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Scared to go to work - union not helping

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by kingdomforahorse, Apr 4, 2012.

  1. As things stand at work at the moment, I'm feeling very uncomfortable. I don't know what I've done wrong other than to be late for work on two occasions last term (I don't mean because I over slept but serious traffic incidents on the way to work meant the motorway was closed.) Obviously I rang school to explain I was delayed and apologised for this.
    The week beforewe broke up for the easter holidays, I was called in to the deputy head's office and really told off. I was told it was a "weak" excuse that I couldn't get in on time, that everyone else managed it and it was my choice to live where I did!
    I am a KS3 co-ordinator and I always organise a theatre trip for year 7s. This year, we have a very keen NQT who asked if she could help and I was pleased to let her. It seems she's complained to the HOD and deputy head that she felt overwhelemed and it has come across as if I burdened her with my workload when honestly that is not what happened. I did everything but talked her through it and involved her, which is what I thought she wanted, yet it has come across as if I bullied her into it which I certainly didn't (I'm not like that!)
    I was also told off for having my phone on my desk - I only use it as a "clock" as there isn't one in my classroom. I don't mind putting it away but the way it was brought up was really aggressive and intimidating. I was also told off for "losing" a child's book (I didn't - the child did) and told parents have complained, but didn't tell me which parents or even from which class.
    I was told there would be a follow-up meeting after Easter to discuss these "grave concerns" (that is what they said.) I rang my union when I got in from work as I was really upset and my partner (who is a HOD) agreed this was the best course of action. The union seemed very disinterested and just said that a meeting to iron out these problems that I had been involved with was a good plan!
    I don't see how being told off is a good plan, especially because I haven't done anything terribly wrong, as far as I can see - I couldn't really have predicted traffic accidents and the other things are just silly, yet it's as if they have been watching me and making notes all this time.
    I'm afraid to go to work and if they union aren't helping, what can I do?
     
  2. As things stand at work at the moment, I'm feeling very uncomfortable. I don't know what I've done wrong other than to be late for work on two occasions last term (I don't mean because I over slept but serious traffic incidents on the way to work meant the motorway was closed.) Obviously I rang school to explain I was delayed and apologised for this.
    The week beforewe broke up for the easter holidays, I was called in to the deputy head's office and really told off. I was told it was a "weak" excuse that I couldn't get in on time, that everyone else managed it and it was my choice to live where I did!
    I am a KS3 co-ordinator and I always organise a theatre trip for year 7s. This year, we have a very keen NQT who asked if she could help and I was pleased to let her. It seems she's complained to the HOD and deputy head that she felt overwhelemed and it has come across as if I burdened her with my workload when honestly that is not what happened. I did everything but talked her through it and involved her, which is what I thought she wanted, yet it has come across as if I bullied her into it which I certainly didn't (I'm not like that!)
    I was also told off for having my phone on my desk - I only use it as a "clock" as there isn't one in my classroom. I don't mind putting it away but the way it was brought up was really aggressive and intimidating. I was also told off for "losing" a child's book (I didn't - the child did) and told parents have complained, but didn't tell me which parents or even from which class.
    I was told there would be a follow-up meeting after Easter to discuss these "grave concerns" (that is what they said.) I rang my union when I got in from work as I was really upset and my partner (who is a HOD) agreed this was the best course of action. The union seemed very disinterested and just said that a meeting to iron out these problems that I had been involved with was a good plan!
    I don't see how being told off is a good plan, especially because I haven't done anything terribly wrong, as far as I can see - I couldn't really have predicted traffic accidents and the other things are just silly, yet it's as if they have been watching me and making notes all this time.
    I'm afraid to go to work and if they union aren't helping, what can I do?
     
  3. Change unions and have your rep go into the meeting with you - do you know who your local in school rep is? I was in a similar position with an NQT who made my live miserable and told everyone I was unprofessional, bullied her and slagged them all off. She used to make a big fuss about after school classes she was running which the kids wouldn't turn up to as they hated her and I would be sat quietly after school with students, but as SMT weren't around they thought it was the other way round. I was also late for work as I iused to throw up everyday before I went in through stress. In the end it was too much for me and in 2009 I took voluntary redundancy. I have never regretted in and I am now on long term supply and loving teaching again. She was promoted into my job as subject leader when I left so I guess she got what she wanted - she was demoted last year so I guess there is Karma. Clock wise you can get one for about £1.99 in Tesco so I would put your own up and get the phone away. With the NQT I would just not involve her in anything, you are not her mentor and you know she is trouble. If she offers to help smile sweetly and say you know she is really busy and you are fine. I am not sure what to do about the traffic accidents, but twice doesn't sound like too much. Most of all try not to let it spoil your holiday you will need your energy when you get back.
     
  4. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    A few things to home in on:
    You are entitled to know what - if anything - you have done wrong. Demand to know what it is and to see the evidence (if it actually exists). Being late twice is hardly the crime of the century.
    The only thing she should be very keen about is her teaching She should keep her nose out of things that don't concern her. Her motives may be pure, but I doubt it. It just sickens me that on the strength of an alleged complaint the DH automatically assumes that you are the one in the wrong.
    You are entitled to be spoken to with courtesy and civility.
    Might be nice if you'd been told some facts. I would argue that unless you are told who it is and have chance to reply you should say that you will not acknowledge the existence of the complaint.
    Nice bit of emotive language, meant to intimidate you.
    .
    Demand to know the details. Demand to know which aspects of your school's code of conduct you have allegedly broken.
    I suggest that you refuse to go to any meeting without a witiness and that has to be someone you trust. Assert yourself and demand to see evidence - not what someone else says it's evidence - but the evidence itself. You could always put in a counter-complaint about the NQT.
     
  5. baitranger

    baitranger Occasional commenter

    Have you been charged with murder?
     
  6. Thanks - Coffeekarma, I was led to believe unions would not support you over matters arising dating to before you joined. We don't have any in-school reps.
    Yes and I'm happy to do this but surely it doesn't fall under the category of "grave concerns" when all anybody had to say was "please could you put your phone away."
    It seems as if they are trying to find something terrible I have done to make me feel uncomfortable and intimidated and it has worked, I'm afraid.
     
  7. Georgia99

    Georgia99 New commenter

    I have been late for work twice due to traffic incidents since Christmas. On one occasion a major road was closed and half of the teaching staff did not get to the school until gone 10am. Things happen, be it a traffic accident, a sudden heavy load of snow....
    I agree with others advice. You need specifics of what you have done wrong, who has complained etc. It sounds like scapegoating or bullying.
     
  8. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    If there is no union rep, take someone else to the meeting with you - just any friendly colleague. Don't be intimidated about this. Make sure that things are minuted and that your side of the story is on the minutes.
    (I once had a tricky meeting, and I asked to bring someone from my union with me - I think I was the rep, but I called on my predecessor) . I was told "that won't be necessary". When I told the colleague I'd been going to bring, she went down and told the head that she would be coming - I am so grateful to her for having saved me that argument.)
     
  9. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Frustrum, your colleague is a gem. I'm glad she told him rather than asked him.
    Also, at the beginning of any meeting, you should clarify its status and if not happy with that, walk out and tell them you will not return until you have taken legal advice about being bullied. They don't like their own medicine.
     
  10. There is no one I could ask, though, and they won't want to be involved. I really don't want to go to the meeting alone, but with no school rep and the union refusing to get involved, it seems I have no choice!
    That meeting was horrible, really, really horrible.I've been at the school since 2007 and never had any problems so I don't understand why all of a sudden there are (apparently) complaints being made about me left, right and centre.
     
  11. Rockchick2112

    Rockchick2112 New commenter

    You should not be getting 'told off'- every member of staff deserves to be treated with respect by school management. Being told that something is a 'weak excuse' is an inappropriate way to speak to you and indicates that the deputy head is in fact a poor manager of people. You must not go to the meeting alone. If you do, you will probably be subjected to intimidating and highly critical comments and have no proof of what was said. You could ask them if you could record the meeting, but it's unlikely that they would agree, so you really do need an impartial witness in there with you to verify what was said. I would definitely join another union asap and make sure you take a rep along to the meeting- it's better to take a union rep from your local area rather than the school rep, as a school rep can often feel as if he or she is in an awkward position. I am wondering if someone is planning to push you out so that a job then becomes available at the school for someone's friend or relative- of course it might not be this at all, but this kind of thing does happen.
     
  12. You are entitled to bring any indepdendent 3rd party in so bring a friend, a family member whoever.
    Request in writing an agenda to be given to you a set time beforehand (at least 48hrs)- they are legally obliged to provide this and failure to do so means the meeting cannot go ahead. Whoever you bring in needs a notepad and pen and should take down everything! If nothing else it will unnerve them. Recap on everything in your own words prefacing everything with "Just to clarify I have understood you correctly, you say that on X date I failed to do Y" or "Can I just clarify that you have agreed to put X support in by Y date to support me as you have identified that I am not meeting Z target? And, you will provide me with the evidence of this by XYZ date. Is that correct?"
    On the surface you are just being professional but it will be blatant to them that you know your rights and they won't be getting away with anything underhand. Most bullies work through intimidation- do not let them intimidate you!!!
    Good Luck xxx

    PS My phone is always on my desk. I sometimes check it for messages, I have lost books a few times- these things happen and if a parent complained about it they'd be told to suck it up....the number of sheets/homeworks etc kids lose. Your school sound totally unsupportive. My advice is Get Out but Get Them first
     
  13. rosievoice

    rosievoice Star commenter

    Such a clever head: he thinks he is going to wreck your holiday, but he won't. (Classic tactic- nasty news on a Friday afternoon / start of a holiday / when access to union help is difficult. Funny, that)
    Instead, you can consider this as advance warning and preparation time. You can go into this "meeting" armed and prepared. Have notes and aide-memoires to hand, plan a strategy / study legislation / school policies (disciplinary and capability, even though they don't apply to you, be well-versed in them and don't be afraid to quote).
    Most of all, DO NOT GO ON YOUR OWN. Hell, I'll come in with you if you can't find anyone else. Insist your witness takes accurate notes, as you can bet your bottom dollar their minutes won't be in your favour.

    I don't wish to alarm you, but my gut feeling is that there is a game afoot. Get out as soon as you can.

     
  14. Generally speaking Unions will take you and provide some sort of local representation but they will be unlikely to provide a lawyer if you joined after the fact - a lawyer seems very unlikely here. Please do not be afraid of approaching union for help because you have been told something. You might find they are keen for your custom! Ask the union directly - see what they have to say before giving up on it. Please also consider becoming a rep in your school when all of this has died down - you can see how important it is and if not you -who?
     
  15. chriszwinter1

    chriszwinter1 New commenter

    Good advice from all the above posters. If there is no one in your school on whom you can rely, there's nothing to stop you choosing someone else from outside the school.
    Becoming a rep is also a good idea. If you do, there's training and that brings indemnification. Mind you, from what say about your colleagues you may not want to be the one who represents them when they need it.
     
  16. Firstly, your present union should be backing you; after all you pay them and therefore thy work for you! If the local office is not helping, go higher. You have a right to have them help/ represent you. Your situation sounds much more serious than the union seems to think, please call them again (regional or head office) and insist you get help from them.
    Before leaving your present union, if they still will not help, please make sure the one you intend to join will fully represent you should things become worse. Even if the present union do not think they need to do anything now, they might be more willing to help if things escalate.
    Back in the sands of time when I was teaching, I was in the situation of being in a reprimand meeting with no
    representation on my behalf, but the HT had the DH in as his witness/
    co-bully. Never again, now I would say, no witness no meeting! I thought I was going into a lesson feedback, so did not have any idea I was going to be grilled and therefore was not prepared.
    Finally, I must tell you, the teaching union I was with had been unable to pin anything on this awful HT for ages when approached by many disgruntled members of staff, but finally a senior member from their head office became involved when the problems in the school reached a peak and got me and several others a good result.
     
  17. PS. Get a copy of traffic reports for late days from police or local radio station. Have ready your solutions to clock- have bought one (wall as suggested or desk timer), lost book- you could copy another child's if you knew who child is & therefore the group.
    (In my experience, a 'lost' book is rarely truly lost, it is a prank by classmates, so check behind cupboards & radiators/ a jealous pupil stealing it/ the child themselves not completing their homework etc/ someone picking it up by mistake/ getting in with another class' set of books/ being picked up inside or with the text book used/ even just getting mislaid by the child or lost in their bedroom.)
     
  18. Don't be fobbed off with someone unhelpful from the Union. In my experience it sometimes depends who you get. Phone up central/regional office and make a fuss- you pay them to support you. Get someone who does union work full time, not a school rep. Sometimes I have not had a rep on site and I have found that a rep from another union will go in as a friend. But also start looking for somewhere else. Are you experienced and expensive? Perhaps that is the agenda.
     
  19. Yes to all of the above- I was in a similar situation - being "told off" by SMT and just slunk back into my corner and did nothing. It has taken me a LONG time to gret over it and get my confidence back. It is obvious they don't like me but so what- I KNOW I do a good job and if it happens again I will get everything in wrting.
    By the way - i did contact my union who were really supportive- I guess it just depends where you are.
    However you do it, get some support fronm someone you can trust.
     
  20. I have been through the same- in fact so similar, I have to agree with Rosievoice.
    My advice is make a full written defence to hand to the meeting. Answer all further questions robustly. Do not show any antagonism- appear to show humility- but don't admit to any thing that is not proven.
    If you leave your job- this will probably not affect your record or references and you will be seen to have put the record right. If you stay in the job- be very careful. It is a surface they will continue to scratch at in order to create substance from it.
    It is really a constructive dismissal but you won't find unions willing to support you if you resign over it . They will only fight to keep you in the job and that is what they ought to be doing. Get advice form an employment solicitor before or if you decide to leave. The best option is to get away from managers like this and find a much better job.
    They may have somebody lined up for your job and need you to make it available- it is not nice.
     

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