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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by nadolig, Apr 29, 2011.

  1. Can members help me out here and give me some advice? I would be so appreciative.

    I was erroneously prescribed medication for insomnia which my GP, last September, advised I should stop taking, resulting in a long list of side effects - for 5 long months - one of which was depression - the reason for sick leave written on my sick note. I was unhappy with this, given that the ensuing depression was merely a secondary and predicted response to my then current medical treatment, but the GP assured me that it was all he could write on my sick note.

    I returned to work this year in February 2011 and was horrified to discover that pupils had been informed that the reason for my sick leave was that I had been depressed. Comments such as, "You can't tell me what to do Miss, they told us you went loony" and" We were told you went to the nuthouse" were regular features of my teaching day. Colleagues approached me informing me that their students had told them, "We were told Miss (X) had had a mental breakdown". Further taunts ensued, leading me to believe that the (apparent) reason for my sick leave had been both entirely misrepresented but nevertheless, leaked to staff and students.

    Having been a dedicated teaching profession with an unblemished record for 18 years now, I am only too aware of mischief pupils can make. However, such taunts have come from 4 entire Year Groups and such widespread fall-out must have its roots somewhere. Given that since my return I have been excluded from Departmental and Formal Staff Meetings and the promised teaching timetable has not been delivered (my position now is one of unnecessary and/or unwanted classroom assistant) I am naturally feeling isolated and confused as to what my current role actually is.

    I have a meeting next week to discuss the situation with my Head, who is aware of the above. My dignity and professional confidence have been completely undermined and I'm most concerned about a decent reference. I am not sure, at this stage, that I have the confidence to apply for further posts. Can members advise me what I am to do and what my rights are?

    Thank you so much, Nadolig
  2. lilykitty

    lilykitty New commenter

    I'm not really qualified to give you advice on your rights, but I had to post to show my support. This is an absolutely horrible situation. You have been totally let down by the school, and if the management had any integrity they would be deeply ashamed at your treatment and actively seeking to address it. How could a member of staff have been so incredibly ignorant and thoughtless as to share this with your pupils? In my opinion, the cause of your depression is not relevant. Teachers surely can expect their medical details to be treated confidentially, whatever they may be.
    You do need to give yourself a bit of a shake though. The school you are working at has very poor judgement, no respect for teachers and is unable to manage staff in a positive way. Are you really going to let such a place (and such people) get to you? You need to get away from this toxic environment because you are too good for it. Make the decision not to surrender one more drop of your confidence to these idiots. Write down all the things you are proud of and have achieved in your career (I know 18 years will take quite a while, but trust me, it will be worth it). This is who you are as a teacher. This is what you are offering to new employers. I know it's not easy, but don't give these people any more power over you. Focus on moving on to a place where you can florish again.
    Good luck, and keep posting!
  3. As well as getting advice from your union as suggested above, you might get some interest from a law firm specialising in employment law and looking to cut their teeth on a case of constructive dismissal.
    No matter who's big gob is involved, their action has made your working life very difficult, at a time when your managers' duty was to oversee your safe return to the workplace.
    Gossip is very hard to control in a school, but your managers need to know how much this idle gossip is harming you. And because of other things you mention like being excluded from meetings, they need to be told of their failure by someone legally tough.
    I recommend you don't see your head alone but with a 'friend', and you might after discussion with union and with legal advice be taking out a grievance against your head.
  4. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Whatever medical condition you have SMT should be stepping in to stop this. Take someone from your union at regional level with you and find out where you stand from a legal point.
  5. Your post is truly shocking. At the very time that your school should be supporting your return, they have made things more difficult for you. It is an absolute breach of confidence and an invasion of privacy for students to be told why a sick member of staff is off- and even worse when the person with th big mouth doesn't even have their facts right. For me, tthis would be one for the union, but I'd begin by requesting a meeting with the head to discuss matters first, accompanied by a reliable and ttrustworthy colleague - if there are any...
  6. To all who have posted their responses to my situation, thank you. Your support and concern have really strengthened me over this (long!) weekend. I shall be printing them off and taking them in for moral support when I discuss the situation later this week with the Head.
    Kindest wishes to you all,
  7. langteacher

    langteacher Occasional commenter

    good luck[​IMG]
  8. Think ahead, your HT will deny all responsibility for the leak, (and no matter how hard you try, you would not be able to prove otherwise) if he's any way smart, he will express his concern re the situation and ask how you would like to proceed. You need an answer ready. Regardless of what you want, he will suggest that he will do what he can. Then probably do nothing. My advice would be to possibly mention the kids gossip (but being realistic, you should not be surprised) but be dealing with it by the way you don't react to taunts. Your concerns should be re being re-integrated into your department. Again, that must be done carefully or you could be set up to fail by being given, at your request, a workload that turns out to be too heavy. I don't know the culture in your school - if it's generally positive, make sure you don't screw things up by overreacting, if it's hostile, then some of the earlier advice might be more appropriate.

    Always be looking ahead, don't automatically believe what your HT says he means or believes & if he is known for playing games, consider always the possibility that what he says is actually the antithesis of the truth said with over conviction. Some HTs are honest and decent, others are not. Hopefully you will already know into which category yours falls.

    All just my quick thoughts - consider it and ignore it if you think it unhelpful.

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