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Is there any point going to my union?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by JessicaRabbit1, Sep 22, 2015.

  1. JessicaRabbit1

    JessicaRabbit1 Senior commenter

    I work for an academy chain, in a school that is RI. Results weren't good last year and since the start of the new year the pressure has just gone through the roof. New initiatives thrust upon us with the expectation that they be implemented immediately. Constant, and I really do mean constant scrutiny. Drop ins every day, learning walks, Heads from other schools, academy executives. Yesterday I was observed or dropped in on 4 times in one day. This is the same for all staff. We have been told to expect more of the same for the foreseeable future.

    Behaviour is dreadful and stress levels are rocketing. I really don't think I can go on like this, and I know I'm far from alone.

    My question is; is there any point in seeking union advice / support? I know the issue of unions has been raised in the past and was dismissed by the Head with a vague promise that the academy would issue some sort of protocol on observations (nothing has been forthcoming as far as I know). The union rep left at the end of last year. No-one seems willing to put their head above the parapet. I know that there is no limit on observations anymore.

    So - any point? I am thinking of getting out.


  2. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    Try and get other like minded staff together and elect a rep. Otherwise go to your local union branch and ask for help.

    Excessive observation just grinds you down. It is not an environment where you can flourish.

    If the union or more to the point your colleagues won't take action then get out. Sadly more and more schools seem insistent on grinding their staff into the ground like this whilst wondering why results are on the decline.
  3. Ruthie66

    Ruthie66 New commenter

    Sounds horrible, definitely contact the union but also I'd be looking around at what else is out there.
  4. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    The union is actually in the school. Yes, you can bring in a local secretary and / or a national executive member, but unless the members in the school are prepared to act together there's not much point.
  5. mrkeys

    mrkeys Occasional commenter

    Sounds just like the academy where I once worked. The major problem was student behavior which was ignored by SLT. The fact that students would fight and gamble in the playground and corridors was always because they were bored in lessons and did not know their targets etc. Never had so many obs and scrutinies and nothing actually improved. The exec head was fired but not before over 120 staff left, many getting out of education. Countless careers were ended prematurely and the place closed. Union tried but were powerless. I got out and am now retired.

    Good luck. You need to stick together and try to survive. Do keep all notes and emails, also confirm by email to your LM how many 'drop ins' you are experiencing. Always get clarification by email about new initiatives and your understanding of new procedures.

    I wish you well.
  6. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    The SLT at the academy at which I last worked simply didn't recognise unions and would not speak to, or deal with, them.
  7. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    I think that's why Gove was so keen to promote academies.
  8. e_rift

    e_rift New commenter

    Keep in mind the school rep will have vested interest (IE they are also a teacher at the school and will want to keep their job!) so don't expect much help. Same with local reps, usually other teachers in the area who don't want to stick their necks too far out :/ My advice is to get out of an academy ASAP, they are more untouchable than other schools.
  9. Beltane_51

    Beltane_51 New commenter

    A good point e_rift. I was a Union Rep for 13 years in my Junior School. I was proud to represent my colleagues and Union in the face of some really awful issues many of which damaged my career and reputation within my LEA as a result of standing up for my colleagues. I would have to disagree with a few of the points though. If a Rep is not prepared to stick their head up above the parapet they have the back-up of some of the biggest and best Unions in the country and should contact their regional Negotiating Rep at Branch level. A Rep should NEVER deal with anything off their own back but should always refer it to those that are trained to do so. Where I do agree with you though is that you do become a target for those that want to do you harm and in my case this was via two high level managers in the SMT in two successive regimes. I am now keen to take on a fulltime Union role and would actually love to pack in teaching for good! Reps are some of the hardest, most decent people within a school and we should look after them.
    The curse of the whole system at the moment is the blind idea that Academies will save us all. e_rift is right...get out of the place!
  10. stmha

    stmha Established commenter

    Each union rep/regional advisor will have their own agenda; outlook/reputation/workload etc. There is no magical solution from union support and if you get good support then you are lucky and go with them.

    If, however, their support is lacking then a little knowledge can be a shield of protection. I advise teachers who have workplace problems and ask them to familiarise themselves with the academies grievance policies. They will be based upon the ACAS Code of Practice and therefore must be adhered to by your school.

    If you have no evidence of your concerns then your case will be weak, so try to put your concerns in writing..always via email (never handwritten).

    I can see you have lots of advice as to why academies are political hot potatoes but this doesn't help you solve your problems. There are some very basic principles that if you apply will improve your situation...failing that then a move should be a consideration. If however you are not being treated correctly moving on each time cannot be a solution.

  11. old_dobbin

    old_dobbin Occasional commenter

    Either get out as soon as you can or stick your own head up and organise the union. Four observations a day is far too much and will inevitably be counterproductive.

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