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Genuine question about this forum

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Admin Princess, Mar 8, 2019.

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  1. Admin Princess

    Admin Princess Occasional commenter

    I've been browsing 'Workplace dilemmas' for the last ten minutes and during that time I've read three comments where one person says to another (whom I assume they don't know apart from via this forum) something along the lines of "I have no doubt you're an excellent teacher, they're just out to get you." The person they're referring to is usually subject to a support programme/capability procedure.

    My question is, why would you assume that s/he is an excellent teacher who invariably does the best for the students under their care? Surely it's the case that many teachers are like that, but there are inevitably some who are lazy/useless/jaded/a complete git? The majority of us will present ourselves in the best possible light in the public forum, but the desire to be supportive seems to result in a very one-sided viewpoint. (There are notable exceptions to my argument - @grumpydogwoman @nomad and @Rott Weiler always seem to give very balance advice.)

    Any thoughts?
  2. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter

    well, from my many decades teaching/mentoring/TAing in schools, I have seen many useless, and many brilliant teachers.

    There is a certain type vulnerable to getting managed out.

    The experienced ones. The ones who have seen several complete cycles of initiatives, and come back round to the start again,several times, and have survived it all.

    these are the less compliant, more cynical ones, the ones who probably know far more than their barely-out-of their-teens managers.

    you get a lot of very young, very inexperienced people promoted, largely because the older more experienced ones don't want the jobs. That does however leave a lot of power in the hands of some very insecure and basically incompetence people, who have very little real knowledge and experience.and who can't cope with the older, wiser, more cynical, less compliant element, and who also feel threatened by their experience.

    Generally, the people I have known go through competency have been older, wiser, more expensive people, and it has most likely not been related to their actual competency in teaching. of course, sometimes I am sure people get put into competency because of their competency, i haven't seen it happen.

    My line manager became my line manager in her NQT year. year later, she is now 23 I believe. I am 52 with 30+ years of experience. She can't cope with the job, and can't cope with me. I fully expect her to grade me as incompetent.
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Is it not often politeness? Assume that the OP is beyond reproach? Deference? I'm not sure. Wanting to see the best in people?

    I think schools are desperate to shed staff due to budget cuts and a lot of experienced teachers are in the firing line. Redundancies entail extra costs to schools so they'd rather manage you out. It's cheaper. It's disingenuous. It's an abuse of the capability procedure to put decent teachers through it. It's deplorable.

    One way or another? We have become surplus to requirements either through our inability to perform the role in the way schools require of us or because our salaries simply cannot be afforded.
  4. foxtail3

    foxtail3 Star commenter

    When people post on Workplace Dilemmas, it’s reasonable to suppose that they do so because they are distressed/unsure/worried about a situation they find themselves in.

    That person may or may not be an excellent teacher and may or may not be an incompetent teacher, but if they are older and more experienced, the likelihood is that they might be subject to capability or criticism, simply because they are more experienced and more expensive. Of course we don’t know what each individual’s classes are like, but there are some very genuine dilemmas and some very troubled people who are desperate for advice. This forum has been instrumental in helping some who have been at crisis point.

    Those will experience on WD, can usually tell who is in distress and who is talking bull. But I’d hate to think that there wasn’t a forum to support those who need it.
  5. Admin Princess

    Admin Princess Occasional commenter

    Thank you for your responses. @dunnocks - your final paragraph is truly depressing. I've never really been one for the old "She's not old enough for the job" argument, but there's a gulf between age and experience. Madness!

    "Those will experience on WD, can usually tell who is in distress and who is talking bull. But I’d hate to think that there wasn’t a forum to support those who need it." I completely understand what you mean, but isn't blindly saying "I'm sure you're a brilliant teacher" akin to the situation where parents/friends encourage a loved one to go on X Factor (or whatever) because they're 'amazing', and they turn out to be average at best? They're being given a false sense of reality. Surely we can be supportive without commenting on things of which we have no knowledge?
  6. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    First of all, your positive comments regarding @grumpydogwoman, @Rott Weiler and myself are very much appreciated. I should also like to make mention of those many old stalwarts of the forum who no longer post, including Theo Griff, Middlemarch and GL's Ghost.


    Yes, there are lazy, useless, jaded, 100% git teachers out there and they do get called to account by their schools. Personally I intensely dislike the almost automatic assumption that all complaints on this forum are a reflection of poor management or vicious SLT.

    Posters should remember that what they read on these forums are the viewpoint of just one protagonist. The other side of the argument is not given.

    I know that this next comment will be slated by many posters but there are some **** teachers out there. They fail to engage the pupils, they fail to raise standards and they fail to achieve the requisite standards. When this happens, they come to these boards asking for sympathy and advice and the automatic response of so many posters is that the HT, the SLT or the school is to blame.

    Yes, there are instances when this is actually the case, but posters must realise that what they read on these boards is just one side of the problem.

    FWIW, I tend to ignore those posts where personal experience is given as a rationale for the response. As a HT, School Improvement Adviser, Assistant Director of Education and Clerk to Governors I have seen many examples of teachers wrongly 'managed out' and also examples of those removed from their jobs because they are completely unsuited to a teaching role. Personal experience is nothing to do with the situations so often posted on these boards.

    The best thing, IMO, is to signpost those distressed posters to a suitable source of support and not take sides.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
  7. install

    install Star commenter

    Its a public forum and as such there will be a range of experiences, support and advice on offer. What you perceive for example as 'balanced advice',.others may see as an inexperience talking or a recent lack of school systems knowhow. Similarly, what you see as 'assumed' may be a gut instinct.

    What is often interesting is that sometimes (but not always) the consensus of opinion or advice may be way off. Even by forum helpers and guides. But that can also be because of the lack of information that posters give. And of course many posters seeking help don't want to reveal too much to protect their identity.
    Last edited: Mar 8, 2019
    Jamvic, agathamorse, foxtail3 and 2 others like this.
  8. purplecarrot

    purplecarrot Senior commenter

    I was going to reply something similar.

    Some staff are treated awfully and bullied out. They rightfully need support and reassurance.

    Others are staff who aren't that good, refuse help and then claim bullying when someone challenges them. They tend to be the ones who are seeking confirmation that it's the evil SLT out to get them when the reality is they could do their job and be professional.

    There has to be a bit of balance or healthy reservation when reading some of these threads. I can think of former colleagues whose narratives in subsequent schools over their leaving are very different to the reality of working with them.
  9. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    I see the bias you're referring to but I don't get the point in trying to post impartial opinions. If the teacher is carp then they will already have been told this as part of the capability process and it takes a specially poor teacher to not realise that they are in fact useless. The feedback (not necessarily verbal) that comes from kids, colleagues, parents is usually obvious before SLT stick the boot in.

    Also the support/capability process will have been justified by a precise listing of failings and even the 'good' SLT (yes there are some) will struggle to be positive here.

    Finally (and tragically) our opinions on here count for nothing in the poster's school and it's nicer to be nice. There are plenty of sites where I can gather abuse after all.
  10. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    There are always two sides to every tale and one can never tell if the person concerned is worth their weight in gold or more on the chocolate-teapot spectrum.

    I tend not to make assumptions. I just generally suggest that, if you're unhappy with your lot, there may be avenues open to you. I don't generally go into high dudgeon mode as I'm aware that the person involved could be an absolute liability for all I know. I have to bear that in mind.

    I never take the "all SLT are barstewards" tack though. Again. How could I know? Given the vast numbers of staff occupying these roles I imagine there's a good chance a fair few are not top flight managers as many of them seem to have very little experience. But I'm sure much is asked of them and they must often flounder. I would never have been comfortable in that role so never sought it. I'm sure the extra pay is great to have but at too great a cost to my sanity.

    It's easy to criticise.
  11. Grandsire

    Grandsire Senior commenter

    As I see it, these days anyone who has stuck in teaching long enough to become ‘experienced’ deserves support without suspicion - the last decade has seen the job change enormously, and being ‘experienced’ often is interpreted as ‘unjustifiably expensive and resistant to the latest ideas’. It’s a cut-throat world, and heads are looking everywhere for ways to save money.

    If you didn’t enjoy teaching and feel it was somehow worthwhile, you’d have given it up ages ago. Anyone still clinging has clearly got grit and more than a little talent. The profession needs them.

    Someone (probably the wonderful GDW) said something very similar to me once, and it gave me strength to see what I was going through for what it was - unpleasant nit-picking by people who felt that if I didn’t do it their way, it couldn’t possibly be any good. As if they knew what good teaching looked like from their ivory tower! The best teachers are reflective and self-critical, and in a climate like that, unfortunately, they’re also easily knocked.
    bevdex, Jamvic, Fluffest and 9 others like this.
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    But I have met you @Grandsire so I knew what I was on about! It wasn't just a bit of a boost as I might give anyone to make them feel better and less despondent at a bad time.

    It was heartfelt in your case. I know a real gem when I see one.
    bevdex, sabrinakat, Curae and 6 others like this.
  13. shipscat

    shipscat New commenter

    As someone who currently has the HT on my back I think I would like to give you a rundown of how I see the situation. I'll keep the details a little vague as one doesn't know who is watching.:)

    I am in the early years of my fourth decade at the same Local Authority (not academy) school working as a class teacher.

    It has been a good place to work and I was (until fairly recently) very happy there and for some years have been on UPS3. The school was judged outstanding at the last OFSTED.

    I could go soon as I am not that long from TPS retirement age. However, as I had a gap in my contributions due to a spell outside working in education in the early years of my career and a spell when I was on casual rate when I first returned I would like to at least partially bridge the gap to my state pension age.

    I have always been there for the school apart from 20 years or so ago when I had a longer absence. Since then apart from a couple of family incidents and a day off for a minor illness in 2001 I have never been off. Always in early - remaining almost until the caretaker is locking up on many nights.

    I have organised residential trips, served as a teacher rep on the governors, helped out with a number of activities outside of school time and even went into school one weekend to help clear snow so the school could open on the Monday.

    Everything was going along fine until last spring when I fouled up a drop in. I was told to work with a senior teacher in status - but not in age nor experience - and discuss my plans for the following weeks. I was also told observe another teacher who the HT claimed was doing things the way that was desired. It was odd in that that from my observation that teacher's methods didn't seem light years away from mine.

    Towards the end of Summer term there was the usual PM observations done with the teacher I had been asked to work with and they stated I had taken on everything that was required and I was quite happy with the feedback.

    The new school year started and everything was going fine two work scrutiny feed backs were positive - even some excellent comments.

    BUT HT is on my back again wants a more formal support plan and as with last summer has threatened me with Capability again.

    To say I am depressed is an understatement - ended up calling the ESP Teacher Helpline - it is having a negative effect on my health. It is also having the same effect on a close relative for whom I act as carer as that person can see that I am distressed.

    I know what is wrong - I have been told they expect from more a UP3 teacher - but that is all I really know. Given my age I am not going to be around that much longer and I would be gone anyway in probably around 3 years - but I see myself being put under immense pressure by the current HT. I know they are wanting me to go. If they would be honest and ask I would think better of them but what I see is just an underhand method of getting rid of me.

    Friends who I have shared this dilemma with have made the obvious comment how come it has taken over 30 years for your competency to teach to be brought into question?

    Behaviour around the school has deteriorated significantly in the last few years not helped by a new HT and significant changes to the way the senior leadership team is organised.

    The school has also seen quite a large turn over of both teaching and classroom support staff in the last 3 years - it was somewhere where people would stay for years - so something must be wrong somewhere.

    Yes there are probably a few people on this forum complaining and deserve to up their game, but I imagine they are in a very small minority.

  14. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    As far as I'm aware, to go on X-factor you don't need a degree, a PGCE, to have completed an NQT year with numerous assessments and observations along the way and done everything else that you need to do to become a teacher. Is it really likely that an incompetent person will have completed all this? Sure it doesn't necessarily make them brilliant, but it certainly means that we should assume that they not incompetent, and that they don't deserve to be hounded out their jobs.
    In a very few cases, some people might no longer be performing at their best due to illness etc, but the old, caring, experienced headteachers used to actually support their staff if this was the case, rather than causing them more stress and potentially causing their demise.
  15. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    Don't hold back, go on tell em like it is :mad:
  16. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    That will be because we have see the "latest ideas" before, after a while you become jaded to it.
  17. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Lead commenter

    For someone who has been teaching for 15+ years to be suddenly such a terrible teacher that they need to be managed out, rather begs the question how did they get 15+ years and Performance Management cycles under their belt?

    Either they are having problems and need some support* or the PM system is not fit for purpose.

    *In any other profession you would want to hold onto the experienced employees.
  18. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    None of the teachers who share their experiences claim to be brilliant. They are often deflated that years of hard work could end up with no prospects thanks to a senseless system.
    We might lift our colleagues battered spirits with encouraging words that they never hear in schools because everyone in a school is busy with their own work in their own classes.
    If you're in front of groups of 30 students all day every day, with a mix of abilities, behaviour issues and Sen issues there really is no time to be lazy. Books have to be marked, tests have to be marked, interventions to oversee, endless hours of parents meetings to be sat through, data to be entered, emails to be read and actioned, bi weekly cpd meetings to attend......is there any teacher who has the time to be lazy these days?
    Some might perceive they do more work than others or that they do it 'better' in the system but that is naive narcissism. Or great leadership skills.
    Depends on perspective I guess......
  19. dunnocks

    dunnocks Star commenter


    I am currently being told I am brilliant for aspects of my teaching which I was failing performance management for not 10 years ago, because at that time and in that school there was a different set of "cutting edge research conclusions"

    My style of teaching is currently being held up as exemplary. I have not applied for progression or promotion, but have been awarded thousands of pounds in bonuses the last few years.

    Because everything around me has circled and circled, and I have basically remained the same.,taught the same way, developed a lot of course, but held the same philosophy in mind. Every 5 years or so I am told I am brilliant, and every 5 yeas or so, I am useless and incompetent.

    I generally just go along with what ever policy the school has, whilst knowing that many of them have been useless in the past, or debunked. take all that praise sandwich, 3 stars and a wish, ect. That keeps coming round, but I have seen several different generations suffer under that, and know it leaves young adults insecure, and suspicious of praise and unable to accept it, as they believe it is just part of the quota of praise that someone has to give them before saying something nasty. But whenever it comes around I adjust my paperwork to make it look like I am complying.

    I could list at least 20 "new" ideas from "current" research that I have seen come and go and come back again. Differentiatiion of course. There are whole years when it is considered the height of evil you deserve eternal damnation for, and whole years where you are expected to bow down at it's holy shrine. And many others.

    I recently downloaded and printed a set of power point slides out lovely deputy head in charge of training had just happily and enthusiastically presented to us. I showed them to an old man in his 90s. Yes, he had presented exactly the same "new research" when he was teaching during the war! He even still had some of his notes, and they were dated in the 1940s. I photocopied the and took them back and showed said deputy head. He was surprised. I wasn't!

    ( and I mean it when I say he is lovely- this is not a criticism of him in the slightest,he is great, he is just young and doesn't yet have much hindsight)
  20. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Even if a teacher is under performing or doing a disservice to the school in some way, they still deserve a fair process.
    There are many many posters who come here before Capability procedures have been instigated.
    And yet very few who post about the dilemma after.
    So I'm not sure why it is relevant to even consider how a thread apportions blame to either a teacher or a poor management. Most threads about support plans will largely focus on seeking a fair process. Most of the advice is how to conduct a meeting with representation or how to present what they want to say or how to get through the ensuing weeks, and if comments are made based on assumptions about that teacher's performance, it is generally in the spirit of adopting a strong mindset in order to deal with the procedure.
    The OP is based on threads functioning as judge and jury, but actually they don't. I don't see them like this at all when I read them. Such partisan comments appear now and then. but they appear in any thread on this forum, folks deciding that somebody somewhere is in the right or wrong.
    Jamvic, BetterNow, Curae and 2 others like this.
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