Cause for concern - please can anyone give advice?

(16 Posts)
ColdTeaAgain Wed 14-May-14 14:17:18

OH is halfway through his last placement in the PGCE primary course.

His first two placements went really well, very positive comments from the staff he worked with. He enjoyed the placements and seemed confident, a bit nervous for the observations but I think thats natural when you care about something!

This placement however has been a totally different story. By the end of the first week it was clear that the teacher he would be working with was not on his side. As the weeks have gone by, he has nit picked continuously, said things were wrong when it was following his instruction (eg length of lesson) and openly expressed his dislike of the PGCE course (he did BEd).

OH has now got to the point where all confidence has gone. His is aware of his gaps in his knowledge and when he asks for advice about lesson plans he gets very little support. To me it has felt like the teacher has let him get to this stage and wanted to be proved right about PGCE students not cutting it.

OH has now been placed on Cause for Concern, so last nail in the coffin confidence-wise. It just feels wrong because his other placements were so different but this has been a downward spiral from the start.

Does anyone have any advice on how he can pull this around? Maybe some of you have worked with students who have struggled? Grateful for any thoughts, thanks for reading.

toomuchicecream Wed 14-May-14 18:35:03

How much has he told his university tutor? Get on the phone/email to the tutor asap. Make sure the lack of support is documented. Unfortunately there is a reasonable chance that the teacher/mentor has done this to other students in the past. Can he find out from anyone? If so, it will be evidence to support his cause.

If he's on Cause for Concern then there should be a clearly documented action plan in place stating the support they will be giving him. He needs to get everything in writing and evidence, evidence, evidence that he's not getting the support he needs.

Don't let the university fob him off - he's paid them a lot of money for his course and they should be supporting him.

Your DH has a choice - does he think that, with appropriate university support, he can scrape through? Or does he think that the teacher's so stacked against him that nothing he does will be good enough. If the latter then he needs to start arguing hard for a change of placement. Could he get back in touch with a previous placement and see if he could go back there?

How much longer does he have to go? I suspect the university won't be keen to publicise the fact, but they'll have students deferring/changing placements each time they send them out into school. It will mean extra work for them, but depending on how much more time he has to do they could arrange for him to finish this placement elsewhere (possibly with an extension of a couple of weeks for settling in). Or they could arrange for him to start the placement all over again somewhere else.

Unfortunately some teachers, especially those in management roles, have students in order to reduce their own workload. Which means of course that they aren't available to mentor the student properly. Very very unfair on the student, but that's the way it is.

All is not lost but he needs to be proactive. What is his preferred outcome (scrape through, finish elsewhere, start from scratch elsewhere)? Once he's decided that he can dig his heels in and make it happen.

Of course a lot depends on the university, but my experience as mentor of a failing student is that the university did everything possible to get the student through despite my huge and well-founded reservations (supported by my HT). The university won't want him to fail/drop out because it will look bad on their stats.

Where in the UK are you? If you're in the south east, feel free to pm me in case you're in my area - I've mentored several students now for a couple of different universities.

Justtoobad Wed 14-May-14 18:36:55

He must speak to his uni tutor about it, ASAP. They will guide him. Also speak to school
Prof mentor, ASAP.
He needs to stay strong. It's nearly all done, but if worse comes to worse he can do another placement and still graduate later in dec.

ColdTeaAgain Wed 14-May-14 22:46:00

Thank you both for the replies.

We are in the south west toomuch but thank you for the offer.
I will ask him re action plan, he didn't mention one earlier this evening.
When you say evidence, what sort of evidence do you mean exactly?

I think it is too late to change placement and he said even if he could, he would worry that he would be known as the student that complained etc and ruin his reputation and job prospects before his career has even started.

To give a bit more background, the start of his placement coincided with a death in the family which hit him hard. He was not in the right place and I think the teacher interpreted this as lack of effort.
I can very much see it from the other side as I also mentor students in my job and it is grating if you feel they are not making enough effort. I suspect my OH may have given this impression the first couple of weeks. However he is definitely not lacking in effort now, he works virtually every waking hour. But maybe the first impression is set in stone...

He doesn't want to give up, he isn't a quitter but he is so deflated after this. The cause for concern thing has only happened today. I'm not sure what the criteria is for this happening but it came as shock to me as he did almost a full day of lessons on monday which went really well. But today was his weakest subject and I think his confidence just crumbled.

I have reminded him twice to email his tutor tonight but he just says he has to get his planning right before he does anything else. I suspect he will put it off tonight, being a bit of an ostrich about it! I will make sure he does it before the end of the week. As yet, I don't think uni are aware of his situation, again ostrich!

When he got home today we spoke about it and he said that, after todays disaster, it seemed like the teacher suddenly became sympathetic towards him. Bit rich when its his lack of support that has helped get him to this stage in the first place! I may be reading too much into it but it almost seems like he wanted to knock him down and now if he does manage to pass the placement he will take all the credit for it. I do tend to over analyse though!

I am trying to get him to stay positive about teaching, it's such a shame to see his confidence and enthusiasm go like this. Can't help but think if he'd been allocated a different school or even a different class in the same school, he would be doing much better.

soverylucky Thu 15-May-14 20:00:28

In my experience tutors will do whatever they can to ensure people pass the course and a change of placement may be required. I am sorry not to offer better advice than that - I see others have done loads better up thread. I hope it all works out for him.

Justtoobad Thu 15-May-14 20:07:04

Moons ago, during my training I was accused of hitting a hitting a child.... the school was poor.... my college tutor brilliant.

The school was shut down at the end of the summer term. And no of course I didn't hit a child, but I'm am thankful my tutor and uni stood by me.

ColdTeaAgain Thu 15-May-14 22:19:22

Thank you sovery I hope so too.

Goodness Justtoobad that must of been awful! Glad it all worked out and the school is no more!

Ok, he has a meeting booked with tutor at uni next week. He is at absolute rock bottom tonight sad He looks awful.

He was meant to be getting an application in tonight but looking unlikely or not even worth doing as even if he got shortlisted, the head teacher wouldn't be able to give a good reference anyway with the way things have gone this week.

Tonight he has been saying he thinks he should ask to defer and try again next year (apparently there is someone in his cohort who did this last year) He thinks the children are great and they like him, but he dreads every day he has to spend with his mentor. I just don't know, the end is so close but he is not in a good place at all. How can this placement be so dramatically different to the others? I wish I'd pushed him more to ask for help sooner, he realises now he should have done too but it's done now. I think everytime he had a good observation, it made him think it would be ok.
Fingers crossed the meeting with his tutor will help.

threestars Thu 15-May-14 23:25:41

My mentor this time last year was identical to the one who is bullying your OH. I wasn't put down as cause for concern only, I think, because my tutor was also my seminar leader and knew me quite well, and because my other placement rated my teaching as 'outstanding'. This mentor too was very anti-PGCE.

I also didn't apply for jobs as my confidence was at rock bottom and I felt I didn't have time to prepare a good interview lesson because of the demands of my placement.

I didn't make a big deal about it to my tutor until my very last observation (which didn't go very well as I'd been so anxious) because I was so caught up with planning and pleasing the mentor (impossible task). On that day I opened the floodgates and told her everything and showed her emails from him. Funnily enough, she said he'd also made a point to her about PGCEs not being as good as his own course had been. That got her riled grin. She took copies of the emails back to the uni and did everything she could to turn things around and persuade him I wasn't requiring improvement.

I later found out that other students had complained about his behaviour, (my tutor had been unaware of this) but the uni had to use the school as there'd been a shortage of placements available. So your OH may not be the only one who's had problems with this guy...

I'm glad your OH has been in touch with his tutor. It's definitely worth asking to be moved. He won't have a black mark by his name. He needs to be somewhere that will bolster his confidence again asap, and he sure doesn't owe anything to this mentor or school (I bet he's really well in with the head and feeding him/her with rubbish. All it takes is a supportive staff.

Oh, and I'm working at a fantastic school now and loving it, as will your OH. Good luck.

LUKYMUM Thu 15-May-14 23:34:54

toomuchicecream from your experience (not referring to this case) can people who you feel shouldn't pass, improve if given a chance. Or its it quite clear from the beginning?
I ask because I'm in similar situation to OPs husband. Luckily I have support but I don't know if I should stop because I don't want to pass for the sake of it. I want to be a good teacher.

ShinySilver Fri 16-May-14 13:58:28

OP I really feel for you - my husband has been in a similar situation to yours. He is doing School Direct primary training where you spend 80% of your time in one school and he has had such an awful time in that school. He was put on cause for concern just before Easter despite having a great time and report from his month in his exchange school.

He did not get any extra support for being on cause for concern, the action plan he was given was really lame.

His confidence has been at rock bottom too, but he just kept his head down, got through the days and the staff at the school gradually decided he was ok and took him off cause for concern.

The whole thing has been horrible though, he felt he couldn't apply for jobs as he wouldn't get a good reference, so is only just starting now.

I realise I haven't given you any useful advice but just wanted you to know cause for concern can be got through, it is just so hard at the time.
I especially empathise with you as the wife, it's so awful to watch your husband be crushed every day. I hope things work out for you. [hugs]

ShinySilver Thu 29-May-14 21:55:16

Hi op, just wondering how you and your husband are getting on?

ColdTeaAgain Thu 29-May-14 23:15:42

Hi Shiney, sorry I missed your previous post.

Well the meeting with his tutor was fairly positive in that she didn't think there is any reason why he shouldn't be able to pass the placement. But as far as the issues with the teacher go, there isn't anything that can be done except stick it out but he knew that anyway. Like your husband, Shiney, the action plan is fairly non existent. However, one suggestion was to have more structured non-teaching time as atm this isn't being scheduled in as it should be. When he told the teacher about that suggestion he was just laughed at so that kicked him down again sad

He has been working hard non stop all half term. He feels much more prepared for the next block of teaching. Before halfterm, he was always trying to catch up due to a rough start to the placement, and the snide comments from the teacher everyday sent him on a downward spiral. Just praying his lessons go well and he can regain his confidence.

How is your husband doing with job hunting Shiney?

TheLateMrsLizCromwell Fri 30-May-14 14:11:48

If it helps, my HoD who is a fab teacher, mentor and manager, failed her first PGCE placement for similar reasons. Second one went better, and she passed, and has had a great career (tho' she did have to have 9 interviews before landing a job grin - she is resilient!). Unis do not want people to fail - if they think this is likely they tend to manage the person off the course (person withdraws) so it doesn't affect their chance to re-apply at a future date. Happened to two people on my course in the first half-term, not since.

GoblinLittleOwl Fri 30-May-14 14:41:00

Tell your husband to hold on in there; I have seen only recently two young teachers do their best to destroy their students' placements, regarding their role as one of criticism and judgement; if the students asked for help they were told they should have thought of it earlier, and they openly criticised them to colleagues in the staffroom; your husband's mentor sounds like this. He is entitled to structured non- teaching time; this should be timetabled in and he has a legitimate complaint if it is not. But the important thing is to ride this out; the teaching profession is becoming increasingly judgemental, and the inexperienced youngest teachers seem to be the most unkind. His first year won't be easy but at least the class will be his own.

GoblinLittleOwl Fri 30-May-14 14:44:37

ps: those of us who were^ properly trained^- Training Colleges-regard the B Ed with contempt.

ShinySilver Mon 02-Jun-14 09:03:34

Hi op, I'm glad to hear your husband is feeling more positive and prepared for this half term. That teacher sounds awful - I really think more care should be taken as to which teachers are given students, so many of them just don't care/are downright horrible to them.

My husband has had a couple of interviews but no job yet. All the 21 year olds on the course seem to be walking into their first job so he is quite down at times and has not got a huge amount of confidence about getting a job. I'm sure he will though so am trying to keep him positive.

I hope your husband has a good start back at school this week, it really isn't long to go now until they'll be finished. My husband would like a fast forward button to the end of July, he is so overwhelmed with everything he's got to do this term, but I guess they just need to take it one day at a time.

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