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Gross Misconduct?

Discussion in 'Personal' started by iamspartacus, Sep 15, 2008.

    • I have been suspended for 48 hours after and incident on Friday afternoon where i used swearing words against a student who was holding a sharp implement, and refusing to sit down or leave the room. I had called for assistance which didn`t arrive. The head saw me today and said he would contact me once he has interviewed some pupils from the class. He initially indicated that this would be gross misconduct- is it?
    • The language I used was the F word in gerund from followed by the insult ending in 'head. I also told him to eff off.
    • I am not a member of a union.
    • Is this the end of my career?
    • Very worried..
     
    • I have been suspended for 48 hours after and incident on Friday afternoon where i used swearing words against a student who was holding a sharp implement, and refusing to sit down or leave the room. I had called for assistance which didn`t arrive. The head saw me today and said he would contact me once he has interviewed some pupils from the class. He initially indicated that this would be gross misconduct- is it?
    • The language I used was the F word in gerund from followed by the insult ending in 'head. I also told him to eff off.
    • I am not a member of a union.
    • Is this the end of my career?
    • Very worried..
     
  1. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Yes, it constitutes gross misconduct, but your future depends on the head's decisions from this point on. It will relate to your relationship with him in the past, your past record (obviously, an exemplary one in all respects gives your union better rounds for arguing that it was a one-off resulting from a stressful situation), etc.
    It also depends on whether he is he sort of head who follows LA advice to the letter - and what that advice is. I've worked as a head in one LA where I know for a fact that they would have advised me to recommend dismissal to governors in a case like yours, and then one where I know they would take a more lenient view (provided it was a first 'offence').
    I've just seen you're not in a union. Seek legal help and advice now.
    If it would help you to email me privately, send me a message via TES and I will be happy to talk to you via private email.
     
  2. Richie Millions

    Richie Millions New commenter

    This would certainly constitute gross misconduct despite the difficult situation you were facing. Unions will not help you for retrospective acts. It need not be the end of your career, if the Head and governors treat you sympathetically they could give you a written warning becauseof the provocation you were enduring. Have there been any other previous incidents. If so it would obviosly be more serious.
     
  3. Havn't been warned before, though there was a previos talk when i used milder language . On that occasion a member of smt was sympathetic- it was 'provoked' by homophobic language. I am not gay, but hate homophoia. Overweight onanaist.



    I need to say that early in the lesson he swore at me.



    If there is a warning do I have to let new emoyers know? I recall there is a box on application forms regarding this. A box I have never had to consider before
     
  4. Middlemarch

    Middlemarch Star commenter

    Warnings are time-limited and expire (18 months is the usual) - once expired you don't have to mention it.
     
  5. Richie Millions

    Richie Millions New commenter

    Hmmm the "previous talk" probably would have been regarded by the SMT as an informal warning so you are now in a more vulnerable place. The fact the pupil swore first is not relevant I'm afraid. You do really need someone to represent you as this could ultimately lead to dismissal.

    Most written warnings have a shelf life of say one or two years from which point that can be disregarded it depends on the LA school policy. Most employers will ask for current disciplinary proceedings when requesting references.

    I wish you well and if you do get through this one obviously do not make the same mistake again.
     
  6. is this for written or verbal?
     
  7. Thank you both for you time with this. Is being sacked in this case the same as no longer being able to teach? Am I being 'struck off'?
     
  8. Surely this should be taken in context? If it was a normal banter between teacher and pupil over something like homework or minor classroom disruption, then of course, swearing is completely unprofessional and unacceptable. However, the OP was being threatened with a knife! Are teachers meant to cower in the face of danger and do everything the pupil says? And what happens if the violence is directed towards another child??
    OP, you sound incredibly calm although I imagine that is because you are trying to keep so. I do hope your HT and governors would take a sympathetic view on this, because I really don't see what you did as gross misconduct. Of course swearing is not right (even in the situation) but it was provoked, and that should be taken into account.
    Keep us posted!

     
  9. It wasn`t a knife ..it was a compass.
     
  10. harsh-but-fair

    harsh-but-fair Senior commenter

    surely a pair of compasses?

     
  11. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    At the end of the day you know your headteacher and if they will support you or not best...

    I would....

    1. Turn this around.... raise the issue of health and safety for employees.....

    2. Resign and save the hassle and stress

    3. Join some agencies and teach via them to rebuild up reference

    4. Learn to use the word 'poo' more often.
     
  12. Staying positive. Awaiting a letter now regarding this matter. I think ????????????????????????????????????????????????????
     
  13. Staying positive. Awaiting a letter now regarding this matter. I think it will detail the next step. This will probably be a meeting with governors and the Head?



    What if they try to bring in other matters? I dont have a supportative HOD and I am sure she would relish the chance to rubbish my work.



    I get a feeling of darkness descending. When you look at someone and see something missing. Thats just a feeling. I am more measurably in the wrong.

    Just wondering what they are doing with all this time!
     
  14. Richie Millions

    Richie Millions New commenter

    If there has been no official complaint from the boys parents the Head may wish to deal with it himself. If there has been a complaint it will have to be responded to formally. If there is a hearing you should be treated fairly and openly you are not on trial and it is not a court of law. No other matters except those directly related to the case should be raised. All relevant paperwork witness statements etc should be provided for you before hand. Nothing extra is allowed to be raised on the day. This is where Union reps come in handy as they know the procedures and can ensure you are treated fairly even if guilty.



    They will be collecting witness statements preparing paperwork and deciding how to proceed.
     
  15. Richie Millions

    Richie Millions New commenter

    Oh and be careful how much you say on here. Do not identify yourself it could raise further issues for you.

    " Bringing the reputation of the school into disrepute by raising internal matters in a public forum."
     
  16. I am so sorry that you find yourself in this position iamspartacus! So much of this advice (while it is all good stuff!) must seem so unhelpful to you now. The deed is done.

    I would shout out at the top of my voice to everyone who works with children, especially in an environment where there are rarely any adult witnesses, JOIN A UNION! The NASUWT have been a great help to me with advice and support, especially if the going got tough!

    Anyway, a HT can bring a Disciplinary action against you without reference to anyone. They do not need to consult Governors or explain themselves to the LEA. Depending on the seriousness of the incident, as I understand it, this stays on your record for a minimum of 6 months and must be declared if you apply for other jobs during this time. If we are talking dismissal, then I assume the Governors would have to be involved, as you are technically employed by them, not the Headteacher.

    It would be of no use for you to resign now, as proceedings regarding an act you committed while in post would still count against you, even if you resigned before they were concluded. Others on this site are welcome to correct me if this isn't so. It seems that you do not deny the fact that you swore at the pupil, so you will just have to throw yourself on their mercy. Please do not try to blame the pupil, as this will make you appear unrepentent and therefore likely to respond the same way in future. Provocation is no excuse in practice because you are the adult and the professional and you are not expected to lose your cool in a tight spot. It is expected you will deal with it. No amount of discussion or argument is ever going to change that expectation.

    DON'T RUSH THEM! Use this time to your advantage. You should get a copy of the Teachers Disciplinary proceedure for your school and find out and plan for all the possible steps. Some steps may be omitted, such as the step from verbal to written warning, if the HT feels the act is sufficiently serious. Do not go into any meeting unprepared! I always take the advice of an old HT who always gave herself a day before replying to confrontational letters or e-mails, or meeting with difficult parents. This is a good idea because you can be calmer and ensure that you don't say anything you regret. If they call on you out of the blue, ask for time to make arrangements for someone to accompany you. Ask an unconnected party to be a witness for you in the meeting. This would, ideally, be your union rep but in the absence of that, a colleague will do. It is tricky to be asked to act in this role, so choose who you ask carefully. They may say no if they feel it would compromise their position at work to be seen to support you. This witness is only there to make sure that everything is heard by someone else, not to support you or condone your actions, so reassure them of this. They only listen, or you might ask them to take minutes of what is said. This is helpful for you to remember exactly what went on later, as stress tends to make you forget! If you feel that you need time to respond to anything they ask you, say so. Your responses should be very carefully thought through, so if you are not confident you can do that off the cuff, then ask your witness to record it and say you would like time to think through your response. Reply in writing as soon as you can, preferably the next day and keep a copy of everything. Above all stay calm, be polite and deferrential but don't be afraid to ask for time or a break in a meeting if things are getting tense.

    Good Luck!
     
  17. No advice iamsparticus just best wishes.



    I hope things go as well as they can.
     
  18. I agree with the last post, but would also like to suggest that you get on the phone and join a teaching union now. No, they won't be able to represent you "after the fact" because the incident happened before you joined, but they will be able to accompany you to any meetings as a witness, and verify that you are being treated fairly in accordance with the correct procedures (obviously if the school are aware you're not in a union they may be tempted to cut corners or behave in a way they might not otherwise).

    I think the SMT have to be reasonable - I mean we all get taken by suprise at some stage and a minor blip in extreme circumstances must be put into perspective. That said you would come accross (to them) in a better light by showing an apologetic side.

    I have never heard of any teacher losing their job for using a swear word. You were not aggressive towards the pupil, you swore as a last resort to jolt the pupil out of his temper and it seemed to bring the incident to a close. I would never condone swearing at a pupil, but now that it's happened the best you can do is assure your school that it will never happen again.
     

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