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Why i was effectively driven out of my role...

Discussion in 'Heads of department' started by rehaank, Aug 27, 2018.

  1. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Read on if you're bored.

    SO, this year, a new head teacher graced us with his presence and smug outlook. Charming chap. I've been teaching at my "secondary school with a sixth form attached to it" for over 12 years and have been the HOD for 10 years now (for science). Around 5 years ago I also joined the SLT and focused on development of teaching and learning with a strong focus on progress.

    I think, on the whole, i've been successful. I created better dialogue among the school and developed the attainment of not only science but Maths and English, bringing greater focus of numeracy and literacy into lower school, improving teaching practises and setting a dialogue across many departments.

    So, the new head teacher seemed to have a serious problem with me being both HOD and being the SLT for T&L. His main concern was that "too many teachers had too many titles and did too little". Which is fair enough, i guess, but i certainly didn't do "little". But with me he seemed to have a serious personal problem, that's what seemed to radiate from him (not pulling the homophobia card). But he had a problem with my teaching style at A Level saying it was not age appropriate. This is was from a lesson on Muscle Contraction for A Level Biology where students had to use play doh to create a stop-motion style animation to model the Sliding Filament Theory. I thought this was a great, and lesson i've done many times before. Further, the students were willing to do this and enjoyed this!!

    But, alas, he didn't like this and other ideas i had - I apparently spend "too long consolidating and not enough time standing up and speaking". I'm a big believer in independence and metacognition and bring this to all lessons, significantly implementing the "retrieval effect" into teaching to help commit complex topics to memory - but apparently these would be better spent me lecturing at the front.

    So, one day my old "pal" here told me that i couldn't be both SLT and HOD (even though the head of Maths and English are also both of these). I was given an ultimatum essentially - one or the other. I understand perhaps why he didn't want a HOD for Science since we have a Head of Biology, Chemistry and Physics etc. but i believe having one overall arch brings together each department rather than having them operate in their own "chunks".

    The whole final half of the last year was stressful and i was facing this dichotomy. After speaking to a few others and the HT's PA, me becoming only SLT meant (looking at the provisional timetable), very little time teaching and more time on duty, more time running isolation etc. etc. Perhaps his goal is to try and drive all the SLTs away from teaching and more time doing paperwork and CPD training (which i again did enough of!).

    Perhaps i overeacted with everything and i just assumed the worst of this dude. But, i decided to take a year out, i guess. So i'm here. Typing away. My worry was, if the new GCSE science results totally flawed how my department would cope. But, we did well, and i think they'll do very well without me. So maybe it was better for me to step down as HOD and maybe i should just move on, somewhere else, and not return back.

    If you read all this, well done! You must be really bored! Anyway i just needed to get this off my chest.
    pepper5 likes this.
  2. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    Move on. You're a good A-level teacher, your students liked your teaching style and you'll be welcomed elsewhere.
    Good luck.
    pepper5 and rehaank like this.
  3. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    I'd love too - but i really really liked the school and the staff and was I was very very dedicated there. But i think everything has a time..
    pepper5 and phlogiston like this.
  4. sparkleghirl

    sparkleghirl Star commenter

    A change of management can change a school almost from one day to the next.

    I wouldn't want to sacrifice teaching time for a management role ever so if this had happened to me I'd be looking elsewhere.
    pepper5 and rehaank like this.
  5. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    To some extent I think it is completely normal and within the rights of a new head to look at the SLT and choose who he/she wishes to be on it, as well as the way in which middle management is set up in the school.

    I know a lot of schools have ditched year heads for 'Phase Leaders' for Ks3 and 4 instead, for example.

    Obviously you were caught in the cross fire of this one, which is unfortunate. It may have been personal by the HT, or indeed it may just have felt personal because you occupied an unusual role in the school which he focused on.

    Either way, you are an experienced teacher with evidence of management and what you did with that responsibility. I am sure that a hod position will be filled by you as soon as you want it to be!
  6. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    @rehaank I totally believe all the positive things you have written here but - to be brutal- I think that if you don't make a move he is going to start ramping up the pressure. I think you are on his hit list, so go now. ( I don't understand what you mean by taking a year out btw).
    pepper5 likes this.
  7. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    I've "unofficially left" i.e. my position is empty but no one is going to fill it while I take a year off teaching at the school. I've decided to do a little bit of tutoring but essentially the option to return back is given. It is also interesting how willing the HT was in allowing me to do this, perhaps to prove a point of how "I don't need you, **** off" and "look how well the school can do without you". I'll still be attached to the school in my year off as i'll be supporting the NQT/SCITT training (which is another independent company).

    I think i will perhaps be looking at moving on. But again it's upsetting to part away.
    pepper5 likes this.
  8. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    I've never heard of such a situation. Do you really think that he'll welcome you back. I think in his eyes he has awarded you this honour.

    I know very little about secondary so might be quite wrong of course.
    pepper5 likes this.
  9. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Lmao. Well i don't know if he will, or whether i really want to. However if a vacancy for a new HOD for science pops up or if new SLT position pops up for the school, well, then i'll know.
  10. lindenlea

    lindenlea Star commenter

    Enjoy your sabbatical. I presume you're not being paid anything.
    pepper5 likes this.
  11. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    For the NQT training and stuff yeah, but that's a different company, nothing from the school. Thankfully i'll still meet up with some of the other teachers so they can fill me in.

    Interesting to see what he does with the other two HOD for Maths and English who are both SLT also. I've spoken with them, but there seems to be no issue (heck the teaching across the school is in lieu of my style and there doesn't seem to be a problem). I don't want it to be a personal problem, but it reaaaallly seems like it.
  12. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    Perhaps the HT views your unusual HOD position as too much like an AHT? In which case, his demand that you choose either SLT or HOD would sort of make sense.
  13. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    But i am an AHT! I'm both HOD and AHT. So are the Heads of Maths and English. I've been HOD for 10 years and AHT for about 5 years. If he's strongly against HOD = AHT, then why not clamp down on my other colleagues? His comment "too many teachers have too many titles and do too little" seem to be his motivation?

    Further, his original argument was for me to step down as HOD as i didn't specialise in all three aspects of science - my PhD is in Biophysics, so i was missing the chemistry specialism (but again it's only A Level Chemistry nothing challenging). But then he decided to drop that (after i made it clear that hardly anyone exists who specialises in all three aspects of science) and started to attack my teaching as time went on.
    pepper5 likes this.
  14. Flanks

    Flanks Senior commenter

    Yes, but the oddity in your case, as I understand it, is that each science also has a hod. So being AHT that the science hods report to makes sense, but you also being a hod does seem un-necessarily complicated in terms of management structure. I imagine a few people would be puzzled by this!
  15. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Fair enough, i guess.

    The structure, as i see it, seems tight-knit and simple:
    1. SLT Liason (i.e. the AHT that HOD reports to)
    2. HOD
    3. Second in Dep
    4. Key Stage Leaders.

    Science is an exception with no second in dep.

    So each HOD reports to their SLT Liason so yeah i guess i effectively "report to myself", but then this parallels Maths and English. For Science, there's a Head of Bio, Chem, Phys, then Me and then effectively the "SLT Liason" who is again me.

    I guess it does seem a bit OTT and maybe the new HT is cracking down on this. However it never really bothered anyone as i don't think anyone really cared - each staff knew who to report too:
    staff --> Key Stage Leader --> Head of Bio/Chem/Phys --> Me

    rather than staff --> Key Stage Leader --> Head of Bio/Chem/Phys --> Second HOD --> HOD --> SLT.

    If anything, i think it cut the "middle man" out?
  16. Robfreeman

    Robfreeman Occasional commenter

    Two bores

    What if he has realised your not happy and is offering you the time away to think about where you want to go? He may realise that you have a lot of skills he will find hard to replace. Over the year he can make some changes and restructuring and could be hoping that you may take the time away, talk to colleagues about it and the changes and potentially say I'd been at the school along time things changed quickly I lost my mojo for a bit I want to come back


    He realised he screwed up. Pushed away someone with a massive skill set and rather than you leave and never return offered this year out to stop you resigning hoping you will forget he has been a bit of a Muppet and you come back.

    I can't understand him not wanting you to be hod and aht it does present issues the line manager and hod are meant to act as a series of checks and balances if they are the same person that doesn't always work. To a new head that might concern them, I agree though they should do the same with the other Dept's.

    However his reasons about subject specialism is **** I'm a physicist I'm pants at chem and a bit better than pants at bio does that mean I can't be a hod. Course not it does mean I would need to listen to those with specialism's and defer to their subject specific advice at times but doesn't mean I can't oversee the subject.
    pepper5 and Flanks like this.
  17. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Really sorry you went through this and I hope you get lapped up by a school who appreciates your awesomeness. What was going on in the mind of that HT really isn't worth your beautiful brain's space, there are finer things on Netflix worthy of your attention.o_O

    He has his issues and yours now has to be getting the very best deal for yourself.

    I hope you can get over his nonsenses soon and find the perfect solution for you.:)
    rehaank likes this.
  18. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Hi, thanks for replying. I'm not too sure what you mean by "lost my mojo"; i don't think i've done anything wrong and neither have i changed anything about my way of teaching.

    Again i could see issues with communication, having HOD = Line Manager (or Liason as we call it) but this hasn't been an issue for the past 6 years.

    For the specialism - exactly my point! Heck, i may not have a degree attached to Chemistry but i've been teaching ALL THREE SCIENCES to A LEVEL for the past 10 years!! I certainly know my fair share of Chemistry.

    Alas, i think he's not worth this dispute.
  19. rehaank

    rehaank Occasional commenter

    Aw what a lovely post, thank you.

    And yes, Netflix will play a big part in my well deserved time off, considering the sheer amount of time, pain and effort i put into this school. x
  20. Robfreeman

    Robfreeman Occasional commenter

    You thought of trying supply and showing your skills to others and just having fun. You have this massive skill set to show off there are schools which can really use you.
    pepper5 likes this.

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