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Work related stress - head not helping

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by kji, Mar 29, 2018.

  1. kji

    kji New commenter

    i was appointed to a joint curriculum leader role in a new school in September but I have been doing the job by myself since. My line manager is the deputy head and he is also new in post. Our LM meetings are not minutes and he rarely guides me on anything.

    I have met every deadline and completed everything asked of me but the stress started to show in January. I told my line manager that I was crying all the time (I was crying when I told him). He told the head who told me I need to decide if 'I'm up to the job'.

    In February the department was put through a mock ofsted. Being new to the role I had not been put through ofsted at this level before. In 2 agendas I requested support and advice regarding this but I didn't get it.

    After going through the process I was called to the head so office with my line manager and I was told I had failed. The department was in a mess and it was all down to my weak leadership. The head then told me again to decide if I was 'up to the job'. I was so shocked I couldn't defend myself. I was shaken that the doctor signed me off straight away.

    I have visited OH and they have said that I need a SRA completed, a change in line manager, someone to help with the joint role and minutes taken at my meetings so that I have an action plan to follow. My union are involved but my head is saying that I can't take a rep with me to meet with him during my RTW meeting. He also says he will only consider some of the recommendations and insists I meet with him by myself.

    I know that if I had been line managed properly the department would have performed better. I also know that some of the shortcomings of the department come from the fact that the leadership is weak at the top.

    He can be aggressive and I am really scared about going into a meeting with him by myself because I think he is trying to scapegoat me and will bully me into resigning.

    I am also very concerned about the impact all of this might have on my career.

    Any thoughts?
  2. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    You might not like all of my thoughts...

    OH seem to have slightly overstepped the mark here and your head might well be reasonable to say they can only consider some of the recommendations.
    The stress risk assessment would seem fine.
    A change in line manager probably not.
    Is the joint role in writing somewhere? Is there anyone in school who can actually help with it? If neither of these, then you probably can't insist on it.
    Are you sure minutes from every meeting are needed? Can you take notes yourself of any actions you agree to do? Then follow with an email to the LM, saying "Just checking we agreed that I would XYZ and you would ABC."

    You need to take responsibility for the department.
    Maybe go to the meeting with the head with an action plan of how you will sort out the department. Your LM isn't there to do this for you, merely to support you should there be reluctance to follow you ideas and / or instructions.
  3. kji

    kji New commenter

    Hi and thanks for the reply.

    I find your comments really helpful and I agree the change in LM seemed extreme to me. My offer letter states joint role which is what I applied for and they knew I was an inexperienced leader at this level when they hired me.

    The problem I have found is my LM won't offer support. I asked him to tell me what I should expect / expected of me in a meeting with ofsted inspectors and all he asked me was if I knew what the whole school priorities are. I know now that a lot more is expected. I have also taken notes and followed through on actions he has directed me to do but he often denies ever telling me to do it.

    It feels like I'm constantly being set up to fail. It seems like the head believes I was fully prepped for the mock ofsted because that's what my LM has told him.
  4. grumpydogwoman

    grumpydogwoman Star commenter

  5. kji

    kji New commenter

  6. install

    install Star commenter

    You might consider the following-

    1 Request a new LM stating that you want to implement urgent action points with full support. This most likely will not happen - but the changes you want to make may now be heard. Keep a polite and professional paper / email trail.

    2 Act on weaknesses highlighted in report - accept them and show you know what to do.

    3 This is a Mock Ofsted - and the school thinks it is judging the dept and its weaknesses correctly? This may be a 'set up' and it may be wrong - but is there a three year trend here of poor results and is there something really concerning them? Slt will be looking for one person who will take the 'can' should there be a real Ofsted - and that may be you

    4 If anything, this is a 'test' of how tough you are as a leader and whether you will give up or go for making a difference in the way you know how. And it sounds like your ht simply maybeant you to shake things up and make some decisions and action points for the better of the school

    5 If they think you are a weak leader, prove them wrong but bring your leaders within your team onside. It will be your team too that will make you.

    6 There is also of course the Union who will offer advice on stress too if you feel this is all very unfair and unsupportive.

    Good luck - and take care of yourself and your health whatever you decide to do. It is just a job ...
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2018
  7. kji

    kji New commenter

    Thanks for the advice.

    I know I'm up to the job but it's been a shock turning up on my first day to do a joint role and then being told I'm on my own.

    I've learnt a lot but learning as you go in this role has been wearing.

    Not sure what I'll do part of me thinks I should prove them wrong and the other part thinks I'll just go somewhere else.

    Thanks again
    install likes this.
  8. install

    install Star commenter

    Perhaps there are mixed messages about the 'shared' roles and responsibilities?

    Clarify your individual role and accountability in writing as well as that of the shared person in role. Is it an equal split of accountability ? Are there cliques here ? Check to see that this is fair and reasonable.Share with Union if necessary.
  9. kji

    kji New commenter

    Yes I will! When I was signed off I wrote to the head and politely pointed out that I was doing a joint role on my own so hopefully he will reflect and want to clarify that too.
    install likes this.
  10. install

    install Star commenter

    Sounds like you need to keep it formal..you need details in writing of your individual post.It may be that they are not expecting you to be so strong and precise - but clarity is needed here to avoid all the confusion. It may be that they have got this all wrong - in which case they maybe will not be keen to show the exact details of your accountability alone?
  11. kji

    kji New commenter

    My head is insisting I keep it informal and therefore cannot have representation. I keep replying politely telling him I want my rep with me and that is the advice from ATL. He is desperate to keep the rep out.

    I'm getting worried that I'll be viewed as a trouble maker
  12. install

    install Star commenter

    Union time - sounds like there may be some game playing here...Let your Union know too about your worries of how you think you might be perceived. Unions are there for a reason - so that employees are not taken advantage of .

    Sounds like you simply want to do a good job and what your responsibilities are. That is not informal in any school if they want you to succeed.
    Sunshineandrainbows99 likes this.
  13. kji

    kji New commenter

    What do you mean game playing - naive I know!

    My rep,works at the school so she's viewed all the emails and drafts my responses for me. She's good. They're all very reasonable and professional.
  14. install

    install Star commenter


    'Game playing' maybe by your lm - not supporting you but quick to blame you maybe.

    Either way - good luck with this.
  15. kji

    kji New commenter

    That's exactly what's going on

    Thanks for your supportive comments
    install likes this.
  16. koopatroopa

    koopatroopa Senior commenter

    Even if you don't take a union rep. into the meeting with you, you can take a supporter who has no active part in the meeting but can take notes and be a friendly witness to the conversation. If you offer your resignation verbally while under pressure in a meeting you can then withdraw it afterwards.

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