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Help and advice needed

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by RaleighBurner, Jan 6, 2019.

  1. RaleighBurner

    RaleighBurner New commenter


    Please move if not in the right area.
    I have been put on an informal capability process. Targets have been set but no time limits have been put to them. Since the end of September I have been collecting evidence as I believed this was the best way to show progress.

    What lead up to this and important events

    I am currently Subject Leader of Technology in an independent school - this is my 5th year in the post.

    In November 17 the Technology department was subjected to an independent inspection from an outside agency. As s result of this the department and school were given a number of recommendations to address. I think a sum of 38 points which were formed as targets were to be addressed by me as SL and my colleague (DT teacher) - worth noting we did not have a technician in place and hadn’t for over a year.

    During the the space of half a term a large number of the recommendations had been actioned by me with no support, extra time or resources despite a constant plea for assistance.

    During the completion of the recommendations me and my colleague were subject to a redundancy process. This consisted of being told by HT that due to cost cutting the DT department would run but with one member of staff only. Both myself and my colleague were place on the redundancy process and both of us declared interest in the would be single post ( Subject Lead of DT), a position I already held. During this process neither of us were called for interview but instead, evaluated though what the school called a ‘skills matrix’. A list of criteria that a selected number of SLT rated us from 1-3. Simply who scored more got the post.

    The result was in my favour and my colleague unfortunately faced redundancy.

    Since the 20th September 2018 the school have implemented an informal capability process. Targets have been set but include weekly observations with no notice, work scrutiny and interviews by SLT with KS4 GCSE students. A review meeting has happened 19 November 2018. Evidence was shown that I had collected against each target. Again all this was compiled with no support and was solely my initiative. I am still collecting evidence to show I consistently meet the targets set. The lesson observations have bee rated ‘good with outstanding features ‘ consistently so far. Worth noting that the first lesson observation completed by the deputy head although rated a ‘good’ did take 5 weeks to produce feedback both verbal and written, I have documented this.

    Due to staffing changes mentioned above the DT department is now running classes that are too large (24, recommendations state 20) and combined Y12&13 lessons. I have stated in writing to the HT my concerns and again these have been dismissed (documented). I have no choice but to stop any practical lesson due to H&S of the students and staff.

    After visiting school (Jan 2 2019) I discovered a letter in my pigeon hole dated Jan 4th 2019 - stating my line manager was going to complete an investigation into a parent’s letter about her son’s GSCE work grade. This item had been dealt with in good time by myself( emails documented and phone calls had). All supporting documentation was given to my line manager and a statement from myself given. HT still not satisfied with this is now wanting to proceed with a ‘formal investigation’ and states if there is any ‘failing on my part as Subject Lead’ he will escalate the initial informal capability to formal due to the outcome of this latest investigation. I feel that there are a few issues here that I need advice and support on;

    1. Inadequately supported by the school during the informal stage.

    2. Increased workload/conditions that are stopping me performing my duties.

    3. Bullying tactics.

    4. Processes not being followed set by the school or legally.

    I have informed my Union at the regional office but a meeting is being arrange for me to provide evidence for my ‘Case’ regarding the student GCSE grade. I have copies of all emails sent outlining why he underperformed as well as copies of supporting documents. I am reluctant to have any more formal meetings/ investigations with out representation. I feel the HT is adding things onto the process to force a formal stage implementation. Although I’m coping at the moment it is taken by much of my time and feel that the historical steps are illegal?

    Any help appreciated
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Don't go the meeting without union representation.

    It does sound as if they're hoping to "lose" you and replace you with someone more compliant who will be prepared to run practicals with large classes.
  3. Shedman

    Shedman Star commenter

    To be blunt, it seems as though the school wants you out. They tried by doing the skills matrix thing and making you, the HOD, compete with a member of your department, that undermined you from the start. That hasn't worked so now they're dragging up capability (which doesn't seem to be working either) and investigating a complaint that's already been dealt with.

    With only you left in DT, I suspect the school wants to be rid of the subject to focus on the E-back subjects and probably save some money too as DT is an expensive subject to offer. Whatever happens, it seems that your time at the school is limited. Don't wait to be pushed, start looking for another job now. Were I in your position I would probably be looking for something outside of teaching, creative subjects and especially DT are on the skids in state schools and I speak as being a DT teacher before I retired.
  4. RaleighBurner

    RaleighBurner New commenter

    Surely though the redundancy process was illegal as who ever got the position the role of subject lead was not redundant?

    Employment laws still stand - schools or not?

    I am confident that although it looks like me/ subject I have all documentation to build a solid case and although I might be on limited time, things still need to be done properly.

    So should I now not have any meetings however informal they might be with my line manager, HT or HR until union rep has responded?

    Thanks in advance
    border_walker likes this.
  5. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    Sorry you're in this place. I send sympathetic support. Any advice I can offer is on a pragmatic level rather than a legal level. From your description of things it does look as if your school want to get rid of you, so are treating you nastily. I share your doubts about the legality, but have insufficient expertise.
    I hope some of the more legally aware folk will come and post later.

    I suspect that your days are numbered, even if with legal support you "win" this round, there will be another, so you need to decide where you want life to go for you. Polishing the CV is essential, a measured look at the opportunities currently available compared to what you hope for from a career, alongside an audit of your own skills and enthusiasms.
    As @Shedman says, DT in schools is at a low state of affairs, which appalling, and governmentally irresponsible. It may be you need to look outside the sector you work in.
    Good luck, stay calm, be patient. Just because one school doesn't like you, doesn't mean there aren't other opportunities.

    SEBREGIS Lead commenter

    Contact your union straight away. Make sure management know this is not just ‘checking in’ but that you are making this a serious complaint about their behaviour. It’s not defensive, it’s aggressive.

    Do not attend any meetings without representation.If you are in the urinals and someone from SLT walks in, leave.

    I would agree with other posters here. It looks like the school wants you out and is using capability as a way of encouraging you to go. One of the fastest ways of ensuring a teacher can be proven to underperform is to ‘support them’. I know of one case where a teacher was felt to be underperforming because they were being given support... yup, figure the logic on that.

    Be prepared to fight your corner, and watch your back.

    But seriously - do you actually want to work for them any more? Wouldn’t you rather let the baby have its bottle, while you find a better working environment? If you are right, it’s their loss.

    God but I hate schools that do this...
  7. RaleighBurner

    RaleighBurner New commenter

    I have read that my union will look for an exit strategy. A good reference and some sort of pay out? What is this likely to be? I only ask as I have a family and bills (like most) and need to form a plan best for me now really. What would the time frame be for the entire process?
  8. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    But the role of head of department in terms of managing another teacher, etc did come to an end. The process you describe isn't unusual in such cases.
    Of course.
  9. RaleighBurner

    RaleighBurner New commenter

    Additionally though I do still manage staff as of September 18, a new technician ( thank goodness-he’s very good). And they have put another existing member of staff who teaches PE in for 3 KS3 classes. He has no DT teaching experience for DT.

    This is to cover the lessons that don’t physically fit onto my time table.
  10. TEA2111

    TEA2111 Established commenter

    As @phlogiston says, "
    I suspect that your days are numbered, even if with legal support you "win" this round, there will be another, so you need to decide where you want life to go for you"... I agree with is 'pragmatic' advice.
    Being in a similar position at the moment, I have learnt that there is NO justice and NO recourse for the innocent, powerless, hard working teacher. Heads and SMT will get away with bullying, aggressive tactic as there's not a lot that we can do about it, but to protect ourselves which ultimately let's SMTs get their way. The union can advise, but at the end of the day you have to fight your own cause. As much as it is unfair and unjust, it is reality.

    I thought belonging to a union offered me protection, but now I'm not so sure. Yes, they have guided me through the process to some extent, but my Head is still going to get away with her unprofessional, bullying behaviour as there is no accountability if the governing body/ H.R. and Head are all pals. She has not even followed protocol during a procedure ( which my union says I need to make a grievance about), but which I know will come to nought, so won't. And that, unfortunately, is the way things are.

    Best of luck @RaleighBurner … I feel for you and all the other teachers that are being unjustly targeted.
  11. Progressnerd

    Progressnerd Occasional commenter

    You can't ever 'win' capability of any kind at a school. The only way to conclude it with your mental health and job prospects in tact is to leave for another job or resign with an agreed reference. That's the sad and ultimate truth.
    agathamorse and hfromh like this.
  12. FredfromFrance

    FredfromFrance New commenter

    keep fighting so that you can at least end up with a bit of cash in the form of an SA
    agathamorse likes this.

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