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I feel new head has a negative attitude towards me.

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Blencarn1, Jun 20, 2015.

  1. Blencarn1

    Blencarn1 New commenter

    We have recently had a new head teacher appointed.

    Within the first couple of weeks they said to me that "teaching is a young persons' game" (I am about 20 years older than they are). I feel that her attitude towards me is negative. I am ignored most of the time and feel sidelined. I often miss out on information that other staff are party to.

    I am concerned that this negative attitude will manifest itself in a negative appraisal or lesson observation. I feel I should make my concerns known now as if I mention them after any negative feedback it would sound like sour grapes. Whom should I speak to - the chair of governors? I could speak to my Union but I don't want to escalate things unnecessarily.

    Advice appreciated.
  2. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter


    I think I'd start keeping a log of all such comments & any other incidents. I'd also collect evidence (store it off site, of course) - for example if you miss out on information, email the person with what you think happened , and keep their response as evidence (at home, not on school server).

    And I would speak to my union, not the school rep, just to share these events. I would not, ever, speak to the Chair of Governors as I'd expect them to talk to the HT...
  3. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I am very sorry to hear this but it does have a very familiar ring. You wouldn't happen to be on the UPS and about 50, would you? Folk Fan's advice is very good, of course, but if the your Head made this remark to you as a 'statement of intent', so to speak, I think it is a 'shot across your bows'. If possible, I would start looking for 'exit strategies' as a contingency, as if the Head wants to 'get you off the bus', the only control you have is how you hard you hit the road.
  4. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    That comment may well be sufficient to amount to evidence of direct age discrimination. To put that in perspective and avoid a charge of being melodramatic, I was at a training day with the specialist employment lawyers who advise us, last Tuesday. One of them talked about a discrimination case going through at the moment in which the employer had said precisely the same thing to an employee.

    Together with the feeling of negativity I think you right to be cautious. To subject you to 'less favourable treatment' (sidelining you; denial of information) is also indicative of discrimination. I would start to keep a diary in which you record all comments, intercations etc. Anything you can confirm in an email (for evidence), find an opportunity to do so. e.g. "I seem not to have received information that others have received about xxx. Please may I have a copy?"

    In keeping the diary, keep it in a form in which pages cannot readily be torn out. Date and time every entry, add witnesses and details of place etc and then rule off immediately underneath, so that the record is clearly contemporaneous and there can be no allegation that you have later added information.

    Add a free record app to your mobile phone and make an illicit recording of any conversation with this woman. Such evidence can be admitted in a discrimination claim. It's not illegal, but if you are not discrete with any recording (published it on Facebook; played it to mates down the pub) you could run the risk of breaching data protection laws. If you can get her to repeat the comment - KerCHING!

    School reps are not up to speed with discrimination law - which is complex. You do need to alert your union but ensure it is immediately at area/regional level. They can advise on the best way to approach the problem - at first it would be via a grievance, but let them advise.

    Good information on age discrimination (and discrimination in general) on the Citizens Advice website www.adviceguide.org.uk if you want to read up. Another source of expert advice is from Equality Advisory Support Service. Free helpline.

    Don't feel embarrassed about raising this as an issue - it's the law!
  5. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    I find myself agreeing with GLsghost. If you have hard evidence of the Head saying such things, it could turn out to be very valuable indeed!
  6. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    That's helpful!

    The government and the EU agree with me too! [​IMG]
  7. Dunteachin

    Dunteachin Star commenter

    You have to laugh. Many years ago, a new Head said in a staff meeting: 'Anyone over 40 is past it'. I think he was about 43, himself.
  8. Violalass

    Violalass New commenter

    Hoping someone would take the hint and squeeze him out?
  9. Blencarn1

    Blencarn1 New commenter

    Many thanks for the advice. It is very much appreciated. I will start to keep a log as suggested. I will also speak to my Union.

    Many thanks for your support.
  10. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    As part of your log, you should email the head directly whenever any comment is made, asking, "Just to be sure that I've not misunderstood, would you please confirm what you said this morning about teaching being a young person's game?", and send a copy (blind) to your private email address, and then print it. If the head doesn't answer, you still have evidence that you asked the question.
  11. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    That's good advice, Siegens. [​IMG]

    Keep us informed of any further developments. Plenty of support on this forum from knowledgeable people - there are Heads, retired Heads,CoGs, union reps and those who now work in law.

    To be clear, it would be unlawful for the Head to victimise you for raising concern about discrimination - so report to the union any escalation immediately.

    Limitation for discrimination is tight: typically three months minus one day to issue a claim from the last substantial act. Let's hope a warning shot over the bow from the union is sufficient. If the situation should deteriorate, however, do not sit wondering what to do for months. Notify your union straight away or you may lose the legal right to take any action.
  12. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    It's a sad state of affairs when any throw away comment are "evidence of direct age discrimination". I'm 34 and I'm sure I've said similar. Teaching is a demanding profession. That's not to say that I cannot do my job or that I feel that older people cannot do their job. I'd be extremely surprised if there was anyone who comments in here that has never felt that they haven't got the energy to teach on some days...

    I'd be really interested to find out how the OP is "often missing out on information others are party to". How is this information shared? I cannot imagine that the head goes around and tells everyone else everything verbally just to avoid you.
  13. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    Not any throw away comment. That particular throw away comment - and it is, indeed, likely to amount to evidence of direct age discrimination. Substitute "teaching is a white persons game" and you can see how offensive it is. Headteachers and other staff should not make such comments. It's the law.

    Then you should thank your lucky stars that thus far you have not been named as a Respondent in a discrimination claim. Individuals can be held liable as well as employers and damages in a discrimination claim are potentially unlimited.

    How is that relevant in the context of the OP's Head's comment?
  14. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Like I said, it's a sad state of affairs when people are not allowed an opinion.

    Perhaps it was on one of these days the head made this remark? Perhaps they actually felt that THEY were too old for teaching and it wasn't directed at the OP at all.
  15. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    What would you say about a male teacher, who said to a female colleague: 'Teaching's really a male job these days'...

    or a white teacher who said to a non-white colleague: 'Teaching is more suited to whites'...?

    In either case how long would they last?

    So why are age discriminatory comments OK? If you've said them in the past, you should be ashamed.

    Some of the most exhausted teachers I sued to see were the younger ones who seemed to enjoy a lively social life as well. Older teachers like me didn't. Perhaps we should say 'Teaching isn't really a young person's job these days...'?

  16. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    Perhaps and if that's your opinion, I'd say you'd be entitled to it or does that saying not exist any more?

    Like GLGhost you're making an irrelevant comparison. White people and black people are the same as are men and women when it comes to teaching. I don't feel like I did when I was 20 and I'm sure when I'm 50 I'll feel differently to how I feel now. I had to go and help my granddad clean his car port roof and put up a curtain rail yesterday. Jobs he used to do himself but now he's too old and couldn't do them safely so I do them.

    And, as I have said, we don't know that the head was actually talking about the OP. Like I have said before he could have been referring to himself.

    I can tell you one thing, I have no intention of teaching into my 50's. I will be too old to mark the books, deal with the relentless changes, deal with the children, deal with the parents, jump through the OFSTED hoops etc. I will not have the energy and hopefully I won't need to! That said, I'm sure there are plenty of people in their 50's that want to continue teaching and that do a good job. I just wouldn't be one of them! But that's my opinion - although it would seem I'm not allowed to have one.

    We teach children resilience but seem not to have any as adults. We tell children to ignore comments made from other children, but seem unable to do the same. I time trial a lot and one week I saw on Facebook after the event that one of the older members was really pleased that he had PB'd at about 23:30. He'd asked another rider how he had got on and his reply was, "S**t, I only did a 22:10." He was upset and felt that his achievement meant less. I completely disagreed. Should the other rider, who by his standards had had a poor ride, have said he was really pleased in case he upset the slower riders? Where does it stop?
  17. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I agree with school boy error that too much is being made of one remark. By all means keep a record, but it totally devalues discrimination claims when so much is being made of it. Teaching is easier when you are younger and they could have been talking about themselves.
  18. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    No, I wouldn't have said it to them (unless directly asked for advice, I guess) as it's not my business. They are adults & professionals, so they should work out how to live their lives. To comment on it would come across as criticism...as the HT's comment to the OP did.

    You are clearly ageist.

    That's your business (hope you can afford it though!). But your attitude is totally unacceptable if you express it to other people, and if you were in a position of power (like the HT) you would eb bullying to express it as they did.

    If you can't see the difference between a comment made by pupil A to pupil B, and one made by a HT to a teacher in their school, then I don't think you have what it takes to be a teacher at all...

    Last bit, just my opinion...But how would you feel if I were your HT and said it?

  19. School Boy Error

    School Boy Error Occasional commenter

    [​IMG] I'd still like to know how they are being kept out of the loop. That might give us a better idea of it's deliberate...
  20. GLsghost

    GLsghost Star commenter

    But it's not 'one remark', is it? It's a remark and side-lining and failure to provide the OP with information that is given to others.

    Whether you like it or not, that is sufficient to amount to a breach of the legislation.

    And there doesn't have to be malice involved. Discrimination done in ignorance still breaches the act.

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