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Horrendous guilt being signed off WRS

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by ElizabethElizabeth1, Nov 9, 2018.

  1. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

    Sorry for the SUPER long post. Im searching for solidarity whilst torturing myself for being off with WRS.

    Background: I moved from secondary to primary in Jan. This year I’m heavily pregnant. At a routine check up I mentioned my working hours & how I felt- I got signed off with WRS unexpectedly being told I was suffering severe reactions to stress/panic attacks (struggling to breathe, pins & needles, night terrors, chest pains, inability to focus on any tv/books etc).

    I’ve always taken pride in my efficiency. I rarely had to take work home in the past, didn’t work late apart from obvious times of year & I had extra roles/responsibilities.

    This is the least amount of responsibility I’ve had in 7 years but I’ve never worked harder. I do 7.30-5pm easy without breaks. I’ve had a slapped wrist from the head for being caught leaving before 5 or ‘early’ despite there being nothing in my contract about that. They don’t force you to work through break but with 120 books to mark daily (minimum 60 with eng/maths), prep/planning, twilight meetings & data/extra requests- everyone does it. It’s very lonely. Also it’s clearly expected. I was told that when I come back I could miss any twilight meetings addressing next year (when I’m on maternity) but may want to come if I ‘got a set of books done at lunch’. We have to do intervention groups in every assembly slot so I’ve lost that 20mins. Our PPA is on 1 afternoon but by the time we’re done meeting with the team, we get maybe 1.5hrs.

    I have 28 kids (not as bad as the 35 last year) mixed ability but no TA (common I know). Maths lessons with the disparity of ability are something I can’t even explain & I was waiting to be observed in it with 24hrs notice. I was waking up soaked in sweat having nightmares about it. I couldn’t handle being told it wasn’t good enough. I could not have given more of myself.

    I told school I’d come back after half term (to 2 immediate parent eves no less) but my GP laughed at my suggestion & kept me off again. I was signed off 15 days in total. I suggested a phased return of a week of morns before full time (my GP didn’t want me back at all) but I was told all or nothing is better for the kids. What about me & my baby? So now I’m using my last 2 weeks of paid sick leave (GPs advice) & will have to return full whack at the end of it. Daunting to say the least. I feel unbearably guilty for my team who are suffering & trying to chip in. They’re stressed too & didnt get signed off. When did teaching get like this? Who the hell are the superheroes who do this & don’t hate their lives?! And when will the anxiety end. I don’t feel like myself anymore.
  2. Numbergame

    Numbergame New commenter

    I'm in a similar situation. I've not been signed off yet but I think it's imminent as I can't carry on with the anxiety I'm experiencing and I'm already on anti-anxiety meds. You are off because you are ill. Try not to feel guilty. You have been driven to feeling this way and being ill by the insanity of modern teaching.
  3. agathamorse

    agathamorse Senior commenter

    You are pregnant and therefore you and your baby come first. Go back to your GP when this fit note runs out and get signed off again. Working those long hours with that much stress is bad for you and your baby. You need to put yourself first!
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Well, you're not really yourself any more. You've become a teaching-drone.

    Real people have families and watch TV and read books. They go for nice walks at the weekend or meet up with friends. Maybe they go to the football or crochet or enjoy doing wildlife photography.

    Well, that's how it really ought to be. A balanced life. A healthy life. All work and no play and all that jazz.

    But what do I know? I retired in 2013. Early. I didn't like the way things were going.

    You can only do what you can do. You're not responsible for your colleagues or their welfare. You're barely looking after yourself. You had better start there. With YOU.
  5. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    It's not your fault.
    The anxiety will only lessen once the cause of it stops. It doesn't get better within a few weeks. It can take months.
    It is important that you take the time off work that you need. You and your baby's health are what matters right now.
  6. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

    Thank you. The GP said the same and doesn’t want me back full time there at all but i only get 25days of paid sick leave (having only been with the LA since Jan) & then it’s half pay... I’m trying to weigh up whether I can stick the remaining 4.5 weeks or not. Statuatory maternity pay is rubbish and I don’t want to add too much financial pressure.
    agathamorse likes this.
  7. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    I feel for you.
    Think of alternative outcomes - you have time off to deal with the physical symptoms and have as healthy a pregnancy and baby as you can, or you go back to work, make yourself ill and possibly deliver stress hormones or worse to your child.
    Your head obviously has a presenteeism approach...
    and would seem to care little for you or your well being.
    If you don't care for your well being (and that of your child), who will?

    You'd have time off for the physical symptoms of a broken leg or a dodgy heart, you have the physical symptoms of an overstressed brain and nervous system. Still needs time off - with no guilt.
  8. jarndyce

    jarndyce Occasional commenter

    Your Head can **** right off.
  9. Jolly_Roger15

    Jolly_Roger15 Star commenter

    For imposing such a stressful and heavy workload on its staff, it is the school that should feel guilty.:mad:
  10. baitranger

    baitranger Senior commenter

    Your real conditions of service are unreasonable and have made you ill. Your real conditions are not the same as those in your contract. If the school really cared about you they wouldn't put under such pressure. Get out of there with as much as you can get. Talk to your union, talk to a solicitor, but don't risk your health any further. It's not worth it.
  11. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    In two years' time are you goung to look back and think that the extra few weeks at school with income was worth it, or wil your baby be more important? I think you know the answer to this.
    Take care of yourself and your baby. This comes first. Your bonkers school comes a very distant second.
  12. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    When I worked at a very stressful long hours school, 3 of us were pregnant. All 3 of us ended up having ill health and pregnancy/labour complications. One had a threatened miscarriage, one went into very premature labour and the other nearly lost her baby the day before her due date. When I went to a postnatal group for women who had had tough pregnancies and were at risk of postnatal depression, 50% were teachers. The health visitor said that by far the biggest group of people to have complications were teachers and nurses, which proved which were the most stressful jobs.
    A job is a job that will change many times in your lifetime, a baby and your health is for life. Also your half pay probably wont be as bad as you think because of tax. Although I was only on a 0.5 contract on UPS3, my half pay take home was only about 25% less than full pay.
  13. bonxie

    bonxie Lead commenter

    The head teacher is being thoughtless, uncaring and selfish by trying to insist you work such ridiculous hours. A well run school shouldn't need staff to work beyond the hours they are actually paid for. Well-rested teachers who have a decent quality of life will always perform better than stressed and exhausted ones.

    Prioritising the health of you and your baby is not being lazy or selfish. It's vital for the survival of you both. It's far more important than anything to do with school. Teaching is a just a job. An important job and a worthwhile job, but in the end, just a job. I'm sure you don't view it as more important the life and health of you and your child so you don't need to feel guilty about doing what's right for you and your baby.
  14. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

    I didn’t think to check how much of an impact 1/2 pay would actually be with tax. Thank you. And that’s a really scary statistic. I still can’t understand how they don’t see it’s crazy themselves. The problem is the head is never there & other SLT members have only worked there...
    I really don’t want to go back & then just be off again either. Nothing will change when I go back either so not sure what they think will happen. It will be a 10+ hour day without breaks on day 1 & then parents eves etc rearranged immediately.
    agathamorse likes this.
  15. scott1980

    scott1980 Occasional commenter

    My solution while I was pregnant was to take one set of books home each day and leave at 3.30. I stayed for staff meeting on a Tuesday. Caught up with marking in ppa. I plan to do the same when I return from maternity leave. I ended up with gd so can second it's the health of you and your baby which is important. You should have a pregnancy risk assessment to protect you
  16. curlcurlcurl

    curlcurlcurl Occasional commenter

    Are you sure on this? I thought sick pay was always counted on cumulative teaching service, not time with the LA you’re working in. As far as I know, they have to take any previous teaching service into account to calculate your sick pay, so they may be pulling a fast one.

    See the Burgundy Book guidance below, although I’m no expert I’m sure one of the wiser forum members will be along soon to clarify. Either way, your health, wellbeing and that of your baby needs to be your priority.

    Teachers’ national sick pay entitlements, set out in the Burgundy Book, give a sliding scale entitlement according to length of service, as follows:

    During the first year of service:
    Full pay for 25 working days and, after completing four calendar months’ service, half pay for 75 working days.

    During the second year of service:
    Full pay for 50 working days and half pay for 50 working days.

    During the third year of service:
    Full pay for 75 working days and half pay for 75 working days.

    During the fourth and successive years of service:
    Full pay for 100 working days and half pay for 100 working days.
    Full pay for 100 working days and half pay for 100 working days.
    ElizabethElizabeth1 likes this.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Welcome to the world of primary teaching...certainly in many schools.
    I found the same when I moved.
    Half pay for the rest of term does sound like the best option.
    When are you planning to start maternity leave? Can you start that a little sooner?

    In terms of workload, you might want to consider moving back to secondary or to an independent when you return from maternity leave. Certainly your current school sounds a nightmare.
  18. yodaami2

    yodaami2 Lead commenter

    I would not move from secondary to primary for any amount of money. Have you considered part time secondary? I think you can use the “primary didn’t work out for me.. immaturity of children..academically unchallenging etc “ as a reason for moving back.
  19. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

    There’s no way I could mark in PPA! I have in all previous schools I’ve worked in but never managed it here. We end up meeting as a team or group planning or doing something else we’ve been asked for. By the time my 2 hours are up, there’s no time for marking sadly.
    agathamorse likes this.
  20. ElizabethElizabeth1

    ElizabethElizabeth1 New commenter

    Definitely considering it after maternity!!
    yodaami2 and agathamorse like this.

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