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

Informal capability - what next?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by llowe25, Sep 29, 2015.

  1. llowe25

    llowe25 New commenter


    I have recently been put on a six week support plan (informal capability) following an observation that didn't go very well. The day after I received this information I started driving to work but got myself all worked up and panicky. I didn't go to work that day and made a doctors appointment and contacted my union. I have self certified for the past few days but I will need a doctors fit note if I need any longer off work. I do not feel ready to return to work. I went to see a different doctor today and explained my symptons and situation. They diagnosed me with anxiety due to work related stress but didn't give a fit note as my self certification ends Thursday. They also advised me to face work.

    My union have advised me not to go back just yet and get a sick/fit note from the doctors as right now I don't feel strong enough to cope with this six week support plan and successfully get through it. This could lead me to having capability on my reference and make me struggle to get another job.

    I feel like I'm getting two different bits of advice that do not support each other. I could wait til Thursday and get another doctors appointment to see if they will sign me off work and go from there but the unknown is making me more stressed.

    A few other questions, am I able to look for other jobs whilst on sick leave?
    I'm going to hand my notice in to leave at Christmas as I am really unhappy at this school. If I go back to work soon and start this six week process, what am I letting myself in for if I do. It succeed?

    Thank you for reading. Any advice appreciated.
  2. stmha

    stmha Established commenter

    Dear IIowe25

    Capability is a real shock to the system and will often have the impact you are experiencing. When we teach it is only us in front of the class and so any criticism really hurts.

    There are, however, some plus points to capability and it really depends on how you view it. You will get support, usually from a good and experienced teacher, who will give you regular feedback. This rarely happens in teaching and so you could say its an awesome opportunity. It depends whether you view what has happened as just or unjust.

    Try not to have a knee-jerk reaction and decide to leave. Try to view the feedback you have been given and decide if your able to take it on board and develop your teaching to another level. I know many teachers who went from border satisfactory to good/outstanding over the period of the plan.

    If however your union feels something is wrong with how you have been treated then that is another matter altogether.

    I think what your doctor may be getting at is that the longer you stay off work the harder it is to go back.

    good luck
    Dragonlady30 likes this.
  3. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Capability isn't some benevolent tool to improve teachers who have been found wanting in an objective manner. It is used as a broad brush tool to get rid of people.
  4. stmha

    stmha Established commenter

    Well I agree it does get used in that way and that's why many are sceptical about it. I don't suppose those that have found it helpful will rush to write their thoughts on here and so only the negative side is given. Unfortunately many useful ideas are hijacked and turned into tools for removing supposedly under-performing teachers.
    I was a mentor on a serious capability programme and it had a wonderful impact on the teachers and the school, it built a real team ethos. I suppose everything has potential for good and bad.
  5. llowe25

    llowe25 New commenter

    Thank you.

    In my head I am going back to work and seeing it through. I'm finding I have added stress being off work and not knowing what is going on. I'm just worried if I return to work and get back into not being able to cope and not improve, what will happen to me then?

    Sadly I am experiencing what other staff members at the same school experienced last year. I am trying to feel positive about it however, none of the teachers who went through this last year are still there now.
  6. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    Rightly so, see the above post.
  7. stmha

    stmha Established commenter

    You will soon get a clue whether the school is serious about the programme. If things dont pan out lots of teachers have a period in their lives where their teaching gets mixed up with other baggage. So take time to think about yourself, eat a good diet, drink lots of water and try to get some good sleep.
  8. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    stmha - I think saying capability has plus points is a bit like saying breathing in ammonia fumes can sometimes be pleasant! Although I suppose one actual plus point is that you are not dreading the 'you will be put in capability' chat as you are already there!

    Seriously though - what other jobs have you dreading entering the building as you drive in? Teaching can be horrific that way. (At one point, I literally had to stop and buy a paper and read it in a local park before going in such was my mood when I entered the school!)
    snowyhead likes this.
  9. drek

    drek Star commenter

    the only people I've heard being positive about it are those who carry it out on others.
    For example ofsted says head teachers they have surveyed find their inspection reports very helpful. Tee hee
    snowyhead likes this.
  10. drek

    drek Star commenter

    On a serious note sorry to hear about this. Hope it works out for you and anyone else caught up in the repeated abuse of professional trust and basic ethics.
  11. drek

    drek Star commenter

    Mixed up with other baggage? I think it is the other way around for most teachers?
    But they can maintain a semblance of balance and get their mojo back, thanks to the holidays
    When you are put on capability, the grinding insecurity, looming loss of income, possible loss of home etc are considered baggage? Since when?
    Well if one is born with a silver spoon in the mouth, I can quite see why they might look at it from that point of view.
    They probably have a 5 bedroom second home (or parental home) to move back into! Teaching may just be a passionate vocational outlet.
  12. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    ONE lesson obs didn't go well. One.

    Teaching must be the only profession where ONE tiny part of the working day that wasn't perceived to be perfect can result in such an extreme and heavy-handed response from one's employers. Doctors, surgeons, armed forces, politicians, you name it, they can have a bad day or more. Teachers aren't allowed.
    I hope you have contacted your Union.
    snowyhead likes this.
  13. old_dobbin

    old_dobbin Occasional commenter

    You had just one observation that didn't go well and they put you straight onto formal capability? That sounds extremely harsh and unreasonable. If that's what has happened in teaching since I retired I'm very glad to be out of it.
    Surely, your management need more grounds than just one faulty observation to take such a step? I agree with rosievoice, that teaching must be unique in that just a few minutes out of many years of successful teaching can lead to such an extreme and ugly punitive measure.
    And the underlying irony is that teachers are expected to be kind, sympathetic, caring - always taking a balanced view and giving more and more "chances" for students to improve.
  14. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    I'd be quite interested to know how many of the colleagues that you supported through 'a serious capability programme' actually came out the other side and remained in post.
  15. stmha

    stmha Established commenter

    Last year we had 8 staff placed on capability, 7 are still at the school. In part I felt their route into teaching was the main cause as the local provider doesn't carry out robust informative observations and so many of our teachers felt as it they were ill prepared.

    we are also part of a confederation of schools who use a similar approach.

    i don't doubt that capability is used to remove unwanted staff, some justifiably and some not. However its a pity they don't try and and turn round a struggling teacher.
  16. darklord11

    darklord11 Occasional commenter

    Sorry to hear this, but you will know your school and its managers and if this has been subjected upon other staff members and the outcome.
    Capability is used too often just to help encourage expensive staff to move on, if you want to improve teaching amongst colleagues then team up with others for professional dialogue.
    snowyhead likes this.
  17. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

  18. snowyhead

    snowyhead Lead commenter

    If that's the case take the local provider to task and then fill the gap with appropriate induction CPD, don't put NQTs through the punitive process of formal capability proceedings: it could put them off teaching forever.
    Last edited: Sep 30, 2015
    lizziescat and monicabilongame like this.
  19. stmha

    stmha Established commenter

    Capability for NQT's where did that come from. Some teachers after 2/3/4 years get into a muddle, bit like you, and capability is used to support them. Now its not exactly starting an argument in an empty room but pretty close.
  20. monicabilongame

    monicabilongame Star commenter

    Where did you get the notion that Snowyhead has been on capability? There's nothing in Snowyhead's posts to suggest this.

Share This Page