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Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by Richmondson, May 31, 2019.
What is the best approach to capability? What do I need to know? Any advice welcome!
Where to start? It's a massive topic. Lots of posts on here about it.
However, my one piece of advice which most others on here would echo is:
Get in touch with your union.
It depends why you're subject to it.
If you need to improve practice, ask for and make the most of all support offered.
If you think there's an ulterior motive, it's likely that you will need to think long term about your options as a teacher in the future.
Depends, is it formal or informal?
If it's informal then show willing, make a list of all the feedback you've been given and do it. Show someone the list with evidence and volunteer for a few things. Try to make friends with some upper management - never hurts to have someone fighting your corner in a meeting you're not at. Keep your union informed.
If it's formal then you need to go to your union with all the paperwork/feedback/reasons you've been given and get advice specific to your situation. Keep them involved every step of the way and if things go south they can try to arrange an SA to make things easy on the school.
Depends. What specifically are they asking you to improve?
If you’re going onto formal, they probably just want you gone, so start applying for new jobs. If they know you’re definitely going, they might back off a bit.
One word - union.
Above school level if possible - your regional rep will be well tooled to help you here.
Start scanning the situations vacant ads.
I wouldn't bet on it...
I'd hope so, and they should be better off than a school rep...
Informal? Play the game. Jump through hoops. Ignore your principles. Get the improvements acknowledged and then get the hell out.
Formal? Union. Negotiations. Get out.
As others have said, there many reasons for being 'put on capability', which roughly fall into three categories:
1. The school thinks you have some weaknesses, and it genuinely wants to help you improve (the least likely possibility).
2. Monitoring staff performance, and administering capability procedures, is on some member of the SMT's performance management criteria, for which a 'subject' is needed, which happens to be you.
3. The school wants rid of you.
It is a good idea to ask around discreetly to see if anyone else is, or was, in the same boat, and what were the outcomes. Contact you union, of course. If the school has 'form' for doing this sort of thing, the union is likely to know.
In the long run, whatever the reasons for being put on capability, your best option is to find get on, on the best conditions the union can win for you. It will save you a lot of stress, anxiety, and mental torment. If the school does not 'get you' this time, it will 'get you' later.
It is a nasty situation that you are in.
My advice - try to stay positive, take advice from Union and do your best to get out of there.
If you think you can improve and "play the game" then good luck, however this whole capability racket stinks and is corrupt at best, driven by budget cuts etc.
Unfortunately they "hold all the cards" and are not really supportive, because they are protecting their well paid positions in Ivory Towers.
Life can really improve when you leave such a negative work environment.
Good luck and remember that no School / Academy is worth sacrificing your health for, or quality time with friends and family.
Run like hell. Capability is abuse. It's entirely in the gift of management, they can make up whatever nonsense they like with impunity (try proving to an employment tribunal that your 'pace' in lessons is good), and it will end your career if they are feeling malicious.
There is no such thing as 'informal' capability, that is a lie to try to make it look semi reasonable. All capability is to gather 'evidence' against you.
The reasons are:
1) they want you gone (too expensive, not compliant enough, didn't laugh at the DHTs joke, whatever).
2) they wish to threaten staff to accept whatever they are told to do.
3) they wish to impress OFSTED with their rooting out of 'poor practice'.
4) they actually want to get rid of someone else, and you are the bait and switch so it looks 'fair'.
There is a theoretical possibility that they think they have seen a problem and wish to support, and will give support that is actually supportive. Discovery of flying unicorns or decent Tory ministers are more probable.
2,3,and 4 don't necessarily mean that you will be disposed of. However the process will be torture. Lots of pressure. Lots of random unmeasurable targets. Lots of vague threats and hints and extensions. You will get through it if you kowtow enough to the right people. N.B. there is nothing more fragile than the ego of a member of SLT, and they will respond badly to anything but servile gratitude.
When it happened to me, I walked. If you are able to do so, then I can't recommend it enough. If you can't then nod and grin and agree with everything and be ever so grateful for the chance to improve whilst applying for anything and everything even vaguely plausible. If it starts to make you ill (which it almost certainly will) then get signed off for as long as possible to avoid the process damaging you more. This can then lead to a settlement agreement. Get a reference as part of it.
Don't trust management. Ever. If they say the grass is green, check. Don't speak to any of your colleagues. Don't tell management anything. Record everything they say to you (In the maths corridor at 12.34pm you said...Can you confirm you meant...). Copy all emails to your home account. Have a witness or record all meetings. Nod, smile, say nothing.
Most of all, remember that this isn't your fault. It's a game that is completely rigged against you. Fair and reasonable don't enter into it. This happens to lots of people for no reason at all, it's just how it is in teaching right now. Your only concern should be your wellbeing. The kids may well lose out. That's managements fault for abusing you.
Best of luck.
Many of us will agree with post #13....
Keep excellent minutes / notes also I would go as far as to record meetings secretly using your phone. SLT have a habit of getting a power trip and as a result tell lies and make threats. Then either deny what they have said. It’s nice to have leverage. They play dirty you play dirty and also get the Union in.
I’m a member of SMT (depute head/business manager) at a free school, and I think contrary to popular belief capability can actually be a really productive and effective process in bringing about improvement- both individually and as a school.
No member of teaching staff is perfect, and capability provides the opportunity for them to be supported in naming improvements to their practice in a rapid and permanent way. The aim of the process should be to improve an individual’s teaching, not to fire them.
Of course, this isn’t always possible in some cases, and it’s vital that the process is handled sensitively and supportively in these circumstances.
Teaching staff being transitioned should be helped to take the step into another career. This can often be within the school itself- we’ve been able to move some teachers on capability into alternative roles. These have included pastoral care, TAs, library support and even catering.
What I would also add is that capability doesn’t just come about as a result of a personal vendetta by an individual member of SMT. In our school it has to be signed off by 3 senior managers, and will follow a long process of engagement with the overall output of the teaching staff in question, from learning walks, data and observations.
Ah the management spiel. I've heard that a lot. It's always been lies. Maybe your school is like that. However, to someone as powerless as a teacher, it's not worth taking the risk given the overwhelming probability that the process is as abusive as described above.
I'm not sure that most managers recognise how foul capability is. After all, it's not happening to them. Then again I've met managers who positively revel in the abuse of their power.
I’d say that the senior leadership in your school is inadequate if it’s using “support” to transition teachers into becoming lunchtime supervisors.
Yeah yeah. I remember the days when all this happened as a matter of course. Genuine support, that is. Help, guidance, improvement. Not capability. Capability is different and very often, it is abuse. You don’t need capability to help people to improve or to support them.