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Meeting about references-bad news?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Schools2015, Apr 20, 2017.

  1. Schools2015

    Schools2015 New commenter

    I have been offered a new job to start in September.
    I put my current head down as a reference as well as the deputy head. I was offered this job at the beginning of March and the school only received my reference from the HT yesterday and have called me in to discuss the reference.

    When I told my HT I was leaving they were really angry and have made my life difficult since but I don't know why as other staff have left and there has been no backlash. I have been at my school for 10 years(as a TA then teacher)and always put a lot into the job and never had any problems.

    Has anybody else been through this and been called in to discuss a reference? If the reference is bad is there anything I can do to prevent the offer being withdrawn?

    I don't know what my HT could have written but the way they have acted since I put in my notice has shown me another, malicious side which I never expected so can't begin to imagine what they have said.
  2. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Legally the HT isn't compelled to disclose exactly what he said but the NEW school must. Silly, I know.

    If the reference is neither accurate nor fair then read on.

    What if my employer lets me see the reference but it is factually inaccurate?

    Provided you bring the matter to his/her attention, your employer must rectify the error before submitting the reference.

    If the reference has been submitted already but the error is trivial (e.g. your name is misspelt) then you can inform the recipient yourself.

    If the reference has been submitted already and the error is likely to cause prejudice (e.g. you are said to have had more sick days than you did in reality), your Headteacher or the author of the reference (if they are different) should write to notify the recipient of the true position.

    Your employer owes a duty of care to the prospective employer, and to you, as the subject matter of the reference. A reference must be true, accurate and fair. It must not contain an unfair or misleading impression overall, even if any discrete components are factually correct. An inaccurate or unfair reference may be challenged by you or your prospective employer.

    What can I do if the reference is less than flattering?

    In most cases, there is very little you can do other than consider using another referee. It has to be accepted that a reference is not always going to be a glowing testimonial. It is, after all, the opinion of the referee, but it should be reasonably objective.

    Contact the NUT Adviceline, or Wales office, if you believe the author has given you a bad reference out of spite. You will need to prove that what has been said about you is both false and motivated by spite. It has to be obvious to someone who knows neither of you that the author wrote the reference maliciously.
  3. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    Good advice above. In addition speak to your Union. It is always wise to have references from different places - can you get another referee (even from some time ago)? If so, you can offer that to your new school.

    BTW Be honest with them - tell them about the difficulties you've had since telling your school you are leaving (so have a few examples ready to mention).
    ultimatedingbat and install like this.
  4. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I once had a meeting about references and, like you, got in a big panic.
    They just wanted to ask why I had given the DH of a school where I'd never taught. (He'd moved on from where we'd both taught.)

    Then another time I was called in to discuss a reference, but didn't get in a panic because of the simple answers the first time. I, like you, had given the head and deputy of the same school, but the references were very different. I just gave them a third referee from a different (very, very outdated) deputy from the school before.

    I'd go along and see what they ask. If it's awkward, ask for time to speak to your union and reschedule the meeting. If it's dead easy and simple then answer it yourself.
  5. install

    install Star commenter

    Yes -I knew a colleague who this has happened to.

    She explained that the school were furious and therefore were not keen for her to go. She brought along her PM record folder and evidence if success over several years.

    There are sadly some nasty methods that some hts use to not let their staff go. In this case the ht also cited absence - but she had genuinely been ill for 2 wks, the first major illness in several yrs.

    I think this maybe a case of your new ht just wanting to check everything is ok and is making you aware what your ht is up to...

    It may even be that the references do not match...one good and one not so good.
  6. Schools2015

    Schools2015 New commenter

    Thanks for the replies feeling a bit better now hopefully it is something I can explain myself just thought the worst due to what has been going on since giving in my notice.
    Possibly the references are very different, I have seen the one from the deputy head and it is glowing! He asked me to check it for accuracy before it was sent out and am sure that in light of my HT's recent behaviour towards me their one will not be so complementary- I do have other references from my school I could use if necessary. My HT had only seen me teach once (and gave me great feedback) and I have never had an actual conversation with him-school is run from the office so maybe the fact that he doesn't know me as either a person or teacher is evident in the reference.
  7. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    This is another reason why the CV/letter of application system was so much better than the forms of today-if people had been out of the workplace for some time, they could explain it.
    install likes this.
  8. delmamerchant

    delmamerchant Established commenter

    Really good advice given so far, do contact your union NUT/NASUWT advice lines for advice.

    I think it is good that the prospective/new employer must show you the reference. For too long unscrupulous employers have tried to scupper individual development by giving references that are not positive. I always thought that you could not give bad reference but I have seen a question on references that I have conscientious asking if I/you would employers this person.

    An acquaintance of mine couldn't understand why she was not getting jobs, she asked to see her references, shock! Horror! The I would not employ this person part was tucked no. This was from a member of staff that she had trained up and supporter through difficult times.

    Do you have tonnage a reference from the head?
    install likes this.
  9. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I would also take along copies of any (good!) feedback you have had from observations by HT, line managers etc. - Maybe even going back to NQT year.
  10. FarSideofParadise

    FarSideofParadise Occasional commenter

    When I applied for my first role during my PGCE year I used my former and current placement school as references. I was offered the job and accepted. A few days later I received a phone call from the head of my new school asking me to come in for a meeting regarding my references.

    The HoD at my former placement (also my A level teacher!) had given me a slanderous reference! It was completely untrue and very upsetting.

    My new school, however, were brilliant. The head invited me in as she found the reference odd and completely opposed to what she saw when she met me. I was given the chance to talk with her and dispute the claims made in my reference, which was then promptly discarded!

    People can be cruel, hopefully your new school will see through this.

    Good luck!
  11. Jolly_Roger1

    Jolly_Roger1 Star commenter

    I am surprised that schools have started applying for references after they have made job offers. AFAIK, it always used to be that references were taken up before the interview stage. I hope this does not apply to you but I have known one colleague who had her salary offer reduced on the basis of a supposedly 'unfavourable' reference the school had 'just noticed'. On the other hand, it could be something innocuous, such as a 'cut and paste' reference, which was not properly proof-read, where the gender pronoun changes,
    Piranha and Anonymity like this.
  12. install

    install Star commenter

    There are schools and academies now that ask for references after the 'job offer'.

    I honestly prefer it that way - forces all this kind of stuff to be out in the open.
  13. Fizzbobble

    Fizzbobble Occasional commenter

    I once had a poor reference given and it was untrue. It had significant errors and it was vindictive. Luckily, the head of the school I was moving to ignored it and said it was ridiculous of my old head to mess about with someone's career like that. He had actually bothered to watch me teach, unlike the head who gave the poor reference. Lots of friends who work in large academies are getting the bare bones of a reference. This must be happening more and more.
    install likes this.
  14. Schools2015

    Schools2015 New commenter

    Hopefully it can all be explained, the meeting is next week it is not nice having to wait to find out what has been said epically as HT is being so difficult, it is really childish stuff such as ignoring me and refusing to talk to me without an appointment!

    I have folders with evidence including observations and there had been any concerns about my teaching.

    I even have a report from my HT about me against the standards for a course I completed last year and this is what the reference asked for as I saw the one from the deputy head so I will bring that along.

    Does anyone know if I can offer another reference or does it have to be the head?
    install likes this.
  15. ultimatedingbat

    ultimatedingbat Established commenter

    If they're offering you a meeting and not just saying they are withdrawing the offer this is a good sign. I had an offer withdrawn over an untrue reference nad was given no chance to speak for myself.
  16. install

    install Star commenter

    I get the impression the job is still very much your's - they are doing the right thing by alerting you that possibly your ht is giving an unfair reference.

    You are in a position of being able to prove that your ht is wrong and resents you leaving. The deputy's reference though is fair and accurate.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2017

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