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Work related stress and observations

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by ET98, May 7, 2018.

  1. ET98

    ET98 New commenter

    Hi everyone,
    I'm looking for some advice please.
    I have been receiving extra observations as a form of support from my HT for a while. I have found these very stressful and my mental health has been really put to the test. My biggest difficulty is waiting weeks on end not knowing when my next observation would be and that my HT would just show up. Having been to see OH they advised that I should know the week of observation. I am still really struggling with anxiety and stress and my HT now wants not to inform me at all when observations will take place. I'm not sure if I can do anything about this but feel like I am at breaking point!
  2. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    I trust you've already got your union involved so that side is okay?

    I worry about your phrase "at breaking point". If you're near there then report your symptoms to your doctor and get quality medical advice, hopefully being signed off for a few weeks to get further away from the breaking point. An additional benefit is the HT might then think about listening to OH more.

    It won't do anyone any good if you reach 'breaking point' so avoiding that is your only aim. Please see a doctor (or OH regarding this if easier)
  3. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    I think you and the HT need to sit down with OH.

    If this is meant to be a supportive package and you don't feel supported then changes need to be made.

    Generally one doesn't learn much by doing more of the same. You need courses and mentoring and to observe colleagues in your school and (maybe) elsewhere.

    Observing you (already struggling) is unlikely to yield good results. Observe you AFTER you've had a lot of training etc. The act of observing you is not proactive. It almost invites you to make mistakes and be taken to task. That's not fair at this point. It simply doesn't help. Quite the reverse.

    What else is being done FOR you? Not TO you.
  4. sbkrobson

    sbkrobson Star commenter

    Allow me to soothe you by correcting that statement-you have been receiving extra observations as a form of targeted fault finding where no fault lies.

    If there really is issue with what you are doing, all that needs to be done is for somebody to say, for example "hey, could you fix the fact that you need to do more activites around thinking skills, let me know if you need ideas, let me know if I can check in on you sometime, thanks, bye". That is support.
    fineliner likes this.
  5. catbefriender

    catbefriender Lead commenter

    Going to your GP and seeking union advice as advised is the solution. Remember, that anxiety and stress can be classed as a disability if it is likely to go on for more than six months. Anxiety has always been a problem disability because it is usually caused by something that can go away, like in your case the HT, who will not.

    So, you could request as a reasonable adjustment under the Equality Act 2010, that you are give 14 DAYS notice of an observation as it is causing you to lose sleep, overeat, become irritable to your loved ones, lose focus on your teaching and learning skills etc and list whatever. The HT will not agree to 14 days, but then you can negotiate it down to a week so that you don't have the SLT speciality of the panic LATE Friday night email that sends you into meltdown which states that you have an 8.00 am Monday pre observation meeting, followed by the lesson observation of the class from Hell followed by post observation meeting with a little note stating, 'Don't worry, Martin the DHT will cover your class after the observation!'

    However you must get the union involved in writing this, after you have secured a letter from your GP stating that you becoming ill due to obsessive observations.

    You could also request counselling from your GP, which could take around 6-9 months, and also you should be referred to your OH for counselling as well.

    Support in schools is an oxymoron as support usually is means to harass teachers out of schools. If you fear they want to get rid of you, you have to start the process of protecting yourself from that now so that if you have to leave, you leave on terms that are better for you.
  6. Scintillant

    Scintillant Star commenter

    You work for a ******. I'd get out as quick as possible. There are plenty of places that will snap you up.
    Tinycat1234 and catbefriender like this.
  7. Tinycat1234

    Tinycat1234 Established commenter

    It sounds like a form of torture to me! Who wouldn’t crack under that!? Go to your GP ASAP and got union. One way or another you do not have to put up with this. Get out as soon as you can ensuring you get the best package for you.
  8. hhhh

    hhhh Lead commenter

    Didn't the unions get some agreement that staff could only be observed once a term/year? I'm sure a union rep once told me this was being put in place. As others say, as for up to date union advice on this-I don't know whether anyone on here is qualified to tell you. I appreciate there might be exceptions to this rule, but as earlier posters says, only if it is actually support, which it doesn't sound like it is.
  9. JohnJCazorla

    JohnJCazorla Star commenter

    The Action Short of Strike Action involved instructions that there should only be one observation a term but like all union advice it's only applicable if members are prepared to take a stand. Usually they aren't so the most likely role of the union in this case is making sure the school follows its own Sickness Policy.

    Headteachers do not feel at all bound to union advice and the only ones I've seen who listen to it are those who have a school with union reps who are backed by the members.
    grumpydogwoman and catbefriender like this.
  10. Piranha

    Piranha Star commenter

    What do you do when the Head walks in and starts observing? And, where there are real concerns about the capability of the teacher (I am not saying this is true here) then it is difficult to help without seeing them in action regularly. Of course, this has to be done in a constructive way, not as appears to be happening here.

    I don't think that Heads who are not members of a relevant union have to follow Action Short of Strike Action. Obviously they should consider union advice, but their main responsibility is to the school.
  11. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

    HTs must do what they think best.

    And teachers too.

    So, as union rep, I ensured we implemented ASOSA because I "took my members with me". They agreed that the provisions for work-life balance were sensible and we stood together. So, when we said we'd do an hour's meeting per week, the HT listened. What option did he have?

    Could he have disciplined us all? He'd have no right to do so. Could he have tried to target us individually and throw us off our stride? I suppose so. But he wasn't a psychopath. It made more sense to ensure the weekly meeting was well-run and have our full cooperation and keep morale high.

    The clue is in the name. Union. United. You're not asking for a million-pound bonus. Just stick at it.
    Tinycat1234 likes this.

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