdp which they claim was unsuccessful......They will have lots of spreadsheets and evidence of the ‘help’ they gave so far.....
    They don’t need evidence that you complied to support their judgement....

    For the sake of your mental health think carefully.
    It is a very stressful process.
    They don’t give you less teaching hours even though the process trebles your planning time.
    They don’t take out the high level disrupters they burdened you with in the first place and yet will judge the success of the ideas against.......

    Put your baby’s and your own health first.

    It’s pretty obvious they don’t want to pay maternity leave. The heads association has been in the media demanding more funding.....all ties in rather neatly!

    A solution of sorts until test cases are brought against them.....but it needs to be by the union not individuals......and many teachers are worked into the ground precisely to prevent them from attending union meetings which take place in their recuperating (not recreational) hours often miles away from where they live!
    JohnJCazorla and pepper5 like this.
  10. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Certainly do not just resign, you need a agreed reference to be able to work again.

    Go back to your union and press for someone higher up to take on the case.
    They should be fighting for all capability to be paused until after you return from maternity leave, and ideally forgotten about completely.
    (By which time you will hopefully have found yourself a new job in a better school.)

    DO NOT just resign.
    DO NOT go to the formal capability meeting.
    DO NOT take any more advice from that union rep, insist on someone higher up.
  11. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    Very good advice above and I only need to add this. Read the Capability policy very carefully and determine yourself where you are on it. It sounds like you already have looked at this given the Union advice to resign but make sure.
  12. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Well I didn't want to be presumptuous, but do other people get the impression this is an in-house Union Rep who needs to please the HT?
    If so, it's such a sad thing-staff in need of union support often have no prior experience of the possible conflict that some reps have to work with, and I have experienced reps who are actually in that role in order to assist themselves up the greasy pole. This role might serve everybody well if, say, the rep is to act as a recruiter for union members, or disseminate info on strike action, but anything beyond that which impacts on an individual's career cannot be addressed in a properly representative way.
    The worst thing is that a school rep is also able to obfuscate the need to go higher.

    But OP you must. Get you regional rep. Speak to them on the phone. Say "I'm approaching Capability and I am pregnant"
    I'd even suggest that if you cannot reach them on the phone before the next time you go in to work, do not go in to work.

    But of course I cannot publically encourage you to fabricate a health issue. Even if I secretly wish it.
  13. Anonymouse4

    Anonymouse4 Occasional commenter

    You are entitled to statutory maternity pay as long as you are on payroll by the 15th week before your expected week of delivery. Work out how far off you are from there. If you need help doing that, you can message me your due date and I can work it out for you.

    Do not resign from your job.

    Do not go to any formal capability meeting.

    See your GP as soon as possible.

    Demand better support from your union.

    So sorry this is happening to you. It's wicked.
    tall tales likes this.
  14. Anonymouse4

    Anonymouse4 Occasional commenter

    I also want you to read this:

    https://www.1001criticaldays.co.uk/sites/default/files/1001 one pager.pdf

    High and sustained levels of cortisol in the body is not good for your baby. I am signed off with WRS while pregnant and this is my main reason for being so. Your GP will be aware of the impact such a work situation will be having on your baby. You are pregnant. This is stressful.
  15. Anonymouse4

    Anonymouse4 Occasional commenter

    Also, if you haven't already done so, inform your employer of your pregnancy IN WRITING as a matter of urgency. You do not have to tell them your expected due date until the 24th week of pregnancy. Make the letter formal.

    If you have already put anything in writing -an email, booking time off for a midwifery appointment or scan, print these off or make a record of the when and who.

    I'm presuming you have in the very least told them verbally that you are pregnant? If so, allude to this discussion in your formal letter,

    "I am writing to inform you that I am currently pregnant. This has already been discussed with "xxxx" (line manager/head teacher/HR manager) on such and such date in a meeting regarding...."
  16. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I don't know for sure, @GLsghost will know, but if the employer doesn't know the employee is pregnant, presumably they can't really be accused of discrimination?

    It puts a slightly different spin on the situation.
  17. Anonymouse4

    Anonymouse4 Occasional commenter

    Correct. If the employer was unaware of the pregnancy the OP does not have a case for pregnancy discrimination per se. Also, even if they did, what if the support plan was put in place before the pregnancy? They could argue that they are just going through their capability procedure and in the case of this member of staff it started before her pregnancy.

    Still, the school do have responsibilities in regard to her being pregnant now. A pregnancy risk assessment, for instance. Time off for appointments. Absence for pregnancy related illness should also not be treated like other absences. Also, flexible working hours in regards to pregnancy. I really don't know how any pregnant woman can go through any form of formal or informal capability procedure. It's impossible.
  18. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    If this is a genuine poster (and there are an awful lot of the typical triggers for sympathy, combined with facts that don't quite fit in the OP...) the protected period commences when the woman notifies the employer in writing of the pregnancy. This triggers a duty to carry out risk assessment, facilitate paid time off for ante-natal appointments etc.

    Whether or not notification has been made formally to the employer, however, any union representative worth their salt would be arguing aggressively that any perceived under-performance is the consequence of the impact of the pregnancy.
  19. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    There's nothing inherently unlawful about putting a pregnant employee through capability proceedings - but the employer had better be bloody sure they've got all their ducks in a row before doing so.
  20. Anonymouse4

    Anonymouse4 Occasional commenter

    There's been a few of us pregnant teachers falling prey to the capability machine on here recently. I suppose, previously, schools would just not pursue the removal of a member of staff with a protected characteristic for fear of litigation. But, given most female teachers I know tend to wait until later on in their careers (and once they're on UPS) to have children, and because teachers on UPS are prime target for capability due to financial stresses, it does feel like we're now fair game.

    I'm being represented by my regional rep, but I've found myself educating him in regards to pregnancy rights. I thought I had a clear claim for pregnancy discrimination but he's really dissuaded me from taking this approach, has ignored my requests for him to elevate it to someone higher up in the union and I daren't seek legal advice for fear of losing what Union support I have.

    I don't think the unions are set up to help pregnant women and many reps also don't quite have enough understanding to empathise with what a difficult situation this is when you are full of hormones and can't just move on to another job or supply.

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