1. This site uses cookies. By continuing to use this site, you are agreeing to our use of cookies. Learn More.
  2. Hi Guest, welcome to the TES Community!

    Connect with like-minded professionals and have your say on the issues that matter to you.

    Don't forget to look at the how to guide.

    Dismiss Notice

Set up to fail - Less identifiable post.

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by mensund, Jan 5, 2012.

  1. I thank everyone for their support about my dilemma and yet the more I read through the several posts from people who seem to be finding themselves in similar situations I get more and more frightened. I read that if I accept a Compromise Agreement my career is effectively over (does that mean supply work too?).

    I have been signed off for a further period from work and today found out that my blood pressure is 'significantly elevated' something which has never been a problem before. My doctor was alarmed enough by this to suggest I see her again very soon for more readings so that she can get me onto medication asap to control it. I have noticed pains in my right arm and loss of feeling in my middle to little finger on my right hand. All since this started to happen to me. All of this is affecting my mental and physical health and yet all the signals seem to be that the school are going to win and there's little or nothing that I can do about it. I will go to bed tonight and I will lie there with my thoughts spinning around for hours. Eventually I will fall asleep. Then, around 6am I will wake up and my thoughts will immediately jump to the situation I find myself in. I'll lie in bed for hours. Not bothering to get up and in fact it might even get dark again before I get out of bed. I have become agoraphobic. The other day it took THREE attempts just to go to the local shop to buy milk. Panic attacks that I had been able to control previously are now back with a vengeance.

    I have also been referred to Occupational Health - what happens there and whose 'side' are they on? My doctor said that they would probably require access to my medical records but that I should not worry on that score. My doctor has been fabulously supportive in all of this.

    EVERYONE that I've related my situaltion to says that I'm being pushed out and bullied and I swear that I have told the story truthfully and not in a way that leaves out any of my shortfalls - I spoke to another teacher (not from my school) today who said that 70% of the teachers in his school would be suspended if getting behind with markiing was a suspension offence. So ... why does the Union person keep saying that my predicament is unlikely to have a positive outcome? I feel like they don't want to get into a fight. Im reading through posts for a glimmer of light but can't see one anywhere!

    It has been suggested to me that I serve the school AND the Authority with a Subject Access Request (Data Protection Act 1988) requesting all documentation and emails that have me in them or me as the subject as well as my full employment records and any entries about me in the Headteacher's log and in the minutes of any meetings. It has been suggested that I request to be able to record the investigatory interview and (if they refuse to let me) ask for stenographic records to be kept. Others have suggested that this will just p*** them off even more and make them more determined to ruin my life.

    If these posts are a little disjointed or ramblimg - apologies but I'm sort of typing my thoughts as they come to me.

    Oh my God! Why is this happening?
     
  2. I thank everyone for their support about my dilemma and yet the more I read through the several posts from people who seem to be finding themselves in similar situations I get more and more frightened. I read that if I accept a Compromise Agreement my career is effectively over (does that mean supply work too?).

    I have been signed off for a further period from work and today found out that my blood pressure is 'significantly elevated' something which has never been a problem before. My doctor was alarmed enough by this to suggest I see her again very soon for more readings so that she can get me onto medication asap to control it. I have noticed pains in my right arm and loss of feeling in my middle to little finger on my right hand. All since this started to happen to me. All of this is affecting my mental and physical health and yet all the signals seem to be that the school are going to win and there's little or nothing that I can do about it. I will go to bed tonight and I will lie there with my thoughts spinning around for hours. Eventually I will fall asleep. Then, around 6am I will wake up and my thoughts will immediately jump to the situation I find myself in. I'll lie in bed for hours. Not bothering to get up and in fact it might even get dark again before I get out of bed. I have become agoraphobic. The other day it took THREE attempts just to go to the local shop to buy milk. Panic attacks that I had been able to control previously are now back with a vengeance.

    I have also been referred to Occupational Health - what happens there and whose 'side' are they on? My doctor said that they would probably require access to my medical records but that I should not worry on that score. My doctor has been fabulously supportive in all of this.

    EVERYONE that I've related my situaltion to says that I'm being pushed out and bullied and I swear that I have told the story truthfully and not in a way that leaves out any of my shortfalls - I spoke to another teacher (not from my school) today who said that 70% of the teachers in his school would be suspended if getting behind with markiing was a suspension offence. So ... why does the Union person keep saying that my predicament is unlikely to have a positive outcome? I feel like they don't want to get into a fight. Im reading through posts for a glimmer of light but can't see one anywhere!

    It has been suggested to me that I serve the school AND the Authority with a Subject Access Request (Data Protection Act 1988) requesting all documentation and emails that have me in them or me as the subject as well as my full employment records and any entries about me in the Headteacher's log and in the minutes of any meetings. It has been suggested that I request to be able to record the investigatory interview and (if they refuse to let me) ask for stenographic records to be kept. Others have suggested that this will just p*** them off even more and make them more determined to ruin my life.

    If these posts are a little disjointed or ramblimg - apologies but I'm sort of typing my thoughts as they come to me.

    Oh my God! Why is this happening?
     
  3. ScienceGuy

    ScienceGuy Occasional commenter

    A compromise agreement does not mean that your career is over. A former colleague of mine had one and moved from being a HOD to a standard classroom teacher at a different school. Within three years he had three promotion and was an Assistant head.
    To some extent it does depend on what is causing your problems. In his case it was working in a very difficult school with management that did not realise how deep the problems were across the school and in a department which had been the joke in the school for the last few years. Consequently he suffered from depression caused by stress. Changing schools allowed him to recover his health (which apparently started to improve from the day he resigned himself to leaving). If there are other health problems then you need to get them treated as well but when you are fit and healthy you can move forward again in your career
     
  4. aw27

    aw27 New commenter

    I would agree, dont assume its the worst outcome. The situation you are in is very unfair and no solution is going to reflect this and even it up, you will very likely lose out in some way, be it financially or emotionally, and as such you need to begin to investigate what will be the 'least worst' option for you and your personal circumstances.
    A CA was a good move for me personally and with a bit of research (and a lot of help from these forums!) I ended up in a situation which I would now say is better than I was in before.
    It's horrible, no one will say any different, and hold onto the fact that it quite clearly seems that you have been set up and you are not the one at fault.
     
  5. Gardening Leaves

    Gardening Leaves New commenter

    I would suggest that you ring your union HQ tomorrow and ask to book a call with their in-house solicitor. Explain to the union that you have been dealing with your regional rep but that you feel he/she has not engaged with the precise detail of your situation.
    If I remember correctly from your first post, there are others at your school who have been pushed out as they become more mature. Either way, you feel it likely that you have been targeted as 'old wood' by your Head. If this is the case, the Head's behaviour may well be in breach of the 2010 Equality Act. It makes discrimination on grounds of age equally as serious as discrimination on, say, grounds of race or disability.
    You haven't said with which union you are involved. However, the NUT website carries an excellent section on discrimination, bullying (harassment) and your rights. http://www.teachers.org.uk/node/9287
    When you speak with the union solicitor, emphasise that your case cannot be taken at face value, as a capability/misconduct case, but is a bullying case. Quote their own guidance back at them. Tell them that you have been seriously and deliberately injured by a Head who has made malicious allegations against you.
    If, after all this, you cannot get your union to listen, PM me and I will give you the name of the lawyer who is fighting my not-so-dissimilar case for me, if you want it.
    Clearly this awful situation is making you very ill. It's good that your doctor is so supportive. The symptoms you are experiencing are 'normal' reactions to traumatic experience. That your Head is inflicting this injury on you deliberately or recklessly is a very serious matter. My experience of OH was that they were very supportive. They are employed by the local authority but are consultants specialising in OH. A doctor compromises his/her professional integrity if they do not place the employee's health at work at the fore of their assessment. The OH consultant I saw put very heavy pressure on my LEA to back off disciplinary proceedings.
    Obviously I do not know what evidence you can amass. However, taking your situation at face value, I believe a good lawyer could have recourse to a number of options for you: a discrimination claim; a claim under the Protection from Harassment Act and, perhaps more easily, an Employment Tribunal claim for constructive/unfair dismissal.
    If you sign a Compromise Agreement, you will sign away your right to take your case to an Employment Tribunal for unfair/constructive dismissal and discrimination (usually) and, potentially, to take any other form of action.My own CA does not comrpomise my ability to take any other form of legal action other than an employment tribunal. However, I know of at least one other that attempts to compromise the right to take ANY action, including for harassment.
    In the short term, you need either your union solicitor or a harassment specialist to fire a very big warning shot over the your Head's bows. She should be reminded of the consultant who recently won £4.5 million in an employment tribunal for discrimination and harassment: http://www.judiciary.gov.uk/Resources/JCO/Documents/Judgments/reserved-remedy-tribunal-decision.pdf
    In the longer term, I would suggest the way to tackle this wretched woman is to take the 360 degree approach I took to challenging mine:
    • apply to have personal data about you disclosed by first your LEA and then the school, under the Data protection Act. There is excellent guidance on the Information Commissioner's website on how to do this: http://www.ico.gov.uk/for_the_public/personal_information.aspx
    • If you want more specific help, I have a letter template and specific guidance that I am happy to email to you.
    • I suggest you make a SAR of your LEA FIRST and the school a little later. The reason for this is that the LEA's Data Protection Officer, far removed from the school and with no axe to grind, will just do what the law demands and send you the information.
    • If your Head has something to hide, however, she is likely to illegally withold information, such as derogatory emails about you. Chances are, however, that you will have already got them from the LEA's disclosure. Bingo! You have caught out your Head in illegal activity and can make a complaint to the Information Commissioner about this. If she fails to comply with the request for disclosure that you later discover she has unlawfully withheld, she's in trouble.
    • You could also apply for an Industrial Injury Declaration (and therefore benefit). This takes ages but the benefir is that it is investigated independently by the DWP and this independent investigation can be useful evidence to use in a court case.
    • It is difficult to get IIDB for psychological injury (although you now have a physical one as well) and even harder to have 'bullying' cited as the reason but it is possible - I have it. Again, if I can help I am happy to share with you exactly how to go about approaching this to maximise chances or success.
    • The advantage of doing this is that you will have to report your injury to the employer, and cite the Head's specific behaviour as the cause. Alarm bells will ring in your LEA who will despatch someone from the legal department to see your Head. Your Head is bound to lie and say that there was no incident. Bingo - you've got her again. The LEA will be very fed up because they will fear the potential for your claim to become a personal injury claim that could cost them a six-figure sum. It helps to create a situation in which your Head's position becomes untenable.
    • You could also make a complaint of misconduct against the Head through the grievance procedure, ending with the new regulator, the Teaching Agency. Again, the Head will lie and wriggle and, in the first instance, governors and the LEA may collude in covering up for her. However, by the time it gets to the Teaching Agency, Mr GOve has undertaken to ensure that such complaints are investigated thoroughly. Again, this is likely to make your Head very unpopular with the LEA, especially when they see the whole picture that is emerging. The Head's earlier lies to the LEA about you will be exposed as she changes her story again and again to cover up. It's what liars do and I am confident that your Head will behave true to type.
    I hope you have some good friends who can help you with this. In your current state of illness, you will find it very difficult to do anything at all, as you are discovering. Unfortunately this makes the Head's position, in the short term, a strong one: you are already beaten to a metaphorical pulp and unable to defend yourself adequately.
    It took me over a year to write my statement for the lawyer, in the first place, because my memoory and concentration were so shot=to-pieces. If you have a good, able firnd who can organise evidence for you or - as one lovely Head-friend did for me - just sit at the computer and type while you talk, even in half-sentences, it makes it possible.
    Hope maybe this offers some suggestions of ways forward for you. Always happy to help with more specific information, if you would like it - as, of course, do many others on this wonderful forum.
     
  6. Thanks for that invaluable information. As each day goes by I want more and more to fight. The SAR thing is a good idea. How would you word the SAR to the Authority, however, in order to make sure that I get copies of all emails that I'm either the subject of or merely mentioned in?
     
  7. So many things have happened to me over the past few years and I have found this forum so helpful in improving my mood. Just knowing that I'm not the only one that this kind of thing happens to (though it's so incredibly wrong) is a source of strngth and makes me want to fight. To an extent I wonder why we are all doing it here and NOT actually 'taking the fight to them'. The frustrating thing is that I can't relate everything that has happened to me without becoming easily identifiable to the people who I know would see it as a god-given opportunity to make life even harder! This is the culmination of what I consider to be a coordinated but quite cleverly low key campaign to 'get rid' of me. I pretty much know that if I listed them all here they would work out who I am because some of the things they have done are breathtakingly preposterous. There are tens if not hundreds of small instances of undermining me or making me feel insecure and undervalued in my job but over the years there have even been some HUGE instances that I was too cowardly and frightened to take them to task on. In a way I blame myself for being too much of a 'wuss' and putting up with it in the hope that it would stop one day.
     
  8. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Think carefully before you decide to fight. I have been down that route and it is incredibly hard and took a long time. How much written evidence do you have to prove what has happened? To help you decide I would take all your information to an employment solicitor and see if you have a case. Unfortunately if they want to get rid of you even if you decide that you want to fight, it is likely you will still end up leaving. Think about what you can cope with emotionally and if things go wrong if you can manage without your job and your chances of getting a new one.
     
  9. FollyFairy

    FollyFairy Occasional commenter

    Your posts have made me so angry - the way you have been treated is damn-right horrible!
    Two years ago I was dismissed from my job - I thought it was the end of my career. However, 4 months later, I got another teaching job and am now working in a very supportive school, and this is with me having to inform the prospective employer that I was sacked. With a CA, you would not have to tell anyone that it was a CA - that is the beauty of it, plus you have to AGREE with what is written in the reference!
    This is very worrying - have you informed your doctor? It sounds very much like depression if you cannot leave the house.
    I only guess at the answer to this - your union may have given you the worst case scenario based on their knowledge and experience of similar cases. Warning you that it may not have a happy ending is actually better than giving you false hope. It sounds as if your HT, for whatever reason, wants you out - if this is so, it is unlikely she will be swayed to do otherwise; in fact, she will probably, if she has not done so already, say anything to the LEA to support her claim.
    You can certainly ask for the meeting to be minuted - it should be anyway, and demand a copy of the minutes is sent to yourself and your union rep. Once you and your rep have received them, go through them line by line, correcting as necessary, then sign, photocopy and send back.
    Good luck, xxx
     
  10. Will asking for a Subject Access Request from both the Authority and the school not just make them even more determined to make my life hell?
     
  11. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I'd only do that if you have decided to fight and have the evidence to win at a tribunal.
     
  12. You know whAT? I THINK THAT I AM GOING TO FIGHT BECAUSE WHEN I READ THROUGH ALL OF THESE FORUMS ALL I SEE IS THAT THERE SEEM TO BE TEACHERS WHO JUST DO ROLL OVER AND ALLOW THEMSELVES TO BE SH*T ON! Unions seem to have become toothless tigers and all I seem to read on here is that everyone should just shut up and accept the 'fantastic' compromise agreement. I know what's going to happen... Im going to be the one who sticks his head above the parapet and everyone else is going to say "serves you right" ... well I'm going to do it anyway ... anyone got the balls to join me??? By the way I pay £17.00 a month to listen to someone (union official) who seems to be on the side of the employers! What's happening!!!! I worked hard for 30 years to be told NOW that I'm not so good! PLEASE GET SOME BALLS PEOPLE!!!!!
     
  13. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Let's be honest here... it's not going to make the slightest bit of difference.. except that they might get a bit of a shock if they realise you might just be up for a fight.

    There are a few home truths you need before you decide what path to take:

    Your union want you to take the compromise agreement... because it just makes their lives so very much easier and because they know that within the internal process you will not win.

    They will dismiss you... even if they have no real grounds to do so... even if there are 100 other teachers in your own school who's work record is worse than yours. For whatever reason your face no longer fits and that will be that.

    The stress of the internal process will be huge... because the HR department will not play fair and you will, once again, be horrified by the lack of honesty and professionalism that some people are prepared to stoop to.

    But... if you're angry and want to be able to look yourself in the eye... and if you have the support of friends and family... go for it... just don't expect to win until you get to an external employment tribunal... and for that you'll be needing a real solicitor... look for the local firm that deal with legal aid cases... because when the wages stop coming in they'll still be interested in your case and it's a bit of a boost because they are not allowed to take a case on under legal aid unless they firmly believe it has a more than 50% chance of winning it.

    My advice would be to keep everything. Get a few display folders and start collating all the emails and letters you have been sent... keep everything in date order. If someone says something to you write an email back to them asking them to confirm the content of the conversation... to ensure you understood correctly... if they're using a school email account... forward them all home... if that's a problem then print everything. Don't wait until you get sent home or have to leave... get it all now.
     
  14. Good post and makes perfect sense to me.
    In honesty, teaching is one of the most stressful jobs you can do. Its not a case of 'getting some balls' maybe its a reality that the above is perfectly accurate and that most of all, you will put yourself under so much extra unecessary stress from the process of sorting it professionally, that you would be daft to go through with it.
    think logically about the process and maybe realise that poster's aren't asking you to take anything, but more than likely, are trying to get you to consider your health, which I personally think is the most important issue ...
     
  15. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    Have you been to an employment solicitor to see if you have a case before you do anything?
     
  16. snowstorm

    snowstorm New commenter

    Zadok1 is right; it's difficult to win at tribunal; even that system seems to favour employers; the panel asks probing questions of the respondent (employer) and you feel they are on your side; then low and behold, you lose, because they have to follow case law and can't substitute their own feelings even if they don't favour the employer. I know; I've been there!
     
  17. Zadok1

    Zadok1 New commenter

    Snowstorm... I found that happening at the disciplinary level... but I agree that you have to make sure you have the law on your side. My union (not a teaching one) were very supportive but don't know employment law as well as an employment solicitor... so I agree that the OP should take the case to an employment lawyer to ensure the law is on their side first.

    You can also read up on the law yourself... it took me a while to get into it (after I'd stopped giggling at the 'legal speak' ) but it's not that hard to get your head round if you can get hold of the right books. My union lent me some of their books and I found I was quoting bits of employment law before my solicitor could get started (not sure if he liked that or found it irritating) but it meant we were on the same page and he didn't feel he needed to explain everything to me.
     
  18. The agoraphobic feelings were a complete surprise to me when I became depressed/anxious/stressed. Even now, some time down the road, I am reluctant to go out into the 'unknown', so to speak. I manage the weekly shop but only in the one supermarket I'm confortable with but other generalised shopping is a bit of a no-no to me at the moment. I've lost count of the plans I've cancelled.
    Gardening Leaves, I found your post really enlightening, thank you.
    There have been many links and threads about bullies and their behaviour on this forum (and others) over the years. One of the things mentioned in some of those threads/links is that bullies often trip themselves up in the course of trying to hide their wrongdoings. I'm pleased to report that this has happened in my case and therefore I am feeling more hopeful than before.
    It's really, really hard to find any fighting spirit when you've been beaten down to the point where self-belief has been either diminished or decimated BUT I do believe that it is worth fighting for honesty and justice to be revealed. My own personal thoughts revolve now around "how dare *they* do this to me!" and "I'm not going down without a fight". My departed father used to say "don't let the bu**ers grind you down" - and I'm not going to.
    Isn't it great that there are forums such as this were we can get strength and support from people who understand.
     
  19. Torey

    Torey Occasional commenter

    I've been through the fight, but I do think that when it gets to the point where you are losing yourself than perhaps there is a better decision to make.
     
  20. Yes, I agree. I will not compromise my health, well-being, happiness, or family (not necessarily in that order!) for it but I'm darned if I'm going to continue to be thought of as a weak-willed pushover. It's as much to do with my self-esteem as anything. I will, whatever I do, try to maintain a sense of perspective about it all.
    What's so sad, of course, is that none of us wanted a fight in the first place but were forced into one by people who can't see what they're doing is wrong.

     

Share This Page