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Settlement Agreement - is there life after a poor reference?

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Julian_Edmonds, Jan 17, 2019.

  1. Julian_Edmonds

    Julian_Edmonds New commenter

    A few weeks ago I received a written warning for a breach of health and safety protocol. I found the whole process extremely stressful, and this led to a further incident for which I have been suspended, but also on sick leave for work related stress. The NEU has come up with a settlement agreement with an "agreed" reference that includes the written warning and also the outstanding "allegation" of unspecified nature and severity. The union rep has warned me that this will seriously harm my future employability, but still thinks I should sign as the alternative of proceeding with a further disciplinary process at the school would be worse.
    My question is - does anybody ever get work again after this has happened to them? If there are schools out there with vacancies they can't fill, do they really rather leave the vacancy unfilled than take someone on who comes with a "safeguarding" issue on their reference? Are there rules saying they shouldn't take me on?
  2. serenitypolly41

    serenitypolly41 Occasional commenter

    I believe that everyone in life should be given a second chance, but hey. What do I know. It depends on the nature of what happened I guess and the circumstances. What would you do differently in the future?
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  3. serenitypolly41

    serenitypolly41 Occasional commenter

    Your union will be best placed to advise you on how to navigate forward. I wish you the very best. x
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  4. ridleyrumpus

    ridleyrumpus Star commenter

    You have an agreed reference that includes an allegation? And the Union is OK with this, really?

    Have you checked your house hold insurance for employment law support, if it covers it there is no harm in asking them for advice or indeed calling an employment lawyer for a consult.

    Have you seen your GP?

    (I have sent you a Direct Message)
    jlishman2158 and agathamorse like this.
  5. Presleygirl

    Presleygirl Occasional commenter

    First thing if your using your real name I’d change your log in, as you don’t know who is reading this. The agreed reference has to be agreed between you, the work place etc. Safeguarding issue is a hard one, don’t give the specifics in here especially if using your name.

    For me you agreed to the agreed reference you will know what the place will be saying and they aren’t really suppose to deviate from it.

    As to employers it depends on how they see the reference, some place cane read between the lines.

    Work wise the hard thing is that is it is safeguarding concern, but they have to put down in the reference and applications do ask if you have had andisplinary whether this is capability or safeguarding. You can’t lie on the form as it would enable the employer to dismiss you.

    The second allegation I’m not sure why this has to be put on the agreed reference if it hasn’t been processed but then I guess it depends what it is. Union can only advise on that.

    I think you wouldn’t want to stay in a place where things seem to be toxic.
    I’d say listen to the union.

    Wrs isn’t fun at all and you need to take stock when you are feeling more like you. Do small things to support you, post here, ring edusupport they are good and helpful and they listen in a non judgemental way..

    Think at some point is this for me......... do I want this life? If you do it’s about rebuilding you as an individual / teacher. Or thinking now is time to do something else.

    Not sure if I’ve been helpful your on a journey and it’s hard, but your not alone.
  6. paulstevenjones

    paulstevenjones New commenter

    There is life after a poor reference of course but there is not a teaching career if that includes a serious safe guarding allegation. You need to go back to your rep and get them to do some more work on your behalf. Do NOT sign anything.
  7. Presleygirl

    Presleygirl Occasional commenter

    i Agree with Paulstevenjones union at regional level or above and do not sign anything unless it has been double checked and prepared by the union. If safeguarding ..... it isn’t good at all.
  8. frustum

    frustum Star commenter

    If you mean that the reference will mention there has been an allegation but not say anything else about it, then I think that will prevent you getting another job - a new school would have to assume the worst, unless they're prepared to take your word for some other explanation (which would be foolish of them). I can't believe that your union thinks it would be a good idea to agree to this. I think agreed references are permanent, so that might mean that even if you are cleared of the allegation, the reference could still go out as it stands.

    If it's to do with safeguarding, you're not going to get another job in education while it is unresolved, so there's little point in signing a settlement agreement to get out of the disciplinary proceedings. I think your best hope is to go through with things - if you're cleared, great, if it goes against you, you're probably still better off with a clear record of the findings than this "unspecified allegation".

    Back to your union - if you're talking to the school union rep, you definitely need to go higher up. I don't think you should sign this settlement agreement.

    I thought that where allegations were serious enough, schools weren't supposed to stop pursuing them just because a teacher is leaving. If they're offering to do that if you sign the settlement agreement, possibly that indicates that they don't think it really is that serious, but are hoping they can use it as a lever to get you out.
  9. IanG

    IanG Occasional commenter

    As the OP is currently going through a settletment agreement then has to be through regional level of union and their advice is best going forward....

    I assume that the union is indicating that by not accepting the agreed reference and the school not willing to budge on the 'allegation' ref that the seriousness means the school will look to dismiss at disciplinary hearing?

    With a written warning and an allegation (which you haven't said you deny) on a teaching reference I think it very unlikely you will find another teaching position. Sorry.
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  10. NQT08

    NQT08 Occasional commenter

    In this scenario, would they be able to get a job outside of teaching? (just trying to think of ways to help)
  11. Summerhols6

    Summerhols6 Occasional commenter

    Your union have ageed only damage limitation. However, were they in any position to get anything else? Did you deny or accept the allegations? If you refute the allegations and the school are dismissing you ,your only hope is to go to an Employment Tribunal. But from what you say, that is out of the question ,if the union are suggesting you accept such a poor reference. Get more union advice, even speak to someone else at the union perhaps.
    agathamorse likes this.
  12. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    And it's apparently a safeguarding allegation.
  13. Julian_Edmonds

    Julian_Edmonds New commenter

    Thank you to everyone who has posted so far. I had been hoping for some stories from people who'd had this happen to them and then somehow managed to get a new "last" employer who'd then give them a decent reference and enable them to move on. We have a national teacher shortage, and yet an ever-growing pool of teachers who can't get work because they have been mistreated by their previous employer.

    So here's a bit more info, while trying not to be too specific. The written warning relates to a failure to follow risk assessment procedures to the required standard. I am comfortable explaining this to future employers as the over zealous application of pettifogging Health and Safety rules.
    But it was also part of a longer pattern of mistreatment. In September a new SLT took office and began to place extreme pressure on my year group with extra planning and reporting requirements, daily lesson observations, and only ever getting negative feedback.

    After the written warning I took some self certified sick leave to get over the stress caused by the hearing. The following week I was told I would have a review of my sick leave i.e. questioning whether it was legitimate. I then lost my temper, shouted at a work colleague (who actually did not feel threatened and is supporting me in this), slammed a door causing it to come loose from its frame, and was heard by other staff in the building. I realised I was no longer fit to work, immediately removed myself from the workplace and went straight to the doctors surgery. I was immediately placed on sick leave with work related stress.

    The allegation is that children were witnesses to inappropriate language and behaviour, and therefore at risk of harm. When in fact the action took place early in the morning, well before children were permitted to enter the building. For this the school would be looking to dismiss me for gross misconduct.

    Participating in any investigation or hearing at the school is not an option as I am not medically fit to do so. If I go into the same room as this bunch of people I will have a breakdown and incriminate myself further.

    It seems what the union has done is worked to a formula, they must have a huge case load and can only give limited time and care to each one. The school did agree to stop pursuing the allegation and to some financial settlement (and may well end up costing more if they have to keep paying me until the disciplinary proceeding can go ahead.) So I can't see what's in it for them in refusing to budge on the reference, other than someone disliking me personally.
  14. Bedlam3

    Bedlam3 Star commenter

    None of us on here know if you did commit this safeguarding error or not but you do know. So if you did it then you have to accept that you will not get another job in education and perhaps this is as it should be to protect children. If you didn't do it then you should fight to get your name cleared.
    grumpydogwoman likes this.
  15. Rott Weiler

    Rott Weiler Star commenter Forum guide

    Because schools, all employers, have a legal duty not to provide references that are misleading or inaccurate?

    Reference requests will typically ask whether there were any disciplinary proceedings against you while you were employed. The school must answer that truthfully.
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  16. Robberto

    Robberto Occasional commenter

    Okay you sound very compos mentis and capable of giving a clear and succinct account (ie your second message.)

    From how it reads and you say this yourself, you are wanted out by the new SLT. If the children were not in school at the time you did what you did then the second allegation won't stand up. So your job is safe in the long term. (Sorry I mean teaching career as opposed to your job at this school.)

    So if it is as cut and dry as that why are the union suggesting you sign it? Your colleague is not complaining.

    Something is not right here and you know what it is...as I said you sound very logical and well thought out. What is the missing link?
  17. CWadd

    CWadd Star commenter

    So the union is telling you to sign off an agreement which will, in their words, "severely damage" your employability, as they don't want you to go through a disciplinary. Which implies they think it will lead to dismissal.

    I'm going to be blunt - this isn't a journey you're on, except to a very possible career dead end. This is an extremely serious situation which the Union seems prepared to wash their hands of, putting you at risk. You need to go back to regional and ask them why they are so prepared to let you sign this.
  18. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You didn't follow risk assessment procedures and want to explain it as overzealous adherence to H&S.
    You then reacted to a colleague in a manner which means you are facing a disciplinary which could lead to dismissal.
    And you are wondering if another head will give you a job?

    The SA will mean there is a very small chance you might get another post in teaching, probably via supply or in a school who are absolutely desperate.
    Dismissal will mean you have an even smaller chance of working in teaching again.
    The safeguarding allegation means you have almost no chance.

    I can understand the union thinking a SA is the best option for you.
    CWadd and hfromh like this.
  19. lovejoy_antiques

    lovejoy_antiques Senior commenter

    From what you've said it sounds like a load of c**p. And out of frustration to an obvious stitch up you were guilty of showing emotions of an almost human nature.
    I've lost count of the number of teachers I've seen in tears due to work pressure. Some people start crying, others slam doors. Admittedly I'm sure not one of your proudest moments but these things happen.
    They've dressed it up to sound like Jimmy savile himself would be a safer bet in charge of kids than you! Was anybody hurt? (I take it that's a no). Then in that case get this no deal reference off the table!!! Surely someone in your union has enough common sense and gumption to get this sorted and wipe the floor with the SLT who without a shred of conscience are prepared to see you out of a job/career.
    Try and get a couple of long term supply gigs under your belt and then use those placements as references.

    FYI: after ten and a half years at a school and leaving under (a bit of a cloud, another story) the only reference the swines were prepared to give me simply just confirmed my start date, end date and that there were no outstanding child protection issues. Why not at the very least get your union to organise something like that?

    All the best. Hope you get a fresh start somewhere less rubbish.
  20. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    Got to be honest as a retired rep at school level.

    I think you've done ok. No employer anywhere is obliged to give any reference whatsoever. Unless it was part of your contract that you personally were entitled to have a reference. Which I very much doubt.

    If an employer (any employer - not just schools) deigns to give a reference then it must be accurate and not misleading. That's the law. But it's easier for them to refuse to provide one. That way they won't ever be subject to a legal challenge. I can understand why employers, unless the employee was a saint, prefer to abstain. It's a litigious age.

    You can't insist upon a reference. They are perfectly within their rights to decline. So I think you should quit while you're ahead.

    But do what @lovejoy_antiques suggests. Press hard for the reference stating dates of employment and no safeguarding concerns. I honestly think you'll do no better than that. Sorry.
    mothergoose2013 and jlishman2158 like this.

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