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Letter to Head re: work-related stress?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by thethiefoftime, Dec 9, 2015.

  1. thethiefoftime

    thethiefoftime Occasional commenter

    I am extremely curious about the effectiveness of Theo's recent suggestion to write to our head teachers re: work-related stress and how it is having an impact on our health.

    I, for one, do not have the courage to do this at present. If you knew what kind of school I worked at, you'd understand why.

    I am, however, interested to know if anyone has actually tried this yet, and what came of it?
  2. ilovepoppies

    ilovepoppies New commenter

    A referral to OH, for a member of staff, resulted in a recommendation that all teachers should have a reduction of work load, with immediate effect.
    Following on from this, the support of an AST has been bought and all teaching staff have been given an extra hour for PPA, plus time with the AST.
  3. Compassman

    Compassman Star commenter

    I was referred to OH when I complained about stress caused by workload.

    OH made a number of recommendations and the whole report ignored.
  4. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    I was referred to OH after I had a very messy breakdown due to work related stress and anxiety. The OH doctor said that nobody could sustain my workload and made sensible recommendations in his report. His report was entirely disregarded by my then employers.
  5. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I went to OH for a slightly different reason. The head ignored the recommendations. The minor one about workload really angered them. It went through the grievance procedures and was eventually settled out of court.

    My current head wouldn't need a letter. I would just need to say something and it would be dealt with instantly. I'd also get follow up conversations to check that I was ok.

    If a head needs a letter to make changes I'd start considering a different school.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  6. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    A friend was being bullied by his HT and worked into the ground, so he wrote to the CoG. Nothing changed, other than a worsening of conditions.
  7. RedQuilt

    RedQuilt Star commenter

    Just thinking about what I wrote earlier and wanted to add a bit extra.
    The benefit of sending a letter, as Theo suggests, is that there is evidence in the form of a paper trail. If anything dreadful ever happened and somebody suffered harm through WRS severe enough to take legal action then it could be a very important piece of evidence.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  8. Flere-Imsaho

    Flere-Imsaho Star commenter

    This is also my experience.
  9. Cooperuk

    Cooperuk Senior commenter

    I've written a letter...but have not sent it yet.

    Writing it was quite cathartic...but I do wonder if the fallout from sending it would make matters worse.

    It may be worth it for the paper trail.
  10. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    Are there enough other teachers at your school who would be prepared to sign a round robin letter? That would stop you getting all the flak that might arise.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  11. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    If you have a decent headteacher it could very well work.

    If you have headteachers like I've known... well sign your own death warrant and paint a big target on your back.
  12. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Cover your back.

    Copies to OH, governors, SMT, union. Endeavour to get colleagues to sign too.
  13. thethiefoftime

    thethiefoftime Occasional commenter

    Thanks so much for the feedback.

    I presume OH means Occupational Health... who is this? Am I meant to have one of these to contact?

    Also, does anyone have an idea of how one would word a letter like this? I know that everyone's situation varies, but how would you write a generic one, @TheoGriff ?
  14. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    More or less as I said in my thread . . . I am reluctant to draft one and publish it on here, because the moment it becomes known that it is a model drafted by someone else, rather than written individually by the teacher or teachers affected, it loses all its strength. It just needs one Head to receive the same letter from 2 different teachers who don't work together, or one Head to be shown by another a letter identical to one received, for this to get out.

    This I feel is the weakness of the model letters sometimes drafted by unions, for you to write to your MP, for example.

    So although I am quite nifty at letter writing for individuals, this is one that I don't think I should write.

    This is what I said:

    So if your health is being impacted by your job as a teacher, or Headteacher, start drafting that letter:

    Write down exactly how you are feeling, list the work-related stresses on you and how you cannot cope physically, mentally or emotionally because of the overwhelming demands of the job. Say that it has seriously impacted on your health and wellbeing. If you have been to see your GP and been told that you are suffering from work-related stress, say so specifically. If there is a knock-on effect on your partner and your family, outline this too.

    Write this as a letter to your Headteacher (or other employer) and ask what specific steps will be taken by the school to alleviate the pressures on you in order to safeguard your health.

    Say you would wish to receive a response outlining these solutions within 5 working days in order to prevent a further decline in your health.

    You may like to send a copy to the Chair of Governors or Chair of the Academy Trust.

    N.B. As with all my suggestions on the forums, you must decide for yourself whether it is appropriate for you to write, and exactly what you should say. It should always be honest and truthful.

    Best wishes

    thethiefoftime likes this.
  15. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    When I started to have time off because of my eczema, I was referred to OH, which I found was a big mistake. The OH doctor disagreed with my consultant about the diagnosis, as well as stress being a possible contributory factor, and reported this back to the school, which made my situation even worse.
  16. applecrumblebumble

    applecrumblebumble Lead commenter

    This thread should keep going. Too many teachers forced out because of bullying heads and ignoring OH recommendations or their own GP's. When the time come that these cases reach the courts then change in teachers working conditions will occur.
  17. AlisonKatherineJones

    AlisonKatherineJones New commenter

    I am coming to join in as I am in a complex situation with this issue, and chose to go off sick, as no changes were made ~ I was pregnant at the time and the sick leave ran into my maternity leave. I am now feeling I should have done more about my stress at the time and should have felt more supported by my employer, but I was too unwell to cope with anything but getting through the days ... can I do anything about it now?
  18. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    You can certainly act to improve your current position @Cradlehag

    Or, at least, register your concerns and have them noted. This doesn't always lead to an amelioration of conditions but, if you want it on record, you will have to put it in writing.

    Nor is there anything to prevent you including your experience when pregnant as it is all part of the existing problem. If you portray it as useful information to help the school support pregnant colleagues in future then it looks as if you're wanting something positive to come out of it.

    Bottom line is that you feel unsupported so have some constructive ideas about what you think you need to show you have thought it through and are keen to do your best whilst achieving that illusory work-life balance (which, I THOUGHT, the employers had given lip-service to promoting).

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