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Is fear affecting your work?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by JessicaPowellJournalist, Feb 9, 2017.

  1. peggylu

    peggylu Star commenter

    At which point I would have replied with a firm, no thank you, if you have identified a problem so serious it requires an actual meeting then please let me know what it is via email or verbally in the presence of my union representative.

    I hate bullies. Especially those that try to mess with your head.
     
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  2. marymoocow

    marymoocow Star commenter

    Yes. I had a breakdown and left teaching altogether. Teaching now is like being under constant test conditions, lessons obs, drop ins, learning walks, planning scrutiny, book scrutiny, consultant observations, gov observations often all in one half term. After all that OFSTED is a walk in the park. I used to hide when i heard my head walking down the corridor, he caused me to panic so much.
     
  3. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    According to the dfe and ofsted, placing teachers under such continuous flight or fight adrenal fuelled stressful conditions, and rewarding best the people in the system who create this environment 'raises teaching and learning standards'.

    According to any qualified medic the flight or fight syndrome is meant to last a few moments for survival instincts to kick in. Prolonged exposure to such high amounts of adrenaline can lead to all sorts of long term mental and physical damage.

    But the dfe and ofsted have elevated themselves above and escaped accountability for this sort of thing for a very long time.


    And I'm sure they will successfully continue to do so......
     
  4. mrkeys

    mrkeys Occasional commenter

    Michael Wilshaw told me that he wanted to staff to be in fear of him whenever he walked into their classrooms.
    This comment has been repeated by him many times.
     
  5. tsarina

    tsarina Occasional commenter

    This is actually true.

    I have a confession to make. Back in 2010, whilst working in an inner london school, I got fed up of always getting "satisfactory" in observations, so i used the "learning projects" we were doing for the teacher learning academy to try and improve my grade. I paired up with a really good teacher that i got on with and respected and we did a series of informal planning sessions, observations and feedbacks. At the end my line manager did an observation and i got a good, i wrote up the project, did a tongue in cheek presentation to the department, and got my certificate.

    Imagine my horror when next year the school decided to implement this process as compulsory for everyone who got less than good in observations. Suddenly half the staff were singled out as not good enough and put on these support plans. It was great for the managers who could show that there were "helping" staff improve but really terrible for the staff that had poor managers who were actually pretty poor at teaching themselves.

    A couple of years on and all managers had targets on how many people they had to improve and so had to deliberately grade some people down at the start of the year in order to do this. This is when the culture of fear set in. Utter Madness.
     
  6. nervousned

    nervousned Senior commenter

    The culture of fear in state education is why I left teaching. Life's too short to be afraid all the time. In the last six/seven years the job turned from one where I used to feel overpaid to one where you couldn't pay me enough. A switch of focus from doing the best for students to doing the best for Ofsted.
     
  7. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    I think a healthy dollop of concern has always been there (I started teaching in 2002): will Child A get their result? What if my next observation is bad? What happens if XYZ?

    But over the past 5 or so years, it has definitely increased. I've sat in meetings where I've actually been called names, where I've been accused of hiding things (I hadn't but as I'd had no agenda and didn't know what paperwork was required so hadn't brought what they wanted and apparently thought I would psychically pick up on; when I offered to get it, I was shouted at for not being prepared), where no lesson was good enough, where every single thing I did was scrutinised, where I was blamed for poor decision making when I hadn't actually made the decision or had actively argued against it...and every day now, when I see the five or six Year 11s in my class who have decided not to revise and to do nothing, I feel a deep and abiding fear for my job, my mental health, my family's ability to eat and have a roof over their heads. I now hate being observed (I never used to mind although I've never been especially comfortable at people with clipboards being in my room) and I absolutely despise meetings. I panic whenever someone says 'oh, we've had to change the agenda' and I literally cannot fill in application forms for jobs because I have talked myself into thinking I'm rubbish.

    So yes - fear is definitely a concern. The weird thing is, fear does not seem to affect the students. I teach fairly average, predominantly white middle-class British children (very few PP students, very few EAL, below average numbers for SEN) and a large proportion don't give a tiny sheet about their results. One of them even told me it would be MY fault if he failed as I hadn't let him copy his controlled assessment. I've also had kids ask with malice whether I'll be fired if they fail (to be fair, I've had way more thank-yous and 'we love you, Miss' but there's always a few who hate you). The Fear comes from the fact that I can work 65 hour weeks, provide every resource, revision material, give up every lunchtime to support, pore over numbers and data, write home, do every single thing I can to get these kids their results but ultimately their lack of effort makes me look like poo, not them.
     
  8. Dragonlady30

    Dragonlady30 Star commenter


    I've just read this blog and so agree with the comments. I was in a situation where knew I was finding everything so much more difficult but hoped it would be noticed and I would be offered help, as had happened with other colleagues over the years. No such luck!! I was screamed at by HoD in front of the department because I wouldn't cheat with GCSE coursework. Because I was, after all, damaging the chances of kids to get into college! I completely froze and lost my way.

    Enter new HT.

    You all know the rest. I was late 50 s, UPS 3, been at the school forever. I remember my union rep said trust no one. I didn't think she meant herself but she helped me to the door, so to speak. Area union person about as much use a chocolate tea pot, after I'd been a member of the union for 41 years!

    Fear? I was terrified. Driving to school in the morning, was there any way I wouldn't have to arrive at school?

    I resigned, believing I was a rubbish teacher. Funny, I got a short term contact at another school and was told I was good/excellent. :confused:
     
    Last edited: Feb 12, 2017
  9. catbanj

    catbanj Occasional commenter

    I agree.

    I almost wrote a post about how biased this research question wasearlier.... but remembered it's Sunday so I'm not lecturing kids on designing fair research projects :)

    I think any journalist who starts looking for fear will find it and it alone, which is a real shame.

    Just like any product reviews, the only people who reply to the email asking for feedback will be those with an axe to grind. Those who just bumble along won't bother (which is why I ignore Amazon reviews).

    For the record, I have worked in a school where I didn't fit and I had serious anxiety as I was judged to be failing even though my results were good. I changed school and carried on working and teaching in exactly the same way and am consistently judged as outstanding, now a Lead Practitioner etc etc. Sometimes it really is a case of being a square peg in a round hole possibly more so than in Industry.
     
  10. bob79

    bob79 Occasional commenter

    That really isn't my experience sadly. In fact the worst bullying culture I have ever witnessed/experienced was in this sector. All sectors have the potential for being bullying-hell-holes, a school is only ever as good as the management culture that spills down from the top.
     
    Anonymity and rosievoice like this.
  11. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    You get to the point where they are having a go at you so much for minor things that you start to think you're rubbish. Just because you're not willing to give every waking hour to the school I was told I was worthy of a threat of misconduct for complaining.

    Odd that by doing less hours (in a non-teaching job) that I now get told I work too hard........

    Being appreciated in the workplace has been an odd experience after 5 years or so of the implication that I was rubbish.
     
  12. JessicaPowellJournalist

    JessicaPowellJournalist New commenter

    Thanks so much for all the comments so far – it has been really interesting to read your thoughts, although I've been so sorry to hear from those of you who have had really negative experiences. I am working on this for a few more days so please do keep the comments coming in!

    For those who work in happy, supportive environments and have expressed the idea that I wouldn't want to hear from you – not at all. As per the original post, I would be keen to hear from those who do not feel that fear is a problem in the profession/their school. We certainly want to reflect the reality of teachers' experiences, good and bad, and it would be great to get insights about how schools can (and do) go about creating positive environments, especially as this may provide tips/ideas for other teachers/schools to try.

    Thanks again!
     
  13. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Yes.
    You'd think.
     
  14. antoniogregorace

    antoniogregorace New commenter

    Absolutely. Spot on GDW.
     
    Lara mfl 05 likes this.
  15. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    It started creeping in with Gove's changes to employment policies for teachers in 2010. The school I foolishly joined went into special measures three months after, was taken over by the head of a neighbouring town's school higher up on the league table.
    She was made into the 'chief executive' of the new trust board formed with a huge pay package. (they forced the old head to resign.....)
    Which then went on with the help of ofsted local teams, lea consultants and other 'business' associates including union reps, to acquire around 6 other schools.
    By 2012, all teaching staff were handed a blanket policy document by the newly promoted HR director (ex office admin assistant to the new chief) agreeing that from that time onwards (2012) we would agree to abide by any new policies thought of by the board of directors.
    Our unions reps told us that this was nothing to worry about. It was happening everywhere.
    Shortly after, the entire MFL department resigned after they were threatened with performance observations.
    The teaching of French was handed over to the ex food tech technician, who couldn't speak a word of French, (an example of raising standards) this was then followed by a spate of paired observations of some targeted teachers to train and 'standardise' observation reports.
    The new head then produced a traffic style spreadsheet of teachers based on these paired observations. Turns out they were done in pairs to prevent dispute, when putting teachers on 'support' plans.
    Yes fear took hold around 2012 although it took much longer to spread the sharing of this 'best practice' method of deploying Gove's new policies, through CPD meetings for school leaders and middle leads.
    They could be brainwashed into thinking that they were indeed a cut above (is there any human immune to flattery) and sink their teeth in to their new roles as the dfe band of merry 'improvers' of anyone who didn't acquire a title and chose or were made to stick to 'just' teaching.

    It was well ochestrated and easy to implement once they found a 'standardised' way to divide teachers into classes by throwing huge pay package incentives to those chain bosses or chiefs who produced the data they wanted and could proudly display to the 'public'.
     
    Mrsmumbles and Lara mfl 05 like this.
  16. pickles124

    pickles124 Established commenter

    Can i also make another valid point too. Its not just teachers that fear 'fear'. TA's are also under an increasing amount of pressure. Is there enough support for TA's in schools? I would certainly like to know how other TA's are supported.
     
    Anonymity likes this.
  17. maggie m

    maggie m Senior commenter

    Blimey do we work at the same school? No, we haven ' t had the "if you dont ,t like it leave" comment .....yet
     
  18. Lara mfl 05

    Lara mfl 05 Star commenter

    So surely not a 'disappointing contribution', but a very valid one.

    I know I was very, very happy in a School, until one day everything turned on is head. However up to that point I did have a very happy time and were it not for certain personalities would be happy to return.
     
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  19. schoolsout4summer

    schoolsout4summer Star commenter

    Fear? Certainly. Terror if you are the selected target. PTSD can follow.
    And worse.
     
  20. drek

    drek Lead commenter

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-england-london-39194587

    Good lord I never thought that I would actually get evidence for the last para on post # 55 so soon..........

    And it's not just at this school. Ive worked at a few schools where If the BTEC or other coursework results were not going the way the head wanted, those teachers were often put on support plans which could lead to 'capability' to frighten them or the teachers taking over the classes into 'producing' distinctions or A* from students who could barely string two sentences together.

    The dfe are never going to investigate it and if they do we all know that they will arrive at the conclusion that it was really 'outstanding' teaching that improved the results so dramatically!

    Not the result of a culture of fear pervading schools now, produced by themselves, through indiscriminate policy changes.
     
    Mrsmumbles likes this.

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