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Headteacher references

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Gratzia, Nov 28, 2019.

  1. Gratzia

    Gratzia New commenter

    Can you request to see your references after you've had an interview?
    The request would be to the LEA.
    whatsabunny likes this.
  2. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

  3. install

    install Star commenter

    You can request to see them but you might not get them.
    jlishman2158 and grumpydogwoman like this.
  4. longitude

    longitude New commenter

    As has been pointed out above, there may be no legal right to see your reference but it is possible that a policy has been agreed with the employer (local authority) which allows for this to happen.
    install and grumpydogwoman like this.
  5. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Yes, if you don't ask you won't get, so nothing to be lost by asking.

    I'm unclear though why OP would be asking the LA. It appears to be a reference written by a headteacher - presumably OP's current or previous head - so it's unlikely the LA would have it. Unless OP was applying for a job with an LA and the LA was the recipient of the head's reference.
  6. missmunchie

    missmunchie Occasional commenter

    My friend and ex-colleague requested references from her former head after changes in gdpr. She did get a copy of her reference. Schools have to give you any information they hold about you. Worth a try.
  7. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Untrue. References are specifically excluded from that requirement.
  8. nomad

    nomad Star commenter

    Under the Data Protection Act 1998, references given by an organisation were exempt from disclosure on receipt of a subject access request (SAR).

    The exemption only applied to references given by the organisation. This meant that the exemption could only be used by the provider of the reference, and not a recipient.

    The Data Protection Act 2018 has removed this distinction so that any reference provided in confidence is exempt from disclosure under a SAR. This means that if an organisation receives a subject access request, confidential employment references about the individual making the request, whether created by that organisation or received from a third party, will be exempt from disclosure.
    TheoGriff, annascience2012 and IanG like this.
  9. missmunchie

    missmunchie Occasional commenter

    Mmm, maybe it is different in Spain. I do know my colleague asked for and was given a copy of a reference made about them. This was shortly after gdpr changes so maybe the school was unclear of current guidelines.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    They aren't guidelines, they are entitlements.
    ie if they want to provide the references on request they can, but they are equally entitled to refuse and that is even on on receipt of a formal access request.
    I the case of your colleague they decided to think nothing of such a request. Many personable Head Teachers would provide a copy of the reference as an innocuous way to assist an ex employer, but some schools have actually made a policy out of saying "no" every time, because the gdpr changes allow it. Because they can.
    Or maybe as an ominous precaution.
  11. celago22

    celago22 Established commenter

    I managed to obtain a copy of my reference from the school that received it. It's worth asking.
    jlishman2158 and install like this.
  12. nomad

    nomad Star commenter


    As a HT I always shared references with leaving staff, giving them an opportunity to suggest some details which may help their application but also making it clear that what I had written would stand. Fortunately in most cases everything I had written was positive.

    That said, all experienced HTs are aware of the subtle clues in an employment reference.

    "Mr W considers himself to be a hard working and dedicated..." does not mean that he is, and generally means he isn't. I'm stuck with him for another year!

    "I should like to recommend Miss X for the post of..." means I can't fully do so. Ring me before appointing!

    "I can recommend without reservation Mrs Y's application for..." means go ahead and appoint.

    One of the best references I read said, "Mr Z is keen to advance his career and take on a senior leadership role [note the absence of "responsibilities"]. I hope he gets what he deserves."
    Last edited: Dec 1, 2019
    TheoGriff, Pomza and sbkrobson like this.
  13. HolyMahogany

    HolyMahogany Senior commenter

    I had a colleague who had received very good references from all of their previous schools, and when they left us the HT gave them a glowing reference. What it actually meant was 'this person is an appalling trouble maker and bully, and we are desperate to get rid of them'
    Sometimes it floats.
  14. Skeoch

    Skeoch Star commenter

    In the very old days a reference would begin, "Mr Applicant is honest, sober and punctual." Omission of any of these would have implications, but would not state outright what was amiss.
    caterpillartobutterfly and nomad like this.
  15. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Not all references require you to read between the lines. We once received one (for a DHT applying to be a Head) where his current Head had written "Mr X is wholly unsuited for Headship and I recommend that you do not appoint him" ! That was the whole reference.
  16. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    A good example of why references should only be looked at (or even taken up ) after interviews and after the decision on who to appoint. In this case the HT has given a reference for a post not applied for, with no evidence. He (she?) sounds like some of the worst HTs we read about on this forum.
  17. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    It was a reference for the post applied for. And we (the selection panel) didn't read it until after we had come to our own conclusion from the candidate's performance at interview (per our normal practice). The reference confirmed the conclusion we had independently reached!
  18. frankxwilliams

    frankxwilliams New commenter

    I'm genuinely puzzled why any employer should have exemption to being made to disclose a reference.
    All it does is encourage awful employers to write false statements which now under GDPR cannot be found out by simply asking the recipient of the reference.

    I have had a false reference previously which cost me a job so I can speak, regrettably, with some experience on this point. I only found out after requesting from the potential employer but by then the damage was done and I went months without a full time job, costing me and my family untold difficulties.

    There is legitimately no reason other than sheer spite or grand delusions of power for any employer not to share a reference with a current or ex-employee.
    drek likes this.
  19. missmunchie

    missmunchie Occasional commenter

    Interesting point. The friend I mentioned also lost out on a job due to a negative reference. Hence why they requested a copy of it.
  20. drek

    drek Star commenter

    My last two employers kindly gave me a photocopies of my reference. That was before teaching. One was a financial director of a multi billion corporation. The other was the director of his own company.

    Only in the cut throat world of education where teachers have to work in a minefield of oppositional policies, constantly changing political agendas, OFSTEd money grabbing headlines and bumbling dfe and SLT corrupted actions pass off as outstanding ‘leadership’.

    A whole teaching career boils down to the word of two ‘leaders’ and these people may have worked for about two minutes in their role.....compared to your lifetime as ‘only’ a teacher...one of the most disrespected professions in the country.

    Teaching references must be kept in a secret vault and escape gdpr? Bet Ian Fleming could not have made spying much more exciting......
    install, Weald56 and agathamorse like this.

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