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going to be sacked :(

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by stressed_forever, Mar 30, 2010.

  1. Can i just say before i start, ive never been in trouble at school at all before this incident. Ive had a fabulous relationship with students and teachers and have got them through bad times over the last 4 years. My mistake has been to post pictures of school events on facebook (which have been set to private so only students can access them) ad to have students as friends. However, i spoke to my head about this and she had advised to put them into student groups which i did.

    however, the major issue is twitter. I ha blocked all students from following me but didnt realise that if you log out you can still see my twitter. They have had access to conversations which the school deem inappropriate, i.e. conversations with my friends on twitter which i didnt think anyone else could see and have see one remark by the school which was derogatory. I know ive been an idiot, but i honestly believed that 10 my tweets were protected 2) i had no student followers and had actually blocked them all.

    I have been suspended and have a hearing at the end of april. i assume that i am going to be sacked over this but wanted any messages of hope :( i love my job and would do nothing to harm the students and have actually used facebook with their knowledge to help students with coursework without which they would have failed. I am gutted and embarrassed that they have seen these convos many of the remarks came from friends rather than myself. The added problem is that i let my union membership lag and so cant get help from them. i feel like ending it all at the moment as ive been off for the last 6 weeks with stress over a partners assault and feel that they are looking for a wat to dismiss me.
     
  2. Can i just add that im not trying to defend my actions, but noneo fo the conversations were with students and i have never used inappropriate language to a student ever in my teaching career. I was at my lowest point when an occ health letter came through with reasons that were totally inaccurate whihc is why i just flipped and let off steam to friends on twitter. Never ever previous to this last 2/3 weeks whilst ive been under severe stress and extremely depressed has my conduct been called into quesiton and this really is a one off :(at this point im not sure im even going to be well enough to attned the hearing as i feel again so depressed and with ongoing issues with violent ex partner im not sure i can cope with it all. Would they just accept a resignation if given rather than go through the procedures?
     
  3. You are going through hell and have all my sympathies. I'm afraid I can offer no constructive advice regards work but there are people and places you can go right now that can offer support and guidance. You are not on your own. The Teacher Support Network can give practical and emotional help. Call then 24 hours:
    England - 08000 562 561
    Wales - 08000 855 088
    Scotland - 0800 564 2270
    Online help is also available from the same source. This is a group of charities and not related to the union. Please give them a call. If you stay in isolation worrying you are going to make yourself ill. There are things you can do to help your case, of that much I am sure.
    I wish you strength and I am hopeful this can be resolved.
     
  4. This sort of action is growing in frequency. The Facebook/Twitter side etc is one element - but the side of bringing the school into disrepute is probably what will be focused upon as that is less of a political hot potato....
    Read this - Australain http://thebigchair.com.au/news/insight/facebook-discipline-may-be-illegal
    http://www.guardian.co.uk/education/mortarboard/2009/may/22/twitter-teacher-tweet
    I would go and speak to ACAS too http://www.acas.org.uk/index.aspx?articleid=2179

    You are going to need some help - maybe worth a visit to CAB also - maybe even an employment lawyer after speakiing with ACAS.

    Good luck!
     
  5. Ravena

    Ravena New commenter

    Ideas for legal advice, if you don't have a union:
    Do you have home insurance? Check your policy to see if you have 'family legal protection' - it sometimes covers you for free legal advice on employment issues
    Some bank accounts that charge a monthly fee come with a free legal advice line.
    Otherwise, do as Miss Pious suggests, and visit your local CAB. Good luck.

     
  6. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I used my household policy. You have to have filed a grievance first of all and have a 51% chance of winning for them to help you.

    Go see an employment solicitor. You can get the first half hour free.
     
  7. phatsals

    phatsals Occasional commenter

    For Constructive Dismissal or Unfair Dismissal there is no longer a need to have filed a Grievance (April 2009).
    You may very well be entitled to free legal aid, click on the link below and put in your details, earnings and assetts are quite high so you may very well be eligible. I found them a great help
    Ring them and you will be able to speak to a solicitor for initial advice
    http://www.communitylegaladvice.org.uk/en/legalaid/

     
  8. ianj6

    ianj6 New commenter

    You have given very limited details for obvious reasons, however, if you've been suspended it is serious. You need to ask yoursef, "Even if I turn up to this disciplinary and the head says that I can come back to school tommorrow, would I be able to?" I'm guessing that whatever you've written is pretty bad, for the suspension to be this long, so the chances of you picking up where you've left off will be limited.
    I'm guessing you're a youngish teacher, it's not uncommon for young teachers to do daft things, just because you're a teacher doesn't automatically make you immune from bad decisions. It may be time for you to look for another school and learn from this. I would be thinking about trying to talk to, or getting a representative to talk to the Head and seeing if they would agree to look at giving you a reference which would allow you to sttill get another job in exchange for your immediate resignation. If it gets to disciplinary, the best you are likely to be looking at is a written warning which HAS to go on any reference given for at least 12 months (?) which will make finding a new job challenging. If you can get a reasonable reference, it's still before the 31 May so you are more likely to get a new post for September and make a fresh start. Even if you don't get a new post there is still the supply route were you can rebuild your credibility and keep looking for new opportunities. If you were in a union they would even ask for soem gardening leave aswell!!!!

    If this gets to disciplinary and the Head finds the misdemeanor is so serious that they feel the need to report you to the GTCE you will have a big problem. Have a read of the GTCE website and see what some teachers are getting hauled over the coals for!

    Hope the above helps

    ian


     
  9. The main problem is they see putting the photos up on facebook as a child protection issue, i understand totally however these photos have been up for a year and i have staff members on there who have seen the photos and have not mentioned it before i have had time off for stress and depression.

    The twitter conversations were the type youd have in a pub with a friend, talkin about men and some of tem were pretty close to the edge and used bad language but i genuinely believed i had taken evey step possible to stop students accessing my page even blocking any that found me as i never gave out my twitter name. The one i really regret is where i made a derogatory markabout the school. I never anmed the school at all but i did use bad langauge. The disiplinary letter states that the complaint was a serious undermining od child protection policy of the college which is seen as unprofessional and unsatisfactory

    i have asked if they will accept my resignation in return for a reference and i am waiting on their reply
     
  10. ianj6

    ianj6 New commenter

    Hi Stressed,
    You need to be really careful about what you say here, however,
    1) If the pictures were of a nature that puts the children at serious risk, the Head will be limited in their options, (eg improper images of children). The Head's first duty is the safety of children, be it at their own school or another. The Head will not negotiate if children are or are likely to be at risk, (and rightly so).
    2) I'm assuming you're not so daft as to post on here if you've done that sort of thing. From your user name and hints I've read in your posts it I think you may have a medical problem with stress. If you have, then often it means having time off, this then leads to problems with attendance.
    It may well be that your Head wants rid because your attendance is affecting the well being of the children and you have given her the tool to do it. This is not constructive or unfair dismissal as your conduct on twitter has been unsatisfactory. Whether they have turned a blind eye to it in the past or if your attendance etc was better and they may have dealt with it by a quiet chat is irrelevant. By your own admission, it was a daft thing to do, and you've handed the Head the tools they need to make your life uncomfortable.
    3) If they will go for the compromise, ensure you see the reference before you put in the resignation, and ensure that the reference doesn't start with the phrase "To whom it may concern",
    Hope that helps
    Ian
     
  11. No they were in no way improper images of children in fact they were very benign and of a school event. It was common knowledge that they were there with other members of staff on my profile and had looked at them with no word given to me thatr i should take them down. i genuinely believed i had blocked every attempt by students to access my twitter and was not aware of the loophole that existed to allow them to still access this.
    In fact the students in question have 'somehow' got wind of what is happening and they are in uproar about it :( they are organising petitions etc etc and as i find this will be disruptive i would rather disappear quietly so they can prepare for their A2 level exams. my main thought is with these students and the disruption it may cause them, so i want to do what is best for them as i have always done
     
  12. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    If you don't mind me asking, how did the students find out about it?
    I am presuming that this is being handled by only the people who need to know, so the rest of the school should be in the dark about it.
    You didn't "accidentally" mention it to anyone did you?
     
  13. no not at all, i assume that the student that took the issue to the people in charge have also leaked it to other students, rumours have started and its gone from there. Ive had NO contact and ive not tried to contact any students at my place of work at all im not that stupid. Ive heard thisa from an ex student i have kept in contact with, with someone still at my place of work
     
  14. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    Hi there, just wanted to say you have my sympathy - there are so many new ways of doing something inappropriate these days and schools are so hot on anything like this. I would have thought a written warning would be enough and it's hardly likely to happen again now. If you want to resign and feel you can't go back anyway, then fair enough, but if you have had four years of good solid work there then that is a job worth fighting to keep. No one was harmed by this, after all, were they? I think it is really unfair if the school is thinking of sacking you and I'm not even sure they legally can on what you have said. You definitely need to get legal advice on your side if you want to think of staying and challenging them about this, and you shouldn't feel you have to just roll over and take it. It may even be worth asking your ex-union if you can join again...worth a shot anyway as unions are brilliant at this sort of problem. Good luck anyway whatever you decide to do and I hope it works out for you and you aren't actually stressed forever...
     
  15. I think, as unfair as it might seem, posting children's photos on facebook without explicit written consent from parents is seen as a child protection issue and so I think they can sack. I know that is horrible and I know you probably put them on their with the best of intentions but it is just one of those things. I know that we arent allowed to even put photos on our school website without parents permission, let alone on facebook.
    You do have my sympathy though - I wrote a facebook status once which said I had a cr ap day at work - I didnt name where I worked or anything but someone who I was friends with reported it to the head (incorrectly - they said I had named the school and said it was shi t!) and I got pulled up on it. So unfair!

     
  16. Sorry - really bad grammar and spellings in previous post!
     
  17. I am basing everything I am about to write on the understanding that the pics you are at risk of being sacked over are normal school pics which could be found on any website, plus a single (intended to be private) sweary rant about school. Well, with regard to the rant, who hasn't had one of these? I've had three this week alone. Having an opinion isn't a sackable offence, even if you do swear. A simple written warning would suffice.
    Re the photos: from an entirely logical point of view, why is this a child 'protection' issue anyway? What exactly are the school 'protecting' the children from? If the kids are all clothed, having fun on their sports day or whatever, how is that in any way shape or form something for us to be terrified of? Every innocent thing is being tarnished - parents can't even take pics of their kids in nativity plays in some schools. This country is getting hysterical about paedophiles being ready to pounce from around every corner, and poor teachers like yourself end up being punished for something which, when looked at in a rational way, poses no threat or harm of any sort to the kids involved. I've taken loads of pics of my classes doing drama etc for display work; other teachers video their speaking and listening assignments and the school concert. It makes me wonder if I'd be arrested if I took the film from one of my lessons to Boots to get it processed. If you'd taken dodgy pics then I'd say let them throw away the key. But you haven't, and that's why you need support. All that was needed was a warning that the pics need removing. This whole thing sounds heavy handed and borderline hysterical. You have my sympathy.
     
  18. Chris4

    Chris4 New commenter

    Great friends, starsanddreams! Ex-friends now I take it? Why would someone drop you in it like that? Dreadful behaviour I think and it just shows that the Facebook 'friends' concept is not what we understand it to be in the real world...
     
  19. Yup - what was so annoying was when I tried to prove to the head I hadn't said it by showing her my facebook page she said she didnt want to see it! gargh... But yes it did lead to me deleting all work colleagues off facebook. I hate the fact that it infringes on personal lives...
    And with regards to the photos I am not saying I agree with the fact that it is a child protection issue but it is at the end of the day... We aren't allowed to post photos of our school children on the website without written consent from parents so I would assume the same is with facebook.
     
  20. I don't want to sound unsympathetic but I do feel that you have been a bit stupid. Yes, I ahve a facebook account, but I generally use it to observe rather than post. Now that the internet can be used against you in many ways I feel that, due to my job, I need to keep myself 'clean'. So much can be learnt about people without us knowing - I know that for certain as my hubbie works in IT, finding out a lot of info about friends and family.
    Your school is probably going down the safeguarding route. Posting photos is a mad idea, esp if you don't have parental constent. Ofsted can put a school into sp measures if safeguarding is a prob. That is what your head is protecting, I'm sure.
     

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