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Working with difficult family

Discussion in 'Workplace dilemmas' started by princesslegend, Mar 14, 2019.

  1. princesslegend

    princesslegend Occasional commenter

    Good Morning TESsers! Hoping for a bit of advice...

    I'm relatively happy in my current school although I am looking for progression. A job has come up in a terrific school (and there will probably be room for progression). However, a family member is a pupil there. I have a terrible rlationship with her mother - a close blood relative who has quite severe untreated MH issues. She is always kicking up a fuss, telling lies abot me to her friends and other family members and generally saying i'm unfit to be around kids.

    If i went for the job and got it, i've no doubt she would be on the phone to the school. However, this is a brilliant school and could do wonders for my career progression.

    What would you do?
    jlishman2158 likes this.
  2. mothorchid

    mothorchid Star commenter

    If you don't apply there is no doubt this issue won't arise, because you won't have the job.
    However, my instinct would be to apply and see what happens. If you are appointed, that would be a moment to mention the possibility of trouble ahead to the SLT. Certainly, you could do your best to avoid the pupil, though, depending on your subject and the size of the school that might not be feasible. But you could ask. (I did this only once, when I had a cousin who was causing trouble within the family, and I requested not to teach her son. I explained, and the Head and HoD were fine with it.)
    But long term, if you stay there for a few years, following the path upwards that you mention in your post, this child will have moved on and the issue will have faded away.
    However, only you know the person concerned. Only you can make the choice.
  3. Vince_Ulam

    Vince_Ulam Star commenter

    Apply. Why should you worry about unsubstantiated rumours? This woman might already have a reputation for being difficult with the school's SLT.
  4. meggyd

    meggyd Senior commenter

    I taught in my children's school. I always asked the timetabler to put me well away from them. Nothing to do with ill feeling. It is a perfectly reasonable request not to teach family and you don't need to give a reason. In a biggish school it should be possible although I can see in some situations it might be difficult. Only you can know that from your subject and size of the school.
  5. Curae

    Curae Lead commenter

    Sorry you are experiencing this. I would go for it regardless. Something similar happened at mine and as a result the school set up a policy on how to deal with say 'aggressive accusations / phonecalls which were obviously totally unsubstantiated This school may well have one. Obviously inform [when you get the job] that it's important you do not teach said child.
    grumpydogwoman and jlishman2158 like this.
  6. caterpillartobutterfly

    caterpillartobutterfly Star commenter

    I was going to say this.
    If she is as you say, she will be a nightmare parent for the school and they'll back you all the way.
    agathamorse and jlishman2158 like this.
  7. frustum

    frustum Lead commenter

    A decent school will help you avoid the child, and will be supportive, especially if you forewarn them. The bit that the school can't control, of course, is what she might say to fellow parents, which has the potential to make things more difficult. Primary or secondary?
  8. magic surf bus

    magic surf bus Star commenter

    Be aware that you'll never have total control over what is said about you, especially through social media. In that respect it might be wise to disengage from social media as far as you possibly can, and certainly not to rise publicly to any bait that's set for you.

    However, that is true of any school and any difficult parent. What's specific to your case is any 'inside' knowledge this family member may have about you.

    Both my kids went to my secondary school so I understand part of the family conundrum - it's usually more about how your kids' friends and classmates react than anything else, so your young relative will come under some pressure for sure.

    If you choose to go for the post do it by the book and only mention the family issue if you're selected for it. It won't be relevant until then. Certainly try to avoid teaching her if it's feasible. I managed to avoid teaching my kids until KS4.

    School will have to deal with mother as policy dictates, but there's no harm in making them aware of the potential issue if you're appointed.
    agathamorse likes this.

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