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Referencing students' behaviour

Discussion in 'Behaviour' started by penandink, Apr 10, 2011.

  1. My school has recently received a reference from my last school stating that I had some problems with behaviour in the classroom. Other elements of the reference are very good. However it seems this is a sticking point for my school now. I have explained that, yes, I had behavioural problems with one class in particular, that was mirrored throughout the school and it was found that the girls involved had made a facebook hate site about me and a few other teachers which was causing the ongoing problems. Im fairly certain the girls were gang related.
    I was a supply teacher at the time, no one spoke to me about my handling of this group, other than to tell me to drop my standards and lower my expectations nor did I get much support in terms of HOD and HOF detentions. I tried to put the girls on report but they just tore up the reports, screamed at me and left the room. I used to lock my door through lunchtime as they would bang on my windows and doors constantly or run into my classroom at will, screaming and carrying on.
    I will admit that it was the worst teaching job I have ever had and soon after I left and got a job in a much friendlier school and have had no major behavioural issues- in fact I would say my classroom mgt is one of my strengths. When I left my last school the mgt asked me if I would make a complaint to the police about these girls...they said that they wouldnt but would back me to do so. I just wanted to be rid of the entire scenario so I did not follow this up.
    My head has called the previous HOF who wrote the reference and she refuses to alter it in any way. She now says that there were complaints by parents however is not prepared to give any evidence and I have never heard about this so the reference is getting worse.
    My school is now trying to terminate my contract on the basis of this reference even though I have worked for them for nearly a year and I have had no problems at this school and have never had disciplinary or competancy actions. I realise that they dont want to lose me but their hand is being forced as it is not a good reference.
    Can I be held responsible for the behaviour of these students even though I did my utmost to combat it and to restore order to my classroom? Is it reasonable grounds for dismissal in a subsequent job?
    Thank you for any advice you can give me.

  2. I can't give you any direct advice, except ......... call the union office.
  3. baitranger

    baitranger Senior commenter

    I agree with posters who say you need to get a copy of the reference and to ask an employment solicitor about it.Also, show the solicitor any correspondence and anything in writing from your school.
    If the reference merely states that you had some behavioural problems with one particular class and that is factually correct, there is a question about whether the reference is both fair and balanced. Most teachers can be expected to have some problems with behaviour these days, so you are entitled to ask why the reference refers to it specifically and if it is intended to characterise your behaviour management generally.
    If the reference places undue emphasis on behavioural problems that were limited to only one class and the problems were acknowledged as not being your fault by your previous employer, then there is a question mark about whether the reference is fair and balance.
    There is also a question about whether your current employer is placing undue emphasis on one item in the reference, if it does not charaterise your performance as a whole and whether it is reasonable to terminate your contract on that basis, particularly as you have had no problems there for one year. The reference does not state that you are not suitable to be a teacher and your performance in your current job has been at least satisfactory, so there seems to be no good reason for terminating your contract.
    Get proper legal advice and don't rely on anything in a forum such as this.
  4. It sounds to me more like you are being used as some sort of scapegoat. Your school can employ whoever it wants, the head and the safeguarding excuse is a cover up for something else. Have you seen this reference yet? If they wanted to keep you they could choose to effectively disregard the reference, certainly when you have demonstrated the work you say you have in the last year. There's got to be something more to this, either the reference states something more concerning than behavioural issues with a single class (for which your new school has first hand evidence to the contrary) or you were part of the planned cuts. Sorry to sound cynical but it simply makes no sense and when you consider that teaching staff are put on capability in establishments yet manage to move onto another job it has to make you question this scenario.
  5. Thanks, you have raised some important issues which I will discuss with my union rep and see if she picks up on the same thing. Her initial response was similar to the last couple of posters in that she thought there was more to it...but I have seen the reference. Its fairly straighforward and as I said initially for the most part it is positive- good subject knowlege, got on well with staff, punctual etc. It had 2 negative statements one that I had some behavioural problems in the classroom and the other that I had absences. I know I didnt have absences as I was working on supply. Ive had my payslips and double checked. I can only assume that the writer of the ref doesnt realise I was working part time, but because I have the evidence to show that its incorrect Im not worried about it effecting my heads decision. The fact that the reference contains incorrect information means I should be within my rights to ask for another one to be written and to make sure that the writer knows all of the terms of my employment.
    As you say I may have been part of the planned cuts/ restructuring. Our school voted against compulsory redundancies but even if I had been made redundant I would have at least been given notice rather than my 'Alan Sugar' firing which the union referred to it as. It has occurred to me that both schools are in the same LA and that the reference has just surfaced and become an issue after one year of working happily at the school. I wasnt aware that a HT could make her own decisions around this as she has told me she is unhappy with the decision and that it is the borough that is forcing her hand. Am I being naive?
  6. Ive had one more general conversation with someone from the Union but no specific information or advice and with it being the holidays I cant see that there will be much movement until we go back. Ive signed on today so if the worst happens Ill be able to feed us and pay the rent.
    As far as I know no work has been arranged for the students in late April...Ive moved all my resources so I hope they have someone who knows what theyre doing. I got a slight feeling that it was all prearranged as no one was in a panic about work etc. I will have to wait until school reopens to see what theyre doing. I hope to be back in the classroom with all this behind me but I have a suspicion the best I can hope for will be a pay off of some sort and to try to sort this mess out from there.

  7. peterdevon

    peterdevon New commenter

    This is very worrying. It sounds as though your only contact with the union is the rep at your school. You should be dealing with regional or national office. You union will have a members' contact number that you can get advice on. Which union are you in?
  8. DaisysLot

    DaisysLot Senior commenter

    It is unreasonable for this reference to be brought up as a reason cited for 'firing' you after so long. If there are 'safeguarding' issues, they are more to do with the fact that the school failed to follow safeguarding protocol and recruitment procedures at the time of your appointment... more of a reflection on them than you at this stage.
  9. Random175

    Random175 New commenter

    This stinks. I think they need another redundancy and you are cheaper than a redundancy. Not sure your union will be any good given what you have said so far, may be a solicitor expert in employment law could put the wind up them. Good luck.
  10. Sorry I havent responded for a while. Ive been going through the slow and painful wait day by day to see 'what the LA say'. As I suspected they left everything in the hands of my HT and I was informed me yesterday that I had 'nothing to worry about'.
    It has left me feeling really really angry. My relationship has been damaged with my HOD when I found that my job had been written out of the curriculum when I returned from Easter break, Ive had no communication from those in my dept who I thought would stick by me and see this for what it was. Luckily Ive been in school and Ive had tremendous support from my friends and colleagues, but no one could understand why I had been removed and Im sure it did cross their minds that I was hiding a dreadful secret.
    I tend to agree that it was a redundancy by any other name (but without support, without notice and being fired and removed on the spot!)
    Ive had to be reinstated as the union pointed out that since nothing was put in writing nothing had actually happened.
    But it has happened and its been incredibly painful and destructive. My confidence is low and and my joy in my job has gone. My holidays have been filled with stress and bewilderment and fear of the future. I feel my reputation, within my department at least, has been damaged irrepareably.
    I would like to think I have some sort of recourse....any ideas?

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