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Nightmare for recently qualified maths teacher

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by theroadlesstravelled, Feb 24, 2017.

  1. theroadlesstravelled

    theroadlesstravelled New commenter

    We were delighted when our son, a recently qualified maths teacher with two years experience, was offered a teaching post six months ago at a prestigious and highly rated state school. We could never have foreseen the nightmare which has resulted in his resignation earlier this week. He was required, as part of the PSHE curriculum, to deliver a sex and relationships module ... effectively to deliver sex education. Little was on offer from the school to prepare him for this which was clearly far beyond his comfort zone of trigonometry and simultaneous equations. He found useful intellectual capital on the Family Planning Association website which had previously been used in other schools and based his lesson delivery very closely on that material.

    He was astounded when the school suspended him with allegations that he used an improper teaching method {debatable} and disobeyed a direct instriction not to undertake the lesson {untrue}. The allegations were further embellished in the days and weeks after the event, seemingly to build a case for gross misconduct and dismissal. Regrettably his union membership had lapsed and so his key advisor has been an employment lawyer and not his union. He was advised that he had nothing to lose by resigning just before the school hearing as this hearing was likely to result in his dismissal.

    We had not realised that there was so much current stress and dissatisfaction in teaching. Before this current teaching post all of his school feedback and reports have been highly positive. We are now helping him to pick up the pieces after this experience. Our key questions are the following.

    1. We understand that the matter will be reported as a safeguarding issue and due process could take up to two years. What is the probability that he will be barred from teaching as a result?
    2. In the meantime can he continue to teach and in what capacity?. Is he likely to be employable at another school, work as a supply teacher or undertake private tuition?
    3. All things taken into consideration do we advise him to look to a career outside of teaching?
    4. Has the school acted in a responsible way by requiring a young and inexperienced maths teacher to deliver this highly sensitive subject?

    He is in the process of building contact with his union who can advise moving forward now that his lawyer is no longer active. All advice regarding this matter would be most welcome
  2. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    Safeguarding: talk to the union about this - obviously it's likely to depend on what he taught that was considered so inappropriate. If he hasn't already made a detailed written record of his version of events, he should do so.

    Any teaching job will need a reference from the previous school, and that will ask about any safeguarding concerns. So other schools and supply are probably out for the time being. Private tuition - there are no rules, so if he can find pupils, fine. However there is the possibility that parents of a tutee become aware of his dismissal, and that could be very awkward.

    It might be best to look at doing something else for the immediate future, and then decide whether or not to come back to the teaching when this is all cleared up.

    It's not unusual for all teachers to have to deliver PSHE - however when I was a young and naive maths teacher, I was very glad that a more experienced teacher came into each class in turn to deliver the more contentious sex and relationships elements. He should have been provided with very clear guidance of what was to be covered in that year group, and it seems somewhat surprising that he would have been expected to plan alone - there would have been other classes covering the same unit.
    pepper5 likes this.
  3. blueskydreaming

    blueskydreaming Lead commenter

    1. Why do you think it's going to be reported as a safeguarding concern? Has he shown/told them something grossly inappropriate in the lesson? If not, and if he's only used info from the website you mention, i.e. factual information, then I cannot see why this is a safeguarding concern. If it was a concern, the school should have already passed it on to the NCTL. However, even if the school has or will pass it on, the NCTL may reject it as a concern and not investigate it. Perhaps he should contact them directly to find out?
    2. He will be advised by NCTL if he is not allowed to teach (if he is investigated, he will not be allowed). However, if he is allowed to teach, he will probably have a problem getting a reference from his school, which will affect his ability to get a teaching job, even on supply.
    3. Depends how this pans out, although I imagine his confidence and trust are shaken so he may not want to return to schools.
    4. Whether they have or not, that is of no consequence. At my school I teach PHSE to my tutor group, but it's been decided that only the safeguarding person is allowed to teach the 'sexting' lesson, in case it does raise issues - that is sensible, in my opinion, but having me teach it instead would not be irresponsible per se. It would be good practice, especially in terms of sex education, to have properly designed schemes of work, or bought in resources, but again not having them is not irresponsible. Did he ask for support from HOD or someone else before preparing the lesson? He needs to make sure he retains any evidence, such as records of requests for help plus responses, the lesson plan and materials, etc. in case NCTL do investigate.

    Perhaps this is of interest? https://www.gov.uk/government/uploa...16/TM_info_for_teachers_updated_July_2016.pdf
  4. banjouk

    banjouk Occasional commenter

    2. In the meantime can he continue to teach and in what capacity?. Is he likely to be employable at another school, work as a supply teacher or undertake private tuition?

    As a maths teacher he could pretty much walk into a job at any mainstream school with a 'salary bump'. With the transition to an EBacc curriculum in secondary schools, what a maths teacher was doing teaching sex/ed is another story.
  5. wanet

    wanet Star commenter

    It is difficult to comment without knowing exactly what went wrong here. Agree that it is normal for all teachers to teach PSME, but there should be a scheme of work, which ought to link to suggested resources. I do wonder if he did / said something wrong? Possibly not admitted this to you as his parents. If he hasn't done this then there is no reson for him to lose QTS. also agree that he needs as much evidence as possible.

    But if he is cheesed off with all of this and education in general, then perhaps a different career is best.
    Rott Weiler likes this.
  6. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    If he wants to stay in teaching (& why should he, given his experiences) can I suggest an independent school or a schools abroad?

    BTW I always refused to offer sex & relationship education - when I started teaching I wouldn't have been allowed to do so (it was reserved, back then, for mature married teachers') - and is something I believe should only ever be undertaken by trained and carefully selected volunteers.

    PS it is remarkable how many times teacher who run into difficulties find they aren't a member of a Union. I'd have thought that, these days, any teacher with half a brain would check their union membership even before they check their flies are done up!
    pepper5 and Wilbur_Post like this.
  7. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    The school should complete the teacher misconduct referral form to the NCTL. They will complete an initial assessment to determine whether the case is serious enough to potentially result in a prohibition order (they aim to make a decision within 3 working days). If it is decided not to undertake an investigation, the school and the teacher are informed and no further action will be taken.

    If a formal investigation is carried out then the school and the teacher are informed and have 28 days to submit evidence. The NCTL will then consider the information and decide whether to refer the case to a professional conduct panel.
  8. phlogiston

    phlogiston Star commenter

    In the absence of union support, you possibly need to engage an employment specialist solicitor. Citizen's advice bureau may be of some help.
  9. lulu57

    lulu57 Lead commenter

    Even though I've had some very enjoyable times in teaching, my gut reaction would be to advise your son to get out now, while he's still young enough to retrain in another profession and doesn't have a mortgage round his neck. (I'm making an assumption here about his age and responsibilities, I know).
    He's lucky to have your support: he could manage the change with your support and limit the damage to his confidence and prospects.
    pepper5 and wanet like this.
  10. scott1980

    scott1980 Occasional commenter

    I hate teaching sex education. I have always taught it with TA support and in my first school I followed the channel 4 video for primary. In my next post there was no planning and I was asked to teach it so they bought me another copy of the same video. I think NQT'S nowadays are under so much pressure in schools. I too would advise changing careers if you can.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    Unfortunately, this teacher isn't in a union...:rolleyes:
  12. Caligraphy

    Caligraphy Occasional commenter

    I am loosing count of how many times I need to post this, but to all teaching and support staff - JOIN A UNION or other professional organisation.
    I'd does not necessarily reflect your political views but this proves the point. Bad things do happen.
  13. irs1054

    irs1054 Star commenter

    I agree with all previous advice. My own advice is for your son to give teaching up as a bad joke and go do something else. His well-being and skills are extremely valuable and you have a good demonstration how much education today in England values them. I wish your son well in whatever he decides to do.

    As far as teaching PHSE is concerned, I have been fortunate that I have never really had to teach this. I agree with Frank that this ONLY should be taught by well trained volunteers. My own (non-legal) opinion is that your son's school has failed in its "duty of care" towards your son and then blamed him for their shortcomings.

    It is particularly ridiculous that an NQT should be saddled with this sort of thing and it happens far too much. A similar incident was depicted in the "Tough Young Teachers" series when one of the male teachers was given sex education to teach. It is difficult to express how absurd this entire scenario is and equally difficult to express sufficiently powerful condemnation without running foul of the moderators.
    thatmaninthehat and pepper5 like this.
  14. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    Depends on the offence. Possibly, possibly not. As it was serious enough the likelihood of a disciplinary was dismissal, very possibly.
    No. He will have to use his current head as a reference and they are duty bound to report all safeguarding concerns. As his was of a serious enough nature to be likely to get him dismissed, it would be a foolhardy head who employed him before the case was concluded.
    Looks the most likely course of action, yes.
    As others have said, it is an entirely normal expectation that form teachers deliver PSHE, including sex ed to their form class. Your son could have sought advice and support if he was unsure.
    Unions don't get involved in matters which started before membership, so he probably needs to keep in contact with that lawyer, he may well need them.
    missRV likes this.
  15. theroadlesstravelled

    theroadlesstravelled New commenter

    Thanks to all who have responded today. 15 replies is excellent ... some general themes emerge and it is a sad reflection of teaching today that so many responses urge our son to find a career outside of teaching. Please continue to respond ... all comments welcome, particularly from those teachers who have left and now work outside the profession.
  16. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    I'm not at all sure that the school has classified this as a Safeguarding concern. What OP said is

    He was astounded when the school suspended him with allegations that he used an improper teaching method {debatable} and disobeyed a direct instruction not to undertake the lesson {untrue}.

    Hard to know what sort of misconduct that is supposed to be. Hindsight isn't terribly helpful here of course, but I do wonder whether the outcome might have been better if OP's son had been in a union and they had fought it. I'm not convinced this was the best advice from the solicitor and do wonder how much the solicitor knew about employment practices in schools in relation to safeguarding issues.

    He was advised that he had nothing to lose by resigning just before the school hearing as this hearing was likely to result in his dismissal.
  17. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    However, he went on to say...
    Which led me, and presumably others, to believe the OP's son had been officially told the offence was being reported as a safeguarding issue.

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