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What a mess ? Any ideas

Discussion in 'Governors' started by Curvy1, May 29, 2011.

  1. I'm a new headteacher, been in post since September. I've had a very challenging year, the previous head had let the school run down. All the teachers think they are the best in the world but are satisfactory at best. I steered the school through a recent Ofsted and I was very pleased to get satisfactory. I was mentioned in the report in a very positive light.
    When I was interviewed, the governors painted a very rosy picture of the school. Infact, I've had to make 2 people redundant because of previous poor financial planning. My deputy also went for the job. Lots of tension in the school over the past 9 months. I've tried hard but most teachers are very loyal to the deputy. Not sure if this will change. It's a very established staff no movement in 10 years. I'm younger than them all and this also causes resentment.
    The C of G has interferred by meeting secretly with staff to discuss me. All the other govs are furious. Quite frankly I've had enough ! I know another headship would probably be hard to get. I'm going to apply for deputy headships. Really don't enjoy going to work.
    How do I explain this, with out putting off a potential employer ? Do I need to explain my reason for leaving so soon in my application (the rest of my career has been excellent) ?
     
  2. I'm a new headteacher, been in post since September. I've had a very challenging year, the previous head had let the school run down. All the teachers think they are the best in the world but are satisfactory at best. I steered the school through a recent Ofsted and I was very pleased to get satisfactory. I was mentioned in the report in a very positive light.
    When I was interviewed, the governors painted a very rosy picture of the school. Infact, I've had to make 2 people redundant because of previous poor financial planning. My deputy also went for the job. Lots of tension in the school over the past 9 months. I've tried hard but most teachers are very loyal to the deputy. Not sure if this will change. It's a very established staff no movement in 10 years. I'm younger than them all and this also causes resentment.
    The C of G has interferred by meeting secretly with staff to discuss me. All the other govs are furious. Quite frankly I've had enough ! I know another headship would probably be hard to get. I'm going to apply for deputy headships. Really don't enjoy going to work.
    How do I explain this, with out putting off a potential employer ? Do I need to explain my reason for leaving so soon in my application (the rest of my career has been excellent) ?
     
  3. "The C of G has interferred by meeting secretly with staff to discuss me. All the other govs are furious. "
    Furious with him or you?
    Do you know, as in 100% certain, there was a meeting. It seems like a bizarre thing to do and would leave the Chair very vulnerable. How about an agenda item for next full governors "Feedback from meeting of school staff with Chair"!

     
  4. The C of G had a meeting with the teachers and said it was to discuss issues in the school. Infact I was discussed at the meeting as well (one of the teachers told me). He was adamant he didn't mention my name. He did feedback to me after the meeting. Now the staff think they can go to him and avoid me, if they are unhappy with anything.
    Being universally liked is not that important to me, but the atmosphere is terrible in the school and some teachers are refusing to speak to me on some occasions. One parent helper also reported that the teachers arew constantly running me down, in front of parents. When we have staff meetings they just act as a pack and back each other up.
    I feel I need to leave because I can't trust ther chair or teachers, they said I shouted at a child and I'm intimidating. I haven't raised my voice in the school and always 'appear' calm.
    If you were a governor of another school and I applied for a deputy headship, what would you want to know about the situation I'm currently in ?
    Should I explain this in my application briefly or wait for interview ?
    Would you feel comfortable giving me the post ?
    My career has been on a high until now.
    Thank you for your comments.

     
  5. I actually don't see why you have to give up your Headship, simply because a few people are finding that their comfort zone is less comfortable. Having been a head for nearly a year, you will find the deputy role hard to go back to. You have moved on from that. Stick in there and ride the storm. Your staff are behaving like toddlers - testing you to see how far they can go. Show them and then they will learn to respect you, or move on.
    Your CofG may have felt he was acting in the best interests of the staff by agreeing to meet to allow them to air their issues. However, if the meeting turned into a 'whinge fest' against the new head, then he has clearly mis-judged the situation at your school in believing that this meeting would clear the air. No point in airing problems, without also considering solutions! However, it does say a lot for the CofG's relationship with the staff, that they feel they can share their concerns with him.
    So now the staff feel that they can by pass the official grievance procedure and complain directly to the Governors! (Poor unpaid, voluntary service governors! How can they be expected to deal with these issues?) I take it that no member of staff has actually instigated an official complaint against you?
    This is just my opinion for what it is worth, but I feel that this is about fear of change. I have heard of other cases where staff have raised concerns about feeling intimidated. Can they cite any actual incidents where people have been mistreated? Can your Cof G share any real staff grievances with you that can be addressed?
    YOU are the head and YOU are responsible for the day to day running of the school. YOU were appointed as headteacher because the governing body felt that YOU were the most suitable person for the job. As you say, the oh so popular deputy applied for the job and did not get it. If the Governors had wanted to appoint the deputy, they could have done so. They chose you instead.
    It is time to contact your union and your LA. Your LA Governance Dept will be able to support and advise your GB in how to deal with and diffuse staff issues. I am willing to bet that it is a small core of staff who resent you, an unfamilair entity being appointed to their school, instead of a familiar and popular deputy, who would have, or so they believe, maintained the status quo.
    I am sure that you applied for your first headteacher post because you believed you had the skills and the experience and the ability to do the job. The Governing Body who appointed you, obviously believed you were the best applicant. Don't let these 'malcontents' drive you out of your job. This is not directed at you as a person. It is a power struggle and anyone else in your position would be treated in the same way.
    I know it is difficult, but step back from your personal feelings about this and be objective. Address each issue according to LA guidelines, involving LA advisors where necessary and most importantly, keep written records about everything!
    Good luck and stick in there!
     
  6. Thank you for your comments.
    A few weeks ago, the staff wrote an anoymous letter to the chair, they also phone her to complain about me. No one teacher has made an official complaint. She (C of G) is pretty good friends with one of the teachers and this concerns me as that particularly teacher is quite disruptive.
    The anoymous letter said I was unapproachable and intimidating. I have never been described in this way before. I'm concerned because they are ganging up that they could say I'm bullying them. This has made me step back from visiting classes as I know they don't like it. I'm spending more time in my office, which is not what I want.
    I've involved the LA hope I'll get more support from them. Feeling very stressed at the moment, not looking forward to going back.

     
  7. So they have sent an anonymous letter to the C of G making a very general accusation. Cowards! Can they cite examples of occasions when you have been 'unapproachable' or 'intimidating'? Where is their evidence? These staff are bullying you and they are using your own Governing Body to do it!
    It is not appropriate for the Chair of Governors to have a friendship with one of your staff that facilitates that member of staff in undermining you as head. Clearly, Cof G has a conflict of interests here and needs to stand down. I think you need to contact your union to make them aware of this situation. You need support. Your union will intervene with your LEA and encourage them to support your Governing Body in sorting out this situation.
    I really hate to say this, as it goes against my philosophy of working with staff and supporting and enabling as much as possible, but if this 'disruptive' teacher is making accusations against you that are unfounded and are undermining your position as headteacher, particularly if this is being shared with parents, you need to consider disciplinary action. This would be on the basis of unprofessional conduct.
    Go in tomorrow with your head held high. Visit every class and greet staff with a confident smile. I do not believe that they all have it in for you. Most will be too busy and too professional and frankly, will just not want to get involved in staffroom politics. I am willing to bet they have been dragged unwillingly into the whole gossip and innuendo scenario against you.
    Good Luck!
     
  8. Thanks for your comments.
    If I leave should I put something about my situation down on the application form ? If I do how could I explain it professionally ?
     
  9. Hi Curvy, I don't mean to sound hard here, but I think the previous respondents have made it quite clear without actually saying that you should not even consider leaving. As a CoG, I would look at an application for deputy head or head to see if the candidate had the skills and abilities to implement tough decisions. If the application itself did not identify that, then interview and references would be likely to do so.
    Unfortunately, your present situation as described here does nothing to enforce those qualities of strong leadership. Even by putting the best spin on the situation, the fact remains that you have allowed a situation to develop where staff can tittle-tattle to governors rather than use the procedures that are in place.
    Your only real course of action is to address the issues in school. You mentioned that staff are satisfactory at best. Implement a series of learning walks and observations. Ensure that you give staff fair but accurate feedback on their performance. Spend as much time as possible in lessons. Discuss with your deputy what you expect of her in terms of loyalty and role, making it clear that if she is unable to support you then maybe she would be happier moving on (perhaps not quite those words). Make it clear to the GB that managing the school from day to day is your role, not theirs. They selected and employed you to do this and you are entitled to their support in carrying out the job.
    Once you have acheived those goals, and raised the school's status to good, you can then move on to another headship with fantastic positives, though by then you will probably not want to. I hope this does not sound simplistic or unfeeling, but you did ask.
     
  10. Hi curvy, i feel for you I am in exactly the same position as you,wont go into too much detail here but the gov body should support you and they are not. A Ht's job is lonely and stressful and you need to talk to your cluster heads and get some support from them. I am thinking of leaving to another Ht job not a deputy but will only go when I am ready. can you isolate the trouble maker? It sounds as if they have been trying to run the show before you arrived and resent you. I hate atmospheres but remember you are the Head and you were chosen ( I know how hard it is when you think everyone is against you)
    Leave copies of the job pages on the coffee table, I bet you don't go in the staff room do you?
    I am trying to develop a tougher skin but from now one I will not ask but tell them what to do!
    Just remember, teachers can get another job it is the children that matter.
     
  11. To be honest Zeberdie, your advice is rather simplistic, but thanks for your comments. Any head would struggle at this school.
    Lets make it clear, this is not a situation I have allowed to develop through weak leadership. The previous head allowed the staff to run the school and then eventually retired early due to stress. The C of G is weak and is too close to the staff.
    I have led the school very well and the staff rebel when they can't get their own way. They have tantrums and wirte anoymously to anyone they can.
     
  12. I've decided to resign. The future looks bleak. No job to go on to.
     
  13. Really sorry to hear how bad things are for you. You've evidently worked really hard in the past 10 months to try to improve things and from what you say it appears that you think you've got nowhere.
    You asked for opinion on how to present yourself (presumably on a CV/application form) to future jobs so I'll reply as someone who has been on selection panels for staff both in school with my governor hat on and in the world outside education.
    To be brutally honest my first thought would be that you "only" stuck at the job for a year and I might not be willing to offer you an interview if I've a stack of other applications to go through (I'm not saying this to try cause offence but if I didn't know your background and the situation that might be what I'd think). I'd want to see a really good reason why you were moving. I'd also wonder why on earth you'd want to apply for what is effectively a demotion. So in my heart of hearts, my best advice is to suggest you try sticking at it for another year and use your peer group (other heads) to give you practical tips to deal with the staff body. I don't think it will be an easy year but I reckon you will break the back of the problems you've had by persisting.
    Your COG sounds like a pain in the proverbial! Perhaps you've tried already, but a 1:1 to try to improve that working relationship - eg establish ground rules about who does what might be a way forward. Are they an experienced COG? Do they understand the boundaries? You really are the one in charge even though you may not feel it! Them holding that meeting severely undermined you and I was horrified to read that. That's a boundary they really shouldn't have crossed without discussion with you first what the point of it was. They DO need taking in hand although it would be preferable to come out with a neutral rather than antagonistic working relationship.
    Surrounding yourself with a leadership team that includes the wayward deputy (cos really you've not got much choice there) but also teachers that you DO have some respect for and that can dilute the effect the duputy has may help build your defences somewhat.
    However...... having said all that, you sound as though your mind is made up to go. I would advise applying for other headships, not deputy, even if in smaller schools than your current one. You have the qualifications, you have a year's experience, why go back? Whatever you do don't moan about your current school on the application or interview. Demonstrate what you've learnt about yourself/about managing a team in the situations you've found yourself. Give your reason for moving on the application form to be something positive and truthful - eg you'd be interested to work in this new school because of the strong music/art/maths specialism which fits with your skills. Ultimately, it sounds like your current school has turned out to be biting off more than you can chew, but you will now be a stronger leader for it and if you can get to interview you will be able to demonstrate techniques you've developed without looking weak. Your past very positive history will count for something but as an interviewer I'd be looking at what you've got from the most recent experience first of all.
    I send very best wishes, stay strong.
     
  14. I think this would be a mistake. As a first stage I think your CogG needs to talk (face to face or on-line) to another Chair who actually knows what they are doing. You plus CoG against troublesome staff is an easy win for you - trust me.
     
  15. johnblack

    johnblack New commenter

    There is no worse feeling than dreading entering a workplace! I can understand anyone who feels that way wanting to resign. Especially when you have no support at the school.
    That being said I think there is some really good advice on here and if you take it and work hard you could push through this resentment. Tell the CoG you need their support in improving teaching and learning.
    Also look at Kotter's 8 stages of change and plan you're attack. The schol your in is going through radical change (redundancies, changing head improving T&L). Extreme resistance is to be expected and as the leader of change you'll have to bear/bare(I never know) the brunt of it. If you can manage it don't resign, even if you plan to step back to deputy I think you should stick it out till you have another job.
     
  16. Thank you for your comments, they were very helpful. I appreciate your honesty. The difficulty I have if I stay on is that the staff don't want to see any change. It's a school which is known throughout the area as a school that is failing. A favourite for a category. We've just had Ofsted and got sat. I have some experience of working in a school in a category. After 3 years, it was judged good. I know what is involved.
    This set of staff, are not there for the children just for themselves. I can tell that. They are like a gang. They stick together. This coupled with a very weak C of G who plays both sides doesn't fill me with any confidence. C of G just wants the status of being chair.
    Just been put under a lot of pressure

     
  17. Not sure how helpful this is but the CoG's role should be to " Work effectively with the headteacher, establishing a
    constructive relationship" and "Not to get involved in operational issues"
    Just wondering what governor support you have locally that might be called in to "help" the govs carry out their role better!
     

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