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Have you ever had your department put in a complaint against your through their union?

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by September, Jan 30, 2011.

  1. September

    September New commenter

    This has happened to my twice now in the same school. My headteacher was fully supportive of my ther first time and is also supporting me this time. Every year someone in my department feels aggrieved about issues that I cannot control eg pay and TLRs', marking. They then get together and the momentum takes over and a list of complaints is put together. I have had discussions with my union and am going to respond to all the complaints. Some members of my team have told me that they do not have any concerns, however the complaint clearly lists that all the department stand by the complaints. I am a tough cookie and believe that this experience will only make me a stronger person. Why is it that people always try to blame others for things out of their control. If a member of staff is not happy about what they are being paid I have advised them to put forward a case to the headteacher and arrange to meet with them about it. Staff in my dept do not mark their books regularly so when they know that it is going to be checked up on they find that they have loads of marking to do and then blame me for it. It seems that I am an easy target for my team and they vent their disappointment and frusturation out on my about things which are expected of them in their day to day jobs. I know that a lot of things could be dealt with if the school dealt with issues like regular absences, regular lateness, staff not marking books etc rather than me having to defend myself against what is expected of me in my job.Help!!!
     
  2. September

    September New commenter

    This has happened to my twice now in the same school. My headteacher was fully supportive of my ther first time and is also supporting me this time. Every year someone in my department feels aggrieved about issues that I cannot control eg pay and TLRs', marking. They then get together and the momentum takes over and a list of complaints is put together. I have had discussions with my union and am going to respond to all the complaints. Some members of my team have told me that they do not have any concerns, however the complaint clearly lists that all the department stand by the complaints. I am a tough cookie and believe that this experience will only make me a stronger person. Why is it that people always try to blame others for things out of their control. If a member of staff is not happy about what they are being paid I have advised them to put forward a case to the headteacher and arrange to meet with them about it. Staff in my dept do not mark their books regularly so when they know that it is going to be checked up on they find that they have loads of marking to do and then blame me for it. It seems that I am an easy target for my team and they vent their disappointment and frusturation out on my about things which are expected of them in their day to day jobs. I know that a lot of things could be dealt with if the school dealt with issues like regular absences, regular lateness, staff not marking books etc rather than me having to defend myself against what is expected of me in my job.Help!!!
     
  3. Sounds like an uphill struggle for you. However, coming to work on time and marking books are the minimum you should expect, so stick to your guns! Make sure you are professional at all times because mud can stick.
     
  4. September

    September New commenter

    There are many many staff outside of my department who do no understand why the head has not dealt with some of the issues. People outside of my department are very supportive of me. The team had a cushy life of not really doing much before I got there. They bitched about the last head of department and now I am their target. I am going to stick to my guns. Thanks for the advice.
     
  5. September,
    I am glad that you are keen to stick to your guns. It can often be easier said than done, especially when you are in the thick of it. I have had similar complaints made against me as a HoD. They are usually about broad whole school issues, but end up being directly targeted at me. This is because I am the accessible authority figure that they can 'get at', which you have probably concluded yourself. You sound like you have a good Head to support you who can see how hard you work and professional you are. Keep your chin up and good luck!
     
  6. MarkS

    MarkS New commenter

    Hi there,
    Sounds like a difficult situation, but I'd make sure that you can state the following things:
    (1) That you are an exemplar of good practice. Make sure your books are marked exactly to school policy; that you are prompt and punctual for everything; that your coursework is marked/annotated/filed in an exemplary fashion. I'm not suggesting that this isn't the case, but you must make sure you aren't a 'do as I say, not as I do' kind of HoD.
    (2) That everyone is really clear on what is expected of them. Do you have a Department Handbook that contains your policies on day to day things? Don't leave any excuses for people.
    (3) Try to make it clear that you too are a class teacher, not just a manager, and that you want to work as part of a team.
    Not easy I know, but would make the foundations of a good team.
    Mark
     
  7. September

    September New commenter

    I practice what I preach, books marked up to date, homeworks marked and returned next lesson. I have been told by others that they cannot keep up with me. They expect me to be as slapdash as they are and then I be they would not put in complaints against me.
     
  8. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    You do need a certain amount of understanding though... Like not expecting everyone to return the homework and essays the next day just because you do. I'm not suggesting you are, in fact from your posts I'm really on your side there, but just be aware that there are different degrees of hard work and having a life is or should be a priority. I think returning work within a week is a fair deadline which everyone can work too.
    Have you tried doing a department audit? Pupil online questionaires (with questions that aren't leading), regular book surveys which you announce beforehand so it's not a nasty surprise, etc. You'll get a fair overview of what's going on and then you can present it to your colleagues and give them bite-size targets. One at a time - I hate when I feel like no matter what I do, there is always something else my line-manager is unhappy about!
     
  9. noemie

    noemie Occasional commenter

    *work to
     
  10. I think if everyone in the department is standing by the written complaint (even if they won't say it to your face) then there is a problem. It may be that they are slacking off, or not meeting your standards BUT an unhappy department are more likely to work less, be ill more and gripe about silly things. As HOD it is our job to not only manage people but to lead people, it seems to me that you need to pull your team together and give them some positivity and motivation. Do not dismiss their complaint out of hand (although it obviously feels unfair to you), or counter each of their complaints with one of your own, this will not go well. Try to find a mediator, someone who has no axe to grind and reach compromises. If you show that you value their complaints and opinions you may be able to win them round.
     
  11. September

    September New commenter

    I take on board your comments. There are members who have openly stated to me that they do not stand by all the complaints, one member even said she had only one concern and that has been dealt with. Most members are easily led by the ringleaders. The team were unhappy under their last HOD. The list has been reviewed by my union and my rep at school and their response to the way it has been written is that a lot of the content can be construed as bullying towards me. I am staying strong and have the support of my head. A lot of them need to reconsider their own positions. Some teachers do get stagnant at a school, they do not want to go forward with school improvement but do not want to leave the school that they find so cushy. It's a difficult situation but recent and upcoming lesson observations (not undertaken by me ) will sort some of them out to reflect on their own practice. I will keep the forum updated on progress
     
  12. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    Do bear in mind that what they say to your face may not be what they really think. If they feel cornered by, or awkward around, you they may feel it better to be sugary towards you on an individual basis. They may agree with the complaints but not want to say them to your face. Kind of understandable when things like "a lot of them need to reconsider their own positions" are being said (however legitimately).
     
  13. September

    September New commenter

    Feedback done to my team. No responses from the team that raised the complaint. A few embarrassed members in the meeting. They realised that some of the items raised should never have been raised as it has now higlighted the side of their own practice which is unacceptable. I thought I would feel smug after delivering the feedback but I actually felt quite sorry for some of them. Why they allowed a couple of people to stir them up to do this is a mystery. Case closed but I would not wish what I have experienced on anyone. It was an unpleasant situation to be in. THE END
     
  14. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    Should it not be "with" rather than "to".
    Really? Great leadership quality!
    I wouldn't be too sure. These things rarely go away forever.



     
  15. Feedback done? Are you sure you allowed them room/opportunity to respond? You need to create a cohesive and motivated team to get the best from them , THAT is your job as a leader.
     
  16. September

    September New commenter

    How do you create a cohesive and motivated team when all they are motivated to do is attack me. The issues raised by them have all been responded to and there has been a lot of embarrassment on their part as they have acknowledged that they made a lot of assumptions about decisions taken at my school as being my decisions when they were leadership decisions. They do have every right to re-raise the issues with the boss.
     
  17. Karvol

    Karvol Occasional commenter

    Don't forget the goal of all of this - to better the education of the children entrusted to your care. If, despite all the provisions put into place to enable weaker members of staff to improve in areas that are a cause for concern, no improvement takes place then the remit of a leader also includes that of making the decision to seek new members of staff who are capable of teaching and working to the required standard.
    It is never an easy, or a pleasant decision to make, and it may leave resentment amongst some members of staff but if you are going to create a department in the way that you see fit then you have to be willing to go the whole way.
     
  18. September

    September New commenter

    I truly agree with you about the goal to better the education of the children but it is really difficult working with a team of staff who do nothing but complain about that is expected of them as a teacher. I am aware that a few ringleaders can "inspire" others to join in and create a very negative atmostphere and sadly as the leadership do not intervene for fear of unions this may well not be the school that I should be working in. I am more than happy to pursue seeking new staff and their contracts do state that "the employer may terminate the agreement by giving notice of x months but how many schools take advantage of this. That decision needs to be done by the headteacher, however it is an avenue that I am going to look into.
    I appreciate all the comments given. This experience has not been a pleasant one for me but it has highlighted the barriers and obstacles that subject leaders face on a regular basis. Having a good leadership team at the top of the school would help with matters like this but they avoid difficult situations like the plague. They want to be seen as the nice guys and the subject leaders in my school are expected to deal with the difficulties and are seen as the bad guys. The ones who are going to suffer the most is the children and they should not be the ones to suffer for the sake of a minority of teachers who do not want to do their jobs. I will continue to stand up for what is best for the children. Wish me luck!
     
  19. Crowbob

    Crowbob Established commenter

    There is more to a dismissal than giving notice. If you do so, be expected to justify your decision. It would be hard to go down this route and not be accused of unfair dismissal if you give notice off the back of a complaint.
    Anyway, I wish you the best for the future and hope the situation improves! Do keep us informed.
     
  20. bigfatgit

    bigfatgit New commenter

    If it was a formal complaint, then surely everyone who "agreed" with the letter of complaint would have signed it?
    It sounds a bit like those letters that you get that says, something like, "and all the other parents agree with me"
    As far as I am concerned, the people signing the letter are the ones who you need to deal with.
    We had an incident where one teacher complained about a senior member of staff but stated that they were writing on "behalf of all teachers of grades 2-4" When the teachers were spoken to, they genuinely didn't have a clue what was going on. The whole thing was caused by a perceived slight by the senior teacher and proved to be very disruptive in the whole school, never mind in that specific section
     

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