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My Head hates me

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by secretsiren, Jun 24, 2017.

  1. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    A bit of background pruned for anonymity.

    I've been HoD of English for several years at my current school. First years very successfully with excellent results. Recent years with totally new team, pretty poor results with inconsistency in teaching and application of policy (I asked for advice a few months ago about a colleague who was quietly not doing as asked - I was severely criticised in the Ofsted inspection we had shortly after I posted with regards to not ensuring consistency in my team). I have been working very hard on improving the teaching and learning in my department but didn't convince Ofsted of this. My Headteacher is relatively new in post (since the beginning of the academic year) and absolutely despises me. S/He blames me entirely for our poor Ofsted report, despite the fact that many other departments are criticised and there are factually incorrect statements in the report (I asked for these to be corrected or challenged before the report went live but nothing was changed). I'm ignored in meetings or else growled at. I have been left out of key decisions concerning my department and learn about them second or third hand from other people. I have tried to demonstrate progress by giving reports of what's happening - these were ignored and left unread. My previous excellent track record has been ignored, quite understandably given that my Head only really knows me from the last set of results, but I'm not being given any support or a chance to actually demonstrate what I am doing to improve things.
    Unfortunately, there are no jobs in my area at the moment that I could apply for but the situation with my Head is completely untenable. S/He obviously wants me out but I have nowhere to go and resigning without a job to go to is not an option for me as I am the primary breadwinner in my family. In the time between getting another job and now, how do I go about getting the Head to actually pay attention to the work I'm doing (and my department too) and support me?
  2. Yoda-

    Yoda- Lead commenter

    Ensure you are a member of a union and start keeping all correspondence and emails from your Headteacher. Copy emails to your own personal email as school emails can suddenly be lost.

    You need to have a backup plan. Look at your finances and see if you can produce some kind of financial buffer if the worse happens. Jobs may come up in the future, ensure your in a position to move to a non HOD post.

    It's important you are prepared for when she/he comes after you. Unfortunately this is the new reality, heads try and make things happen quickly when they start.

    Hope for the best but prepare for the worst. You have my sympathy. Hopefully other posters can be more optimistic than myself. Stay strong.
    1 person likes this.
  3. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Thank-you. I know that my shelf life at school is now limited regardless of what I do or any improvements in results (which I think unlikely given the new GCSEs meaning that results will be 'variable' and given the cohort that just sat them). I have already got a union caseworker with a case file although I've asked this to be put on hold so I can collate more evidence. My Head is quite canny - nothing goes through email or in writing but is all word of mouth or my perception of what's happening (e.g. the decisions made without my consultation).

    I just hope they give me long enough to find another job!
  4. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    Can I say something that may not be very popular? Having read some of your other posts, I know that you have several young children and that you talk about constantly feeling tired and counting the minutes until you can go to bed (to paraphrase). This is not compatible with holding down a demanding full-time post.

    I left my job in part because I'd spent several years working for someone who's mind was always on her child and who never seemed to be on top of things. Many mistakes, things forgotten and I often picked up the pieces. For the first 2-3 years I was sympathetic and happy to take on an extra load. Later on, not so much. She also had been well-regarded for the work she'd done prior to motherhood, but over the years this perception did change. I'm not saying you make mistakes and forget things, but you must be exhausted and that must impact on your performance.

    Can you review your budget, look at your partner earning extra income so that you can take on a less demanding job? It's no fun to work so hard at work and at home to then receive criticism.
    cach9801 likes this.
  5. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Not possible, I'm afraid. Plus, my performance really isn't an issue - I've passed my performance targets since I've been there and we had excellent results prior to my completely new team coming in. I was personally commended for my management of the department three years ago by the local authority and have glowing testimonials from people I've line managed, worked with and consultants. I've worked incredibly hard and I really don't think my home life impacts my work; if anything, my work impacts my home life rather than the other way round. I've never expected anyone to do additional work because of my home life - I try to lead by example and make sure my books are marked thoroughly and well all the time, that my reports are completed first so I can offer support to anyone who needs it, made sure my exams are marked first so we can moderate using my examples. Minutes from meetings are emailed around within a day and notes from meetings where department members aren't present are also shared as soon as possible. I am knackered on a daily basis but I don't know a head of English who isn't!

    If I genuinely thought my performance was an issue, I might think my Head had a point. But I completely disagree with the perception of me that s/he has. More than that, I really strongly disagree with the fact that their way of dealing with this is to ignore me, belittle me and pretend that I don't exist. I want to find a way of working with them that demonstrates my ability and at the moment, that simply isn't possible given that they're not reading my reports or analyses, nor engaging in a meaningful dialogue.
    jarndyce, peakster and pepper5 like this.
  6. frangipani123

    frangipani123 Lead commenter

    If that's the case, I do think that it's very difficult to change the Head's view of you in light of the poor report, however unfair that may be. Just keep on being professional until you are able to change job.
  7. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Does being professional include planning my leaving speech which ends in blowing a raspberry?

    No? Darn.
    secretteacher2357 and ViolaClef like this.
  8. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Hi secretsiren

    You definitely are in a difficult place at the moment because you are dealing with someone who is being unreasonable by not acting in a mature manner.

    You can't control their behaviour - only your own. The only thing you can possibly do is to take each day as it comes and continue to do your best. Remain calm and focus on your work now. The past is the past and you may not get beyond today.

    Even of the Head is not civil to you, continue to be civil to them.

    It is four weeks until the summer and you will have finished. Try to take some time off during the summer and go back fighting in September. Things have a way of working themselves out beyond what we know at present. Try not to look too far ahead.
    SundaeTrifle, sabrinakat and peakster like this.
  9. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Plus, Imknow this isn't helpful, bit am sending you a big hug.

    ViolaClef likes this.
  10. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Thank-you. You're right - calm, professional, work hard...can't do anything else!
    ViolaClef and pepper5 like this.
  11. pepper5

    pepper5 Star commenter

    Yes, work hard and I am not advocating laziness, but don't work too hard.

    Exactly. Can't do anything else and enjoy your Sunday.

    Try to enjoy part of today without work.
    install likes this.
  12. tb9605

    tb9605 Established commenter

    As several posters have put - speak to your union (you mention a caseworker) but also other union members in your setting. If you find that the Head has been treating others in a similar manner, perhaps there might be a cause for collective action - at the very least your Union Rep can insist to the Head that decisions are put in writing and communicated in a timely manner. You've presumably heard of how Union action Winterbourne Academy managed to eject a deeply unpopular Head? I've also just witnessed a frankly astonishing example of how Union members acting together caused the Leadership at my setting to U turn on a decision in the space of week.

    Things can happen when people band together. Good luck!
  13. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    If there are no written proofs then you need to add to your case file your own notes written as soon as possible and with time and date (send an email to yourself for this).

    The point is that you can state categorically in 6 months'/a year's time that you heard these exact words then because you know you wrote these notes so many minutes after and haven't changed them since. These are called contemporaneous notes and very useful should it end up in an industrial tribunal or even representing to governors. Similarly for any colleagues following the same path as you.

    My sympahies, it's a lot easier to tell you what to do than have to do it.
    ViolaClef and sabrinakat like this.
  14. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    A hug is always helpful, @pepper5!
    install and pepper5 like this.
  15. ViolaClef

    ViolaClef Lead commenter

    Sorry to hear things are not going well, @secretsiren. Do your best to relax this evening and put the Head and school out of your mind - easier said than done, I know. Keep being professional, keep doing your best, keep records as recommended above and start turning your focus to keeping a lookout for a new post where your talents and skills will be welcomed, supported and appreciated.
    install and pepper5 like this.
  16. install

    install Star commenter

    My advice - ignore your ht. Stop being concerned about getting the ht's approval.

    Carry on building your strong team. Let your team know everything that happens to you and what you are doing to support them. They are more reliable than your ht to you. It is them that will see you through - so build here.

    In other words - be the Leader that your ht isn't. Be Supportive , assertive and open to those below you. And before you know it - they will win your battles for you.

    Good luck...and never ever be scared of your ht or feel you need to impress them. Because that is when they have you trapped anyway.
    Last edited: Jul 7, 2017
  17. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    Excellent advice. Thank-you to all who've taken the time to respond and give such considered ideas.
    I have been completely professional and been focussing on my team, which has been lovely. I've got several new teachers in my department next year who seem great so I'm trying to be positive. I have to say though that when I think about the GCSE results and the almost certain drop in results, I feel physically sick.
    install likes this.
  18. Spiritwalkerness

    Spiritwalkerness Star commenter

    Recalling the member of staff who wasn't playing ball - are they lining themselves up to take your place - if the space became free?
  19. secretsiren

    secretsiren Star commenter

    They're leaving. They applied for and got a job in a promoted post in a different school. I'm really pleased for them and think they'll be great in their new role. I did point out that the hardest part of the job is managing people who don't want to do as they're asked and we had a bit of a rapprochement. My colleague admitted they'd dropped the ball and apologised; I wished them lots of luck and support and it ended pleasantly.
    I have to confess though that I am a weeny bit relieved that they're off!
    Snorkers likes this.
  20. install

    install Star commenter

    Results are bound to fall with the new 100 percent Exams - not your problem. But schools are playing games here - some have not given English anymore time in light of the new heavy content of 2 very tough exams.

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