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Help me

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Teeacher12345, Nov 26, 2019.

  1. Teeacher12345

    Teeacher12345 New commenter

    I have been suffering with workplace stress and anxiety for a year, work load is very high in my school and made worse by being a small department. I did unpaid TLR last year under the guise of “#training “ for the role; since September I have since been paid for this. However over October half term I had a real breakdown with my partner where I realised this school was breaking me, the hour commute was too much and I was crying every day.
    So I made the decision to look elsewhere to another school before I left teaching completely , a decision I’ve been scared to make as it’s very much frowned upon at my school to leave and it is well known you “get punished” with extra cover, duties and changes in timetable if you do leave. I found a school and over my two week half term I applied and interviewed and was offered the new job. In my contract it states “three calendar months notice terminating at the end of term” I originally took this as three months so gave three months notice from 30th October. I obviously now understand that it needs to be me leaving at the end of term.
    The school are stating (after an informal meeting with HR where I was told I was letting everyone down, affecting the kids mental health and going against teacher standards while I cried) that I couldn’t leave until Easter. I explained that my reasons for leaving was due to mental health reasons to which I was told that would not be taken into consideration in terms of releasing me earlier from my contract. I have asked the union to help and got no further and have now involved a lawyer to state where it is defined in the contract as end of term when the website for the school states there is 6 terms in a year so therefore would be reasonable to allow me to leave at end of feb term.
    They’ve disputed this by saying everyone knows there is 3 terms, but I feel this should have been made clear in my contract as it already goes against the burgundy book so this didn’t provide me with any clarity as to the appropriate date to leave.

    This whole situation has severely affected my health and has been continuing for 4 weeks now, with uncertainty as to whether I can leave and take my new job. I have not been sleeping, eating properly, I cry throughout the school day and when I get home and last week I even started to imagine having a car crash on the way to work so I had an excuse to not be there. Obviously this has lead me to go to the doctors and be signed off with WRS and depression which is the last thing I wanted to do as I wanted to work my notice properly and say goodbye to the kids and staff and leave my gcse cohort with enough revision materials from me.
    I am heartbroken and feel hopeless with the situation and can’t cope with the thought of going back and having to work there until April. I’m worried about losing my new job also as cannot afford to not have one (like most people) , I know if I leave early I am in breach of contract but not sure on what to do.

    I have had some really hopeless thoughts and I am scared of the thought of being sued but I can’t work there until then given how they’ve treated me with such a lack of care for my own mental health too.

    has anyone ever experience this sort of thing before? Can anyone offer any advice?
    I feel so alone and helpless and can’t see a way out of this.
  2. sabrinakat

    sabrinakat Star commenter

    Big hugs, first of all.

    TBH, I would just leave. Speak to your GP and continue to be signed off. There are many other more experienced tessers who will give you lots of advice in the morning but your desperation really concerned me. It's just a job - YOU are much more important than any school.

    Please know that you can get out of this - and things WILL get better. You shouldn't ever think of crashing your car to escape (but I have been there, walking to the door in tears). Please, please, please use your time off to de-stress and SPEAK TO SOMEONE HIGHER IN THE UNION.

    Again, hugs....
  3. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    First of all, sorry you're in this position.
    Most schools accept a certain amount of staff turnover. Is it so horrible there that they need contractual handcuffs?
    That's a bit much for most school based workplaces.
    It's one of those odd things. Some schools do like non tripartite numbers of terms.
    February is an odd time to start or finish a job, but you have a strong case if the school website has a term finishing then.

    I would take time to recover. You would not go in if you had flu or another pathogen caused disease.

    Take union advice. I have never seen a news report of a successful (or unsuccessful) law suit against someone who leaves against contractual terms. I have read of malicious claims of capability, "safeguarding offences" and altered references. This is where more quiet union advice might pre-empt such nastiness.
    Good luck
    Dorsetdreams and agathamorse like this.
  4. Nofuture

    Nofuture New commenter

    My heart goes out to you.
    After a total mauling yesterday during feedback with some extreme implications being made about my professional practice..and having recently spoken to my doctor about wrs over another recent misrepresentation about me.. not to mention my breakdown last Easter over workload...here I sit, not having slept, weighing up the pros and cons of taking today off to see my doctor.... I’ve got to call school soon or get dressed in the next few minutes to go....I need help too!
    Sorry not any help to you but I feel your reality. x
    Daveh1981, Teeacher12345 and Marshall like this.
  5. starlightexpress

    starlightexpress Occasional commenter

    I’d say it’s clear in your contract. It sounds more in line with HT notice periods. I guess they’re not wanting the typical October 31st for December 31st notice periods.

    It’s clear you’re not going to be able to be released earlier.

    So it’s:
    -check new school are clear on your notice and are prepared to wait;
    -consider if you’ll be present in school for your notice period or off work ill.

    If you left, you would be in breach of contract. However, whether the school would pursue this is another thing. If you’re not going to be present, they’ll need to pay to cover you and pay you, so might consider early release in those circumstances.

    The thing is you signed the terms of your contract and have referred to ideally wishing to work your notice. That would drive me in terms of personal and professional integrity. An alternative, regardless of reasons behind it, is not the best ‘ending’. It might not be easy but I do feel it’s ‘right.’ I say this as someone who has worked a long notice period in challenging circumstances- it was tough and not without personal impact, however I maintained my professionalism.
  6. Outdoorman

    Outdoorman New commenter

    I really feel for you but try not to worry I know from experience that it is best for both parties to reach a mutual agreement. However, as the school appear not to want you to leave take that as a good positive sign that they value your work.

    However, and its a big however, continue down the route that you are going and leave at the the end of term in Feb. They have put 6 terms on their web site so its only reasonable for you to assume that this is FACT. Also most other schools you only have to give notice based on certain dates so in our school had someone put in their notice (and they did) 30th October then they would have to be released at Christmas.

    You have handed your notice in so there is nothing now that you need to do. Just remind the the school by talking to either the Head or your Head or Department and remind them by verbal means that you are leaving but make a note in your diary where & when you did it or by email if you feel that you cannot meet with them. Just say this is a gentle reminder that I will be leaving at the end of school term in Feb and will not be returning.

    Then have no further communication with them about it and leave in Feb.
    Teeacher12345 likes this.
  7. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You're ill. You will be getting a sick note.

    Disappointed with the union. If they got their act together they could threaten the school with all sorts of things and thus effect a deal whereby you got out early. They only need put the wind up the school and the school needs to see you'll be off sick and complaining liberally to the health authorities anyway and they'll soon realise it's easier to let you go.

    You probably haven't pushed the union enough. Totally understandable. You're at your wits' end. But do try again. I'd be getting you outta there.

    But don't go to work. You're not safe.
  8. shevington

    shevington Occasional commenter

    Speak to your Union at your local Regional Centre( details will be on their web site). There may be a national help line number for you to ring. School reps are no good in these situations and should immediately pass the Case to those who have been trained.

    You should stay off work until you leave. Dot not attend any meetings without Union representation. You may be in no fit state to go to such meetings. Request the Union to handle any communications from the school.

    Remember many schools are now running a business and many do not care about the welfare of their staff.
  9. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Make sure you're dealing with your Union at District/Regional level, not just the school rep.

    The school could release you from your contract tomorrow if it was in their interest to do so, and they know it. Your Union's regional rep will know it too.

    I entertained dark thoughts about if I'd be really missed if something nasty happened to me when I was at rock bottom in my job, but that's all it ever was - dark thoughts. I left that job and its bullying culture, found others, and ten years down the line I'm still here and I'm completely happy that I took that decision, which at the time was a tough one to make.

    There is most definitely a way out of this that keeps you safe and leaves you happier, but it may take a little longer to find it.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  10. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    This leaps out at me.
    These sorts of words I expect to hear from somebody who is being abused in the home and participates in this continuing because of the fear that is purposefully nurtured by the abuser.

    To hear this of somebody in the context of employment is shocking. You are in a professional role and your boss has a duty to support you not only in your current role but also in your career progression if they can.
    This duty is not contractual or legal. It is moral and professional.

    You need out. You deserve to be treated morally and professionally.

    It's like a cult. An abusive cult.
  11. Weald56

    Weald56 Established commenter

    Excellent points made above - your school is not a safe place to work, in my opinion (not just for you, either). You are not well.

    See your GP & get signed off, change your phone number/email address (and don't tell your school), do contact your Union and your new school. Do not go back, or contact your current school.

    And look after yourself first & foremost!
  12. Teeacher12345

    Teeacher12345 New commenter

    So sorry to hear about your situation too. I don’t believe anyone should be treated like this, we do what we do for the kids but that doesn’t mean we are awful people for leaving or not being able to give 250% all day every day.
    I hope you went to the doctor, and I hope you feel better soon
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  13. Teeacher12345

    Teeacher12345 New commenter

    I had a regional rep and case worker who spoke to them but when they still said no, told me that there was nothing else to do as I would be in breach. When I questioned what date specifically they wanted my union rep said “that it should be something I discuss myself with the school” despite the fact after the first meeting I was so upset I no longer wanted to discuss anything with the school and was under the impression I didn’t have to. since I’ve got legal advice the union have now told me they will no longer represent me as it goes against the clauses in their contract, I did this feeling completely let down by the union and felt i had to look for alternative advice and try to find someone who was willing to actually fight for me rather than what it felt like which was: they asked nicely, my school said no and that was the end of it.
  14. Teeacher12345

    Teeacher12345 New commenter

    I’ve never seen a more apt description, it’s taken me two years to get the courage to leave, and now when I have I’m told I’m unprofessional, ruined their “financial plan for the next two years”. I think it’s scary schools feel they can behave like this when all I want to do is leave to protect my mental health
  15. Teeacher12345

    Teeacher12345 New commenter

    Thank you for taking the time to be kind I appreciate it.
  16. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    This would be the ideal state of affairs. Some people, perhaps the slt here, may not leave well alone.
    Take a look at the jobs pages in the TES. Even the best school in the country has vacancies from staff turnover. It's a pretty rubbish financial plan that doesn't take account of staff leaving.
    I hope you can find a way forwards.
  17. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    You have spoken to your school and told them that you want to leave early for MH reasons but they will not let you. They really are sailing close to the wind on this one. They have a duty of care towards you and by not releasing you they are causing your MH to deteriorate.
    You could go back to your Union and ask them to negotiate an early release with your school. After all they're not going to want to have to pay someone off sick until April so they will likely be willing to allow you an early exit.
    If they refuse an early exit then in your position I would just resign with immediate effect due to health reasons. The school are very unlikely to sue you due to the cost of doing so and the fact that they have a duty of care to your MH.
    It sounds like a horrible place to work and you are best off out of it. It is an awful way to treat someone.
    Weald56 and bonxie like this.
  18. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    Staying in the situation you're currently in is not going to do your mental health any good. Please go to see your doctor as soon as possible. You should then be signed off work for mental health reasons. The school may then start to realise that it's not in their best interests to prevent you from leaving. It'll cost them more money to pay you to be off sick and pay for cover as well than it will just to let you go and take on a new member of staff. Once they look at the finances, they may be more inclined to let you leave sooner rather than later.
    agathamorse and grumpydogwoman like this.
  19. MissGeorgi

    MissGeorgi Occasional commenter

    Sorry, and angry, that you are caught up in what seems like an absolute cesspit of a “school”. I worked at a school like that in Rugby, HT tried to fob me off with something similar, but she was fired the following year. Stupid cow!
    I’d be so tempted to name and shame on here, once you’ve left. Schools couldn’t behave like that if they knew it got them a reputation.
    agathamorse and bonxie like this.
  20. SCAW12

    SCAW12 Occasional commenter

    This sounds so familiar. You need to take back control. The school do not control you. Some fantastic advice above. It is just a job. You are not your job. Take back control. Be happy. Good luck x
    agathamorse and Teeacher12345 like this.

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