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Hostility in department

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by xtra, Mar 30, 2017.

  1. xtra

    xtra New commenter

    I'm thinking of leaving, I've already told the head I am applying for new jobs but will possibly be resigning. When he asked why I told him that I didn't believe the current role offered me any opportunity to progress with my skills or in my career, I also told him that I don't think classes have been allocated fairly which affects my performance - and my pay as a consequence. He has offered to have a meeting with the head of department to discuss our roles and called the HOD for a meeting last week, there is now some hostility between us and the HOD thinks I am now after their job. I'll explain more:
    In my first year of teaching there I was only given key stage 3 classes, no top sets or bottom sets, just the large and sometimes difficult classes in the middle. The reason for not giving me any key stage 4 or 5 was stated as "helping me to settle in". Three years later nothing has changed, the HOD still has all key stage 4 and 5 - small groups with less that 15 students in each class - along with the top and bottom sets from key stage 3. In terms of student numbers, I have over 500 students and the HOD has 180. In addition, the HOD also has a lot of frees on his timetable in addition to management and ppa, I don't have any.
    This week the HOD had a meeting with the head to discuss this and has hardly spoken to me, but has made comments about me being "after his job", I think he has also discussed this with students as some who hang around the department in breaks are also falling completely silent when I walk in a room and he is with them, its all very awkward. One student in key stage 3 said to me this week: "Is it true that if you pick GCSE you only have Mr ...... and not you?" reply: "At the moment that's correct but it may change", to which the student said: "Oh, I've heard he's a much better teacher than you". I was almost in tears at this point.
    To add to this, our performance is frequently compared and referred to in meetings, "Mr .......'s results are much better than yours, all his students are on or above target and there are few behavioural problems, what are you doing wrong?" I have tried explaining that I think this is because he as the very small low ability groups with less than 10 in the class, the top set, and the KS4/5 who have OPTED to take the subject, but SLT won't listen to me. I would like the chance to prove that I CAN get good results but I feel this is holding me back. I also think that the way our classes have been allocated, and our timetables are totally unfair. Unfortunately I have no control over this, in our school the HOD has control over how this is allocated.
    kazzakat934 and pepper5 like this.
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Leaving sounds like a very good idea. I am certainly not going to talk you out of it.
  3. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Even if you leave, you still need to continue to go in.
    That's tricky given the hostility which you describe.
    Your technique will have to be to focus on yourself, and to focus on those individual children in your groups only. You are there for them. You need to extract yourself from the bias which has been constructed within the timetabling (I know this happens, I've seen it, many others have too, the agenda is real enough) and get on with the here and now. You also need to extract yourself from self-examination and the sense of unfairness, which is tricky but pretty important, or it's going to effect how you work with your students.
    Don't let it become a self-fulfilling prophecy in any way.
    Keep up the job search, vacancies will peak and stay that way soon, so lots for you to look at on the job market.
    Your HoD appears to have been pretty self serving in their allocation and in their understanding of why this leaves you short schrifted; the fact that they feel professionally threatened, that you might actually be after their job is actually a personal failing on their part. They respond only to heirarchy, not common sense or humanity. That's why many people become HoD.
    Not all though, I have to emphasise that. There are some fantastic HoDs out there, who have a lot to teach you. I don't think yours does though, so move on, and in the interim, do it for the kids in your room and don't give the others the time of day. They don't count.
  4. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    Agree with gdw.
    If you don't move and have an opportunity to prove your point, you'll never know.
  5. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Also you need to congratulate yourself on what you have achieved. No wonder you're stuck there. You're a victim of your own success.

    I don't think I'd be keen to move you but I would be honest with you. "You are absolutely brilliant with these kids. I don't know how you do it. I need you to do what you're doing because I can't match up to you. Not with the groups you have!"

    I would also reflect that in your pay.
    kazzakat934 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  6. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    My career started like that, there was a distinct pecking order, especially in physics HoD had top sets and carefully selected tame bottom set (but no 6th form because he didn't know enough physics), set 2 shared between two other teachers, one of whom did all the A level, the rest to people like me.
    Best to move onwards and upwards.
    pepper5, kazzakat934 and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  7. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    We were a happy department before a new colleague joined last September.

    Now we're not.
  8. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    Given the comments about you being "after his job", perhaps you should find an opportunity to talk to him and say "I'm absolutely not after your job - apart from anything else, I simply don't have the experience, as I have only taught middle-ability KS3. But I can't teach just KS3 forever, and I need to start to gain more breadth of experience. I could do that here, or I could move elsewhere, but something needs to happen soon, or I will struggle to get a post elsewhere due to my lack of KS4/5 experience."

    If your head has any sense, they will be insisting that you are given some KS4 and 5 next year. Your HoD is probably sensing that their cushy timetable will be less so next year, but having a couple of "their" groups is not the same as taking their job.
    I would perhaps avoid "fairness" arguments, and comparison of results, but stick to "I need to be given a chance to teach a wider range of groups", so it's a matter of your professional development, not any competition with the HoD.
  9. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter


    I agree @frustum

    "It's not fair." That won't get you anywhere. It's not how groups should be allocated anyway. Groups go to whoever is best equipped to deal with them and if you are great with the large groups of middling ability then it's right and proper that you teach them. That would be the correct business decision for the school. Quite "short-termist" but deployment depends on the staff in post at the time.

    If you want something else for your professional development then you may have to move. By all means try again for some diversification but be diplomatic about it.
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  10. meggyd

    meggyd Occasional commenter

  11. meggyd

    meggyd Occasional commenter

    I disagree that groups should go to whoever can teach them best. Everyone should be having a go at teaching every kind of group. Of course I'm not suggesting that someone without a physics degree should teach A level physics for example. Given that all in a department are qualified everyone should have a fair distribution of top middle and bottom sets over the years. It is especially important given pay increases by results. I have worked in departments like the one above and it is bad for staff morale and retention.
  12. xtra

    xtra New commenter

    I'd just like to point out that I'm not at the beginning of my career. I've been teaching a while and have taught A level and GCSE - with 100% A*-C results, just not at this current school.
    BarryIsland likes this.
  13. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    Whatever groups you are teaching, not having any non-contact time certainly is unfair, if others in the department are getting it.
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    The OP should most definitely have 10% PPA time.
  15. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    Don't you contradict yourself above?
  16. meggyd

    meggyd Occasional commenter

    No . Given that most colleagues in the department s I have worked in have had a degree in their subject and a pgce then fair shares all round. When we have had a colleague from another department coming to us to fill in then I think they do not expect exam classes.
  17. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    But having a degree in a subject in the subject is not the best indicator of a good teacher. It could very well be that the best physics teacher doesn't have a physics degree. A good HoD fits teachers into their skill set.
  18. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Just go. Find another job. You are being treated unfairly.
    1 person likes this.
  19. meggyd

    meggyd Occasional commenter

    I am old school i am afraid and i believe that a degree is a pre requisite. Only very occasionally is this not the case. A good hod is fair and supportive of all staff and does not hog top sets or a level teaching and allows others to develop their careers. A good hod leads by example and that means being prepared to take 9 z on Friday afternoon and not off loading it onto the nqt.
  20. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    This is my dilemma.

    There are two teachers of my subject in my department. The other teacher (lovely person though they are) is not someone who finds motivating a class easy, has much less extensive subject knowledge than I do (and less teaching experience) and finds it hard to manage the lower ability sets.

    but....they were there first and my HOD appointed the other teacher and is very loyal to them. Hence I've taught pretty low ability groups for the last few years and watched all the top GCSE sets walk down the corridor.

    The other teacher has a young family and if we're being brutally honest would probably struggle to get another job elsewhere. Results in my subject the last couple of years were well below the average of the school and this year will be no different.

    Before I came to my current school I had outstanding GCSE results and I've done pretty well with the kids I've had since I've been here.

    But Hey ho....I'm not making a big fuss over this.....I may just move on at some point..

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