DH facing capability measures - your advice and support needed please.

(132 Posts)
Crimebusterofthesea Fri 13-Dec-13 10:50:41

So, DH has come home and has said that following an inadequate lesson observation, he is being placed on formal capability measures. He feels like this is a bolt from the blue as his last lesson observation was rated 'Good'. The school is renowned in the area for being an impossible place to work and since DH has been there, so many teachers have left because the pressure is beyond ridiculous and expectations are just beyond what seem fair, reasonable and achievable (I'm aware that this is the case across most schools, but his school has a reputation IYSWIM).

I am so scared for him, for us, for our family. He is broken. They have beaten him down to a point where he feels worthless and truly inadequate in every way. I need help to understand the process and whether the reasons behind doing this are fair and reasonable. His last scrutiny of work was 'Good', his last observation before this one was 'Good'. I know that they have told him that he isn't meeting the targets with regards to pupil progress, but they just get more and more impossible and harder to achieve.

He is far from being a lazy, coasting teacher (70 hours a week normal) and he takes such pride and care in his work. Last week he was up until 11 every night doing his topic books. He just feels that the strive for outstanding means that the school don't want him there as ATM he isn't an outstanding teacher and he is the first to admit that he probably never will be.

He was off sick a couple of weeks ago and I keep looking at the card his class made for him upon his return - 'Hooray!! So glad you are back!' it says. I'm being overly sentimental I know, but my goodness, this is hard.

So, if you have read this far, thankyou. What will happen next? He has a meeting planned for the last day of term which will either result in a formal notice to improve, or things can apparently return to normal. I may have got this wrong though. What are the chances of him finding another teaching job? Are unions any good when it comes to this sort of thing?

I'm just rambling now but any words of support and encouragement would be greatly appreciated. Thankyou.

custardo Fri 13-Dec-13 10:52:36

im not a teacher but my first reaction would be to contact the union, have a representative with him at any meeting

hope someone comes along with some knowledge

IsobelEliza Fri 13-Dec-13 16:31:47

I think it is quite possible to apply for other jobs. It may be worth asking what sort of reference the head would give him.

Crimebusterofthesea Fri 13-Dec-13 19:45:34

He has already found one job he is going to apply for, it's just the reference he is worried about. This is his 7th year of teaching and he has never been given an 'inadequate'. He hac contacted the union and they have been helpful and supportive so that's something.

stgeorgiaandthedragon Sat 14-Dec-13 09:25:56

I don't want to scare you but if they are putting him onto formal capability, he needs to resign immediately.

If you have contacted the union, they should be able to negotiate a deal where he leaves with an agreed reference and no mention of capability procedures.

So sorry this is happening to you .

Misssss Sat 14-Dec-13 11:16:03

Your poor DH, I thought they put you on informal capability or a support plan first. He needs to contact his union ASAP if he has not done so already. I would also think about going off sick with work related stress - the union should be able to negotiate a compromise agreement with a small payoff and an agreed reference. It sounds awful but I know plenty of teacher who this has happened to and their are now in nicer schools and doing fine. Good luck to you!

Crimebusterofthesea Sat 14-Dec-13 14:31:48

Why does he need to resign immediately?! I'm really scared now, can you explain? Will it be on his record for good then?

Crimebusterofthesea Sat 14-Dec-13 14:33:18

And what will happen if he signs himself off with stress? Will that delay things? I can't get my head round this.

Hessy Sat 14-Dec-13 14:52:32

I don't have any advice I'm afraid. I'm just so very this is happening. WTF is wrong with SLTs these days? What values are we teaching these children about kindness and respect?! It's such a sad indictment of education today. I'm hoping the union can help. hmm

Hessy Sat 14-Dec-13 14:53:23

So very sorry * this is happening

leolion Sat 14-Dec-13 15:09:53

I am disgusted by the poster who suggested that your dh should go off sick on work related stress. Sick leave are for those who are genuinely ill and should not be for those who decide that they don't want to be at work, or to force the hand of their employer. Do not medicalise what are essentially managerial issues. This is tax payers money we are talking about.

However, OP I'm really sorry about your DH and would advise that he speaks to HR and get some advice from his union. What a horrible situation to be in, especially when he sounds so dedicated. He will not be the only one that has been through this, and he will come out of it the other end. Legally, a school cannot get rid of staff without putting in supportive measures first and showing that they have done their bit to try and get the individual up to the standard they expect, especially as he has a good track record.

The best of luck with everything.

LEMisafucker Sat 14-Dec-13 15:28:11

Threads like this break my heart. For several reasins. Firstly, the emotional stress it is putting the op and her family through. I considered teaching and taught in fe college for a while. It was madness - the only way to get through it was do a half arsed job most of the time and focus everything on observations. I loved the teaching but buckled under the additional pressures and wrote off doing a pgce. I have read so many threads that have confirmed that I have made the right decision. Mist importantly, I despair for the children they are being taught by teachers at the end of thier ropes who focus is not in the classroom but constantly having to work yowards changing targets. It is the students that are being wronged and its worrying.

I truly don't ubderstand why teaching needs to be do hard that the only ones who surbive either dont give a shit or are super men and women

LEMisafucker Sat 14-Dec-13 15:30:48

Leolion. The sad truth is that many teachers get signed off with stress due to these reasons. The stress is very real

TheFallenMadonna Sat 14-Dec-13 15:33:38

If capability procedures are formally started, then that has to be raised in any reference. Therefore, often a union will negotiate a compromise agreement, with an agreed reference in advance of formal procedures starting.

stgeorgiaandthedragon Sat 14-Dec-13 17:59:50

Yes, that was what I was going to say TheFallenMadonna

Firstly, there is no legal requirement any more for there to be a period of informal capability. Some schools still do (mine does, only it is called a "support package") so schools can and do leap straight to formal capability procedures if they feel they can, although no informal support is frowned upon it is not illegal in any way.

Formal capability has many implications and unfortunately they are serious implications. The most important of these is that once the process has started, it has to be stated on references - even if the teacher comes through them successfully (I'll come to that in a moment) - should they wish to change jobs, for a period of two years after coming off the capability procedures they have to state they were subject to these.

This makes getting a new job extremely difficult and in practice, ends somebody's career unless they come through them successfully and, two years later, apply elsewhere.

The problem is that not many teachers do come through them successfully - they leave. Put bluntly, capability is the school trying to dismiss you. Leaving now - or at least, handing in your notice now, may stop formal capability from becoming a fact and once it does, the best you can hope for is that you come through it and then move on. But personally I would not take my chances. Far too easy for "them" to say a lesson was inadequate or requires improvement.

Seriously, make life easy for yourself and leave. PM me, we need a teacher for two terms ... you may just be in our area!

manyhands Sat 14-Dec-13 20:57:48

I've been there and survived. I don't really want to share all the gory details publically but am more than happy to give advice, PM me.

My advice is to get union support and record all the steps that he is taking to improve. Don't confide in anyway in anyone in school and get an agreed reference and a compromise agreement rather than enter even informal capability. In the short term to put it bluntly, teach to the test and keep records of the results the kids get from all the cramming.

manyhands Sat 14-Dec-13 21:01:37

If you look at TES workplace dilenmas forum you will find lots of useful advice.

GW297 Sat 14-Dec-13 22:05:41

I would recommend speaking to an employment lawyer to see what they think. The first meeting is usually free I understand.

I would advise that he leaves and takes his hard work and dedication somewhere it is appreciated. Living well is the best revenge.

I am sorry this is happening to your family.

Crimebusterofthesea Sat 14-Dec-13 22:34:17

Thankyou all for your advice, it is greatly appreciated. We have spent all of today collating evidence, crying, collating more evidence and trying to decide what to do for the best. He has been given very little support and the staff handbook states that any teacher that they perceive to require provement will be placed on certain courses and be coached. This certainly hasn't happened. If he loses his job, we lose everything. I am so frightened.

BettyBotter Sat 14-Dec-13 22:35:03

God I'm so glad I'm not teaching any more

So seriously why is this happening to dh? (as in he was getting goods and now inadequate and feeling 'worthless'. His answer may make a difference to what he should do.

Reasons I can think of may be:
- he is extremely stressed and struggling due to MH issues so his performance is slipping (then he needs to get signed off asap)
- staffroom politics - unfortunately common. He has pissed off someone and is being bullied. (get the unions in, note every single meeting, record observations and every comment, fight)
- he is actually struggling as a teacher and has never been quite 'made for teaching' but has survived thus far due to more forgiving regime (perhaps time to reconsider his options and look at other areas he enjoys or less stressful options such as tutoring etc)
- he had a one off bad day and is otherwise an excellent teacher (then let the evidence of his teaching ability speak for itself and put his all into improving in the areas where he has been found lacking).

I find it hard to believe that this is really a total bolt from the blue. A struggling teacher (for whatever good reason) usually knows they are struggling.

And btw - leaving teaching is not the end of the world! wink

stgeorgiaandthedragon Sat 14-Dec-13 23:56:14

That is a really unhelpful response, Betty.

It's obvious this has come as a complete bolt from the blue and I have witnessed it myself although thankfully never been on the receiving end of it. You don't even have to piss someone off to be bullied - lovely that, you're being bullied and it is YOUR fault because you pissed someone off?

I have known staff be bullied out of teaching posts because teaching is a hugely subjective profession. Strengths and weaknesses can mean a teacher can be outstanding one year and requiring improvement the next - if you are a teacher who is excellent with students with special needs then are given a timetable consisting of A level classes in a subject you haven't taught for several years,it's easy to see why someone might struggle (or vice versa!)

In many instances headteachers/SLT can genuinely perceive a member of staff as being a "weak" teacher who needs support when in fact they may be struggling in circumstances anybody would struggle in. This happened to a friend of mine, an experienced and competent teacher in reception and year 1 who ended up stepping in to a year 6 class when an inexperienced colleague was struggling. Three months later, an ofsted visit and a requires improvement for the school and friend found herself being shifted out. The head was new to the school and seemed to genuinely believe friend was not very good, without taking her lack of experience with that year group and stage into consideration.

It's possible to have a bad lesson, once. I do. It's possible, if you're unlucky, to have a bad lesson when being observed and an over-zealous SLT can use this against you. If I observed someone and it was inadequate but they had a track record of goods, I would ask to observe them again to ascertain if it was a one-off or symptomatic of wider issues. Chances are it would be the former. If the latter we would arrange a support package - if after six weeks no improvement, we would consider our options and formal capability might be one of those options depending how severe the concerns.

It has happened many times before and it will happen again. The fact is, it looks like formal capability is a fact here so it becomes a game of damage limitation - I wold strongly recommend the 'get the hell out of there' route. I realise how terrifying this is, I really do, but hanging in there will almost certainly result in further action of some sort. The point is that even the excellent teacher on a bad day will have a hard time convincing SLT of that if they have made moves towards formal capability. Reasonable people would not do this, ergo, your husbands SLT are not reasonable, ergo, dismissal is the likely outcome of this. I am sorry.

Re employment solicitor - unions will frequently refuse to act in your interests if you consult a solicitor: you may need to make a choice. Ultimately a solicitor cold prove extremely expensive and I strongly feel the best thing for your husband would be to resign quietly with a decent reference and a sum of money and the union can arrange this. I am sure he will get another job without too much worry. X

winklewoman Sun 15-Dec-13 08:47:42

HT DH (yes I know DH opinions are despised on MN but he is an HT and I'm not) agrees with everything StGeorgia says. Get out while this is still an option.

Hohohowhatfuckeryitis Sun 15-Dec-13 08:55:32

Please don't advise him to go sick. I am the one at our school that deals with the fallout and believe me, this will make it worse, slt opinion will be negative. Why straight to capability without support? Agree that Union should be there. Also agree though that the pressure on teachers is now totally unreasonable (and we know whose fault that is don't we Mr Pob)

How sad. FWIW OP I have lots of friends who are teachers - they all seem to be finding it a harder place to work these days & those who can seem to be leaving the profession. These are people who have taught for years & love the teaching but cannot deal with the pressure from management & targets & the tracking of each child.

I worry about our kids as well in a system of so much assessment.

Good luck - having seen a family member bullied by management & given unrealistic targets & assessments (not teaching) I would agree with those saying leave with union involvement to protect his reference.

stgeorgiaandthedragon Sun 15-Dec-13 09:11:32

Why straight to capability without support?

Because they can. It is perfectly legal, above board, acceptable, to do this. Some schools still have a period of support but there is no legal requirement to do so.

It's scary how many people do not know this (no criticism intended) but the point is, they can and this has been in place for almost two years now. In practice not many schools will go straight from one bad lesson observation to capability - but they can. Saying its wrong won't change this fact; I agree that it is wrong, hence why we don't do it in my school, but a union will not be able to stop formal capability on the back of a bad lesson observation.

A union can ensure to a point that you are treated fairly during the capability procedure but again think about it - a headteacher wants you out, are they going to choose classes and lessons where you are confident and the children are placid and will show you at your best? No, they will select lessons where children are challenging or graveyard shifts - last lesson on a Friday, anybody? - or a subject where they know your knowledge is a bit shaky.

Plus, here's another dimension to this: you don't have to be inadequate, even! You can be grade '3' (requires improvement) and still be dismissed because all teachers should be good. Ok, except when you look at the grade boundaries, there is actually very little difference between 3 and 4, because 3 is what used to be satisfactory. Hence a good lesson can be told, the headteacher will grudgingly say it was a 3 and the capability continues.

The capability game is difficult to win, and impossible to win if your SLT aren't reasonable or objective. I am on SLT and thankfully there's no one on capability at the moment but two are on support packages and doing well. Also, our headteacher is a lovely gentleman and if somebody did need to be out on formal capability he would offer them the chance to resign and leave with their dignity - and reference - intact. Still awful for the teacher but we do have to think of the children.

So, I am sorry for my long posts here but I have spent years in education and I do know my stuff - your union can advise but you do need to be aware that union support varies significantly. It sounds as if you have a good one which is good. You may be able to have your husband hang on in there until the summer - it's unlikely they'd find a good replacement for Easter - which would give him over six months to find another position. See if your union can help with that.

Lastly, going off with stress for extended periods (I'm not talking a fortnight because someone just can't cope, I mean months) won't work any more either. Capability can and does start in people's absence.

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