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Problems with Head/Line manager

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Applejacks9, Jan 9, 2019.

  1. Applejacks9

    Applejacks9 New commenter

    I work in a school (in a support role) and we recently had a change of Headteacher (who is my line manager). The new Head's style of management was very different from that of the previous two Heads I'd worked under. It was not just the style I was being loaded up with more work and shorter deadlines. In desperation and following one particularly unsupportive meeting, I wrote to the Head in very clear terms stating I felt very pressured and stressed by the increase in complexity and volume of the work and the fact that it was coming at me from all seven of the senior leaders (in the past the previous Heads had always worked with me to manage priorities and deadlines).

    He responded by ignoring our Managing stress and H&Safety policies and instead presented me with an 'informal support plan' which reduced deadlines, and listed actions, measurements and timing for my improvement. This did not feel like the support I could and should have received under the appropriate policies, it felt and look more like the start of 'informal' capability procedure. I refused to sign his support plan and four weeks later and under continuing pressure I became sick suffering with panic attacks and anxiety, due to stress at work. A month after becoming sick the Head and HR asked to refer me to Occupational Health, to which I agreed. The Head had to fill out the OH referral which was to be sent to a GP specialising in OH (recommended by the Trust/HR). The problem is that when I received the Heads statements in the OH referral document for my approval. He had made omissions of facts and not been totally honest.

    Firstly, he stated that he was not aware of any work related issues that had contributed to my becoming ill, even though he was in possession of my email of two months earlier setting out my concerns of work related pressure and stress. so this is a blatant lie.

    Secondly, in the OH referral he stated I was struggling to cope with work and he'd 'supported' me with his 'informal support plan'. He wrote in his statement that I was both 'Happy with' and 'fully supported' his plan. This again is untrue as I had told him in no uncertain terms that I did not agree with it (as it didn't address the workload/pressure/stress issues I'd raised) and I refused to sign it.

    As I understand it the OH referral form is a formal document to enable the GP/OH professional, to arrive at an accurate assessment, diagnosis and prognosis, and therefore make effective recommendations to the school, regarding issues of the health and wellbeing of the staff member concerned. Therefore there is an overriding duty of trust and care, both expressed and implied placed on the Headteacher/Line manager to be honest and truthful when filling out this form.

    What is the best way to proceed to ensure that what the Head has done is investigated and dealt with effectively?
  2. chelsea2

    chelsea2 Star commenter

    I can't advise, but I'm bumping this up.
  3. dancemad

    dancemad New commenter

    When something similar happened to me- the wording on the OH form was more that it was me struggling the rather than the poor management of situations id asked for help with/ lack of support and other factors which were causing the issues of my illness. I told the HR manager that I disagreed with some of it and wanted to add / amend some information to this (as I felt it was skimming over the things causing me the most stress) before I’d sign it and it be sent to OH which I was allowed to do. When I had the meeting with OH he had these extra notes that I had made as all had been sent to him by HR which enabled him to give the school his advice regarding my return to work etc. OH were very much on my side. I decided following a phased return to work that the main cause of the problem probably wasn’t going to change and so I resigned and am now much happier where I am 10
    months on. Good luck.
    Stiltskin and JohnJCazorla like this.
  4. FrankWolley

    FrankWolley Star commenter

    I hope you are in a (supportive) trade union. If so share your experiences and (justified) complaints with them and take their advice. If not, I really don't know what you can do expect get legal support (expensive) or look for another job...you may want to do the latter anyway.
  5. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Consult your union asap.

    What the head has written on the form isn't some definitive truth that OH have to accept. It's the head's perspective. You don't agree with it, so you tell OH what your perspective is.

    You could raise a grievance or even make a misconduct allegation to the Academy Trust. But I strongly recommend you don't. It won't help you.
  6. MsBehaving

    MsBehaving New commenter

    Please seek advice from your union. I agree legal help and grievances are costly both in fiscal and emotional terms. You can add notes and ask to see any report before it is sent to your employer. It does sadden me that this nonsense continues in so many schools. People outside of teaching never believe it.
    Use OH to help you even if it's just to give you the strength to leave. Good luck xx
    agathamorse and JohnJCazorla like this.
  7. Applejacks9

    Applejacks9 New commenter

    Thanks for the 'bump' and the good wishes and advice received so far.

    On receipt of the OH referral from in which my Head/Line Manger had written materially inaccurate/lies in, I immediately wrote to the Trust HR dept (who were dealing with this referral). I wrote in evidenced detail highlighting the Heads False statements made in the referral and explained that I had written evidence (which HR could check with the Head) that he had not been truthful. It took HR six working days to get back to me with an amended OH referral form. I agreed that this more reflective/accurate referral form which HR had 'negotiated' with the Head could go forward to the OH provider.

    At my OH assessment I will be sharing the Heads original OH referral form, my detailed request to HR that it was inaccurate and my evidence to demonstrate that for whatever reason the Head had chosen to lie, and I had to challenge this with HR before I would agree to the referral.

    However, I'm quite happy that the OH report will be thorough and require a phased return, an individual and job/role related risk assessment, adjustments to work load and no doubt highlight the importance of the school following our managing stress/Health and safety policies in relation to stress and that there appears to be 'management' issues which have contributed and exacerbated the problem, but that's not really my question, which is:-

    What is the best way to proceed to ensure that what the Head has done is investigated and dealt with effectively?

    The Head who under Health and Safety Law and both the schools and Trust policies (which accept and embed the Health and Safety Executive Management Standard for dealing with stress at work) has, having been formally 'notified' that I was suffering from excessive pressure and stress at work; not only failed to provide the support under those policies which they are legally obligated to do. But once I'd become sick, knowingly written two false statements in the OH medical referral to cover this up. All this is a matter of fact with written evidence to prove it. As the Trust, School, Governors and the Head/Line manager all owe 'a duty of care' (and in the Head/Line Managers case when filling out the OH referral a separate 'duty of trust') but have different responsibilities and exposures to the Head/Line Managers behavior.

    My question is remains, What is the best way to proceed to ensure that what the Head has done is investigated and dealt with effectively?

    Regarding unions. My experience of them and that of other people I know, is that they are disinterested, lack competence and are ineffective.
  8. scienceteachasghost

    scienceteachasghost Lead commenter

    As soon as your performance is questioned at work in this way (for whatever reason) - and sometimes it can literally be a change in line manager, Head etc, the long term strategy for your own sanity is probably to get out.
    What is happening in your current school (falsification of documents/information etc) might be worthy of getting compensation over and fighting on principal. Ask yourself it is worth it.
    agathamorse likes this.
  9. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    So the head wrote a draft OH referral, the draft was sent to you to check before it was sent to OH, you asked for it to be changed, it was, and you approved the final form which was actually sent to OH? I don't mean to sound unsympathetic but really this isn't grounds for making formal disciplinary allegations against the head, for having the head "investigated and dealt with".

    It will just bog you down in more stress. From what you post there is virtually zero chance of the head being "dealt with" in the way you would like, and you have not made life any easier for yourself by refusing to involve your union.

    And some things that you say are facts are actually only your opinion. eg you say the head had "knowingly written two false statements in the OH medical referral to cover this up. All this is a matter of fact...". What the head wrote is a matter of fact but it is not a matter of fact that the head knowingly made false statements. That is only your assumption. You don't know the reasons why the head wrote what wrote in the original draft. That the head agreed to change it in the final version is not evidence that they deliberately lied. A statement that is wrong is not automatically a deliberate lie and basing a disciplinary allegation on that will not get very far

    Focus on the OH referral and the outcomes of that.
    chelsea2, Pomza, Flanks and 2 others like this.

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