1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded education professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Help - Previous employer still ruining life!

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by steph72, Jan 25, 2020.

  1. steph72

    steph72 New commenter

    Hi. I am having a serious problem with my old school. I left after various problems with a settlement agreement including an agreed reference. But the head is simply refusing to give it when requested. I have discovered he has been doing this for 3 years! I can’t get another job because anything education wants this reference.
    What can I do?
  2. thebookyouwish

    thebookyouwish New commenter

    Contact your union.
  3. TrueFaith

    TrueFaith Occasional commenter

    If you have an agreed reference, and the head is refusing to supply this, you need to speak to your union. Urgently!
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    What have you been doing for three years?
    The head concerned is probably refusing to give it now, because it has been such a long time since they knew you, they feel it isn't relevant anymore.
    You or your union will need to let them know that the reference is valid (as you haven't worked with children since you left them) and essential to moving on.
  5. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    You need to be careful what you wish for here.
    You may have agree a fixed reference in the form of some sort of letter or written paragraph, but a request for a reference is often accompanied by a form to fill in with some yes/no questions. So whilst they may like to submit the agreed letter, they may also be confronted with the question "would you employ this person again". What are they supposed to do if they think "no"? Which presumably is true given that you left under the circumstance of needing to agree a reference.
    If you consider the thought processes accompanying the request to answer this question, you can see how easy it is for a HT to decide to simply not respond.
    And if you press the point, then sure, they can send the agreed reference, but they can also answer "no" to the question. It is, in effect, the same as a poor reference, and you will have insisted on them sending it.
    It may be easier to ask a new prospective employer if they may consider contacting the HR person instead, to confirm the dates you worked there and that no referrals were made, and also supplying an additional referee going further back in time.
    This is doable and sometimes acceptable. It depends who you want to work for. You said "education related" not "school", so it's worth considering.
    Marshall and Bentley89 like this.
  6. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I don’t think the OP is implying it was 3 years ago.
    Union of course in first instance. Otherwise be upfront on application then schools will understand if a reference is not forthcoming (although the agreed one should be.)
    IMO it should be illegal to not provide a reference when requested with stiff punishment for offenders as this issue can wreck careers.
    Marshall, agathamorse and Curae like this.
  7. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Nope, I think they are stating it quite clearly.
    Pomza likes this.
  8. BreakEven

    BreakEven New commenter

    I don't know if this is me, but the way I understood what they said is they've been applying for jobs for 3 years - used that head as a reference each time and just presumed they had not heard back for some reason relating to their application but has now found out the reason they have not been successful 3 years later is due to the head refusing to provide reference? or am I missing the point?
  9. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    I thought so too, but then did wonder how you could possibly establish this as a fact.
    Marshall likes this.
  10. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    But as many teachers might spend well over 3 years in a school/raising children/looking after family/doing another job/anything else, surely it isn't uncommon for a teacher to request a reference from his/her last head (or any HT she's had in the past, for that matter) even if she hasn't seen/worked for him for a decade or more? As teaching posts usually insist on a ref from your last HT, there must be lots of people who need one. When I returned to teaching after some time away, several of my HTs had retired, but the school/colleague was presumably able to ref whatever they had on file? I have never heard of a head refusing to give a refernce after such a short period-unless you change posts every couple of years, yo could only ever ask your present head for a reference, and you usually want to give at least two refs!
    agathamorse likes this.
  11. letap

    letap Occasional commenter

    Apart from the obvious contact the union. It is a concern that I have that a head in this instance has far too much power. In a scenario where a teacher leaves under disputed circumstances they become reliant on the reference of someone who is not likely to be objective.
  12. BreakEven

    BreakEven New commenter

    In some parts I agree but in order to ensure that you haven't darted off due to a safeguarding matter or etc, it is right that the next employer gets information from your previous/current. If you then left for a reason that isn't safeguarding and just a disagreement - then the head should display these facts and let the next employer decide.

    I just don't think there is a right/wrong in this. If you didn't include current/past employer within your reference, then something someone does may not be reported to the next employer. Whereas if we require it, then you have a stalemate like this.

    I suppose it is also why it's best ipractice to ask for a few references during recruitment too.
  13. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    That's what I understood as well, hence asking what they have been doing for three years. Clearly nothing that involves working with children or they'd have needed this reference and the lack of it would have come to light much sooner.
    So not getting posts now, could be to do with being out of related work for three years rather than the reference.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Hence the idea of an agreed reference...it's not unique to teaching.
  15. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    All the 'Agreed Reference' clauses in Settlement Agreements I've seen not only say what the reference will be but commit the school to providing it when asked. So not providing the reference is potentially a breach of the SA by the school which could allow you to recover damages in the courts if it has caused you financial loss (eg not being shortlisted for jobs)

    That's hypothetical speculation by me of course, I don't know exactly what's happened, so get professional advice from union or solicitor asap.
  16. BreakEven

    BreakEven New commenter

    That makes sense.

    But surly that would only apply if the head hasn't heard from them in 3 years and then next minute a reference request appears. I just don't think it answers why he would initially refuse (if he's been asked for references over the period of time of 3 years), surly it's only that long now because he has kept refusing?

    Obviously I can't presume but just trying to understand whats being asked by the OP.
  17. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Refusing to give a reference is not the same as simply not responding.
    The only way the OP can have established the former is either by being told this by a potential employer or by speaking to the HT themselves.
    My feeling is that the HT has simply not responded to reference requests. It is not unheard of.
    So OP just needs to contact them and query it.
    Or hassle somebody else in the building to nudge the HT into action eg their PR.
    It's not going to be at the top of their to do list if the request if for somebody who was there three years ago, and especially if it somebody who has not contacted them in advance of the request as a basic courtesy.
    Who knows. Not much to go on in the OP...
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    But if that were the case then surely the OP would have queried it much sooner?

    I dunno....no idea what's going on now.
    I thought it was clear, but then everyone else keeps posting alternative interpretations, which all make sense. Now I'm confused.
    Hope the OP comes back at some point to explain.
    BreakEven likes this.
  19. BreakEven

    BreakEven New commenter

    That's true, unless they didn't know and have only found out now? Godknows :(

    Wheres the OP when you need one.
  20. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Which would be odd because a prospective employer would generally say something like 'I'm so sorry but we can't appoint you without a reference from your most recent employer. You were fab, but we need that reference. Can you chase them?'

Share This Page