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SLT making notice period as difficult as possible

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by midnight_angel, Nov 15, 2015.

  1. midnight_angel

    midnight_angel Senior commenter

    Without going into too much detail, there is a very large turnover of staff in my (core and very large) department over the past couple of years, mostly due to one particular member of SLT, who happens to line manage our department, and even once told our (now ex) HoF "to come down hard on staff for the smallest of things".
    I am a post - holder within the department, and am generally a well liked one, whom people have come to with regards to issues in the past. However, after trying to mediate these 'issues' in a calm and professional manner in department meetings (so there are others around, and there is no disputing what has been said), I have been shouted at, called unprofessional, and even been told to 'not worry about that which doesn't concern me' - I am still there to support and listen to people, but have stop bringing the matters up in meetings.
    Anyway, before half term, I applied for (and went through all the right channels to informing HT beforehand etc) a promoted post in a different school; I will be the subject leader. I was certain that I had messed up the interview, but to both my delight and shock, I was offered the post, and start in January.
    I handed my notice in on 22nd October, and when we returned from half term, I received confirmation from HR regarding my resignation.
    Now, this member of SLT is not happy (there is another member of the department leaving in December as well, and we are a shortage subject for our area), and has not spoken to me (to the point where I was blanked when I smiled and said hello to her in the corridor one day, she looked straight at me and walked past).
    The only communication we have had is an email I received on Friday, telling me to meet her in her office on Monday morning to discuss "some recent issues regarding my work." (I don't know what these issues might be, except that earlier in the week, I was two days late for handing in my Y7 books, for a book look - something which I emailed and apologised to the KS3 Co-ordinator about - who happens to be SlT's "BFF").
    My intention to to print and take a copy of the email correspondence, regarding the book look, if that is the issue, to politely give to the SLT. Other than that I intend on saying nothing (I also have a small wristband dictaphone on which I intend to record the conversation, just in case I am referred to being "unprofessional" again). My union have also assured me that it sounds like an 'informal chat' and so not to be worried about it (but they don't know the context of the school, and others who have gone into meetings for 'informal formal chats').
    Personally, I'm trying not to worry. Contract has been signed at new school, references have been completed (and the job offer is still intact, so I assume they were fine), the only thing I am still awaiting, which regards to the new job offer, is my DBS check, which I know will come back fine. I do believe that this woman is just trying to make things difficult for me, now that I am working my notice period, but other than the fact that this saddens me, as for the most part I have enjoyed my time at this school, and would like to end the next five weeks on a really positive note with my colleagues and students, I am concerned about the threats she may pose (she once threatened a colleague's pay progression, if she didn't complete a particular task that wasn't part of the colleague's job description); this is the may reason why I intend to record the conversation.
    Just please ease my mind/concerns TESsers. Short of there being a safeguarding concern, am I right in believing she cannot threaten capability/make any threats about contacting the new school? (If she did, it would be straight on to the union, and yes - it is the most extreme case, but I'm mentally preparing for the absolute worst tomorrow).

    I'll just continue counting down the days ... :)
  2. Ladykaza

    Ladykaza Senior commenter

    Try not to worry - which I know is easy to say- as that appears to be exactly what she is trying to achieve by sending the email Friday.

    It does sound like she is an extremely unpleasant person and is just, as you suspect, trying to make your last few weeks a misery!

    Other, more wise posters, may correct me but you seem to have nothing at all to lose. Your new post is secure. I would try to swan in to the meeting with an air of serene calm. Listen to what she has to say. If it is something you feel is reasonable and with which you can comply , do so. If not, or she behaves badly, I would next go over her head and report - again calmly- the details and that you will not be attending meetings with her any more, that if SLT wish to address an issue with you in the month or so you have left, then another member of staff should do it.

    The bottom line is.... What can she do? If you just ignore her and any of her requests, what can she do?

    I really hope you find a way to leave this school with positive memories of good things and people. Don't let her spoil it.
  3. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    Of course if she is particularly horrible to you, you may develop a tension headache (I know I might...). These can last a day or two, and you'd have to go home and sign yourself off sick....
    midnight_angel likes this.
  4. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    I'm really sorry about this, @midnight_angel . Actually no, I'm not, I'm mad!

    OK, what to do.

    First of all, you need evidence in writing about everything from now on.

    Do you have a private e-mail ? If not get one. And everything you send from your official e-mail, do a BCC to that one as well. When you receive a reply from school staff, send it to that private e-mail.

    Now send an e-mail to this SLT member (BCC to your other e-mail), asking for further details of the issues concerning your work that she wishes to discuss with you, so that you can come properly prepared to answer her concerns, if any. Add I understand from advice taken that this is also a matter of Natural Justice, that I should know what you may be accusing me of.

    If she doesn't reply, then at the time of the meeting don't go, just send another e-mail saying As you have been unable to supply me with details of the exact issues that you wish to discuss with me, I feel that it is inappropriate for me to attend a meeting where Natural Justice and plain courtesy are being denied me.

    I like to put Natural Justice in capitals, to underline its importance, but you may prefer not to.

    You might also ask: May I bring a friend to take notes of the conversation, or shall I take these notes myself to have an accurate record of what is said?

    That should make her wary, for starters.

    Have your recording but also do take the notes yourself. Stop and write down what she says before answering yourself. All this will put her on the defensive, and if she has any sense, will cause her to back off.

    If you get the list (I hope not a list!) of issues, decide whether to go or not, depending on whether you have time to have your answers.

    If you do go, I think that your tactic could be Am I being singled out here?

    If the issue is the late Yr 7 books, then when she asks about it in the meeting, ask: How many other colleagues have been late for deadlines so far this year? Book looks, data, reports, anything at all? And how many of these colleagues have also been required to attend a meeting with a member of SLT to explain this late submission?

    Do the same for any other issue that she brings up.

    The aim is to make her back off in the face of a potential claim that she is harassing you by singling you out.

    Best wishes

  5. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter


    You know by now what I'm going to say to this, @FolkFan . ;) I've said it before

    If you are ill, you certainly do not go to school. But if you are not ill, then you certainly do! Don't encourage puling a sickie . . .


    Best wishes

    midnight_angel likes this.
  6. Mangleworzle

    Mangleworzle Star commenter

    You don't HAVE to agree to informal chats, there is nothing to stop you refusing such meetings. As union rep I informed one particular bully of an SMT member at my school of this which frustrated him admirably, he HAD to be reasonable to people.

    I'd be inclined to be as curt as needs be at the meeting, belittle her petty criticisms that could have been sent by email etc. Often such people have only the power they are given in a day to day situation such as this, deny her the power.

    If she's blanking you, then join in (I appreciate this may be more difficult to do if it doesn't come naturally). People such as this who use the niceties of normal interactions to be unpleasant are not as bothered by them as others are, so you're not being as nasty as it may feel.

    I was in a similar position to you at this time last year, try to enjoy the rest of your time there, I found that imminently leaving meant I viewed those I genuinely liked and those I made the effort with for the sake of cordiality into sharp contrast.
  7. Morninglover

    Morninglover Star commenter

    I am merely pointing out that the OP - who seems to be being bullied by her line manager - should not be afraid of taking time off school if this treatment makes them feel unwell.
  8. newposter

    newposter Occasional commenter

    You just can't beat working for a woman.
    Mrsmumbles likes this.
  9. TheoGriff

    TheoGriff Star commenter

    Glad that you appreciate me, @newposter .;)

    Yes, absolutely, but we all need to take care with encouraging those who aren't ill to claim to be so! That's what I was saying. :rolleyes:

    Best wishes

    notsonorthernlass likes this.
  10. asnac

    asnac Lead commenter

    If you bump into her in the corridor and she says, "Have you got a moment?" then it's an informal chat. Summoning you to a meeting with a sketchy but vaguely threatening topic is not an informal chat. You are wise to be dubious.

    Quite. You're on your way out and well done for achieving that.
  11. ilovesooty

    ilovesooty Star commenter

    I have had good male and female managers @newposter. The manager who bullied me out of teaching happened to be male but I consider his gender irrelevant.

    @midnight_angel I think that's great advice from @TheoGriff. Congratulations on your new job.
    midnight_angel likes this.
  12. midnight_angel

    midnight_angel Senior commenter

    Thank you all for your replies. I was rather disgruntled and upset on Friday (although an ex - colleague whom I had met with over half term, did try to warn me to expect something like this - a similar thing happened to her in the summer, after her notice was handed in, in May).

    A couple of colleagues, whom I spoke to on Friday when I was quite upset, assured me that I wouldn't need to go through anything alone, and they would be happy to support, where they are able. They offered some similar advise as to what you guys have. I need to focus on the positives in the school, and doing my best for my students, especially my exam classes, in the next five weeks before I leave, and not dwell on her pettiness; which it is - she's not the most pleasant of people, and just last week informed another member of the department (who last year went well beyond what was requires of her main scale classroom teacher post) to not even bother applying for my soon to be vacant TLR. I at least, will be able to escape her management in a few weeks :)

    @TheoGriff - Once again, sound and good advise from you. Thank you.

    @Ladykaza - thanks for your reassurances. That was my understanding too, that short of there being a safeguarding issue, then there is nothing she/the school can do about my new job.

    @FolkFan - To ease Theo's 'worries', I did take your sick day comment in jest (as I'm sure it was intended) but it did make me smile :D

    Thanks for the well wishes, and congratulations, on the new job to all the others that have posted. I quickly switch between being very happy and looking forward to the new challenge, and then a little nervous about the 'step-up'.
  13. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter


    Just keep your eyes focused on the light at the end of the tunnel... one day soon [in 2016] you'll be able to look back on all this and wonder why it ever bothered you.

    And yes, I know I need to listen to my own advice.

    Really, amazed these people [SLT] get away with this... who wakes up in the morning and thinks 'Today I'm going to be a c-word'?
  14. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    There are some unpleasant bullies in teaching. I've come across a couple. The last one has fortunately had their career stalled after other people higher up in the school realised what they were really like and bypassed them for further promotion.

    As other people have said - you're leaving, you are under no obligation to go to the meeting without a proper agenda and if you do have to go then take someone with you. The bottom line is that is very little they can really do if you don't give them any oxygen.

    Just make a real point of saying how nice they were to you when you give your leaving speech.
  15. midnight_angel

    midnight_angel Senior commenter

    Sadly, some people crave the feeling that they have power over others; it apparently makes them feel good about themselves.
    rachelpaula008 and lanokia like this.
  16. lanokia

    lanokia Star commenter

    Must have very hollow empty lives then.
    Dragonlady30 and midnight_angel like this.
  17. peakster

    peakster Star commenter

    There's usually a reason that school bullies and indeed bullies in general are like they are. I'm not going into any details but the last one I came across was a sad and bitter individual and I daresay abusing people gave them the little satisfaction they got out of their lives.

    The other one was just a sociopath - fortunately he's gone in the true sense of the word.
  18. drek

    drek Star commenter

    I really hope you can enjoy your last term of teaching at the school. Such a shame that people in leadership positions are given the not only the authority but the training mechanisms, by the dfe, to act in this vindictive manner!

    But there it is. I would put my head down, and be careful of what you put in writing, it can be forwarded to the next school as evidence 'to show how troublesome you have the potential to be'! When all you might be doing is asking for a fair trial!

    Congratulations on the new post. Onwards and upwards.
  19. suzuki1690

    suzuki1690 New commenter

    I would email her back saying that as you were not given sufficient hotice of the meeting ie only told on friday that you are still waiting on your union getting back to you re your request for union representation at the meeting. Copy in the head teacher. You will be delighted to attend when you have representation from them. This could go two ways, you could be proved right and the meeting could be horrendous, could you cope with that? What if you could and lies were told after the meeting you have no recourse it would be her word against yours, though you did say you would record it. If the meeting went badly you would be kicking yourself as you did know what way the wind was blowing
  20. suzuki1690

    suzuki1690 New commenter

    Sorry internet went down in the middle of sending this. You have nothing to lose by saying you want union representation but everything to gain by insisting on it. I will be delighted to attend when union representation can be arranged. Yours etc, copying in the headteacher. best of luck you are well out of it and i think your instincts are right ie she is up to something.

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