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DH having a nightmare at work. NUT not prepared to help him.

(9 Posts)
totalmisfit Wed 04-Mar-09 09:37:35

DH is a teacher who started a new job 6 months ago. He moved from an urban school to a rural one and has had to adjust accordingly. The 3 of us have uprooted ourselves and everything is riding on him being able to survive in this new school.

Before the move he was enjoying the challenge of working in a school which had just come off special measures. He had a lot of responsibility and it was tough but he also felt he enjoyed the support and respect of the rest of the staff. Now things couldn't be more different.

The first hurdle came in the form of a teaching assistant who had been at the new school forever. At first she appeared helpful, just helping him learn the ropes etc, if a little overbearing and anally retentive at times. Over the past 6 months she has grown ever more undermining and devious, constantly picking holes in whatever he does, telling visitors to the class to report to her rather than him, going behind his back to management about every little thing so that he feels unable to even breathe without fear of getting it wrong.

To make matters worse, this is an incredibly tight-knit rural community where, even if you are approved of you still have to break your way in, in order to form friendships etc. Of course this teaching assistant is already best pals with every high ranking member of staff DH might have sought support from. He has attempted to raise issues at meetings and be heard by the deputy head et al, he's basically shouted down, told that the TA is 'only trying to help' etc.

Now these attempts have backfired and all he seems to have achieved is to have 'drawn attention to himself' so that he is now being monitored, assessed etc much more closely and the pressure on him has increased to an unbearable level. His last formal assessment was a disaster, he feels mainly because of the way he is percieved rather than his teaching abilities.

At to this the mindless, endless bueracracy that every teacher has to deal with and the fact that the local NUT rep has refused point blank to give him any support or help at work (because she feels he only joined the union to tackle these issues hmm). I wouldn't be surprised if she was less than impartial and had connections at the school in question, friendships even, as she is local and everyone knows absolutely everyone round here. It's like living in the 1950s but not in a good way.

This morning he had a severe panic attack. Not surprising given the level of stress he is under constantly. I am very worried about the effect all this is having on his mental health.

He has PPA time one morning a week and his boss recommended that he work from home as he is a long way from the school. Yesterday one of the kids asked why he was never in on that particular morning, another kid piped up 'thats the morning mr misfit has a lie in'. Now he's convinced this is something the TA has said behind his back to undermine him, which, given her general attitude is fairly likely. Might not be, but that's the frame of mind he's in at the moment.

Any advice most welcome.

kc3 Wed 04-Mar-09 10:37:09

No experience as a teacher but this sounds just like my local, narrowminded village school. They require all their teachers to think and act exactly the same and do not value, ideas, inspiration or change.

I would get out well he can rather than be ground down to fit into their box. Aim to go somewhere ideas and experience are valued. Sorry to sound harsh but my children travel in the opposite direction to this village school to get away from small village superiorness!!

sobloodystupid Wed 04-Mar-09 10:43:14

Sounds absolutely horrendous. I worked in a rural school and the kids were trying but the management were absolutely woeful!
tbh sounds like he should cut his losses and start looking elsewhere. sorry he (and you) are having such a tough time, sad

totalmisfit Wed 04-Mar-09 10:55:24

That's just what he's been saying, that he should start looking elsewhere. tbh, i was sort of advising him against it as it's only been 6 mths and this is his second school since qualifying...

seems like the 21st century has yet to reach some parts of britain, doesn't it?

kc3 Wed 04-Mar-09 10:56:49

Would you mind me asking what area in the UK you are?

flowerybeanbag Wed 04-Mar-09 10:58:05

I understand his frustration, it sounds like a nightmare situation and obviously even more disappointing given the upheaval you've all been through.

I'm not sure what he would like the union rep to do though? I agree that it sounds as though her attitude isn't great and she wouldn't be much use anyway, but this sounds like the situation where he needs to deal with it himself if possible or walk away. Unless he is putting in a grievance or something, I'm not sure this is something a union could do much about really.

Apologies I don't know how schools work, but does his teaching assistant report to him? What is he doing to address this with her directly?

Some of the other problems you mention might just be too great for any one person to address, and be more about the environment he is in rather than anything else, so looking elsewhere would also seem like a good option.

slug Wed 04-Mar-09 11:30:06

Ah, the TA with an overinflated sense of their own importance. I know the type well.

If he does decide to stay he needs to escalate the Union involvement. Tell him to get in touch with the regional rep. They are very useful, especially with micro managing Heads. There is alot of advice and support to be found here. Record every incident and record SMT's failure to support him. If he had a bad formal assessment then he needs to get the Head to discuss what measures are being put in place to support him. Write and record everything.

As to dealing with the TA, it depends on how brave he is. He could try the "Really Mrs X, when you have completed a degree and a PGCE and have QTS then you can run the class. Until then, however, I'd appreciate it if you realise that I'm in charge here." or the short sharp "Is that in your job description Mrs X?" or "Why did you not bring that up with me first Mrs X? I could have cleared up your misunderstanding very quickly if you had pointed out (his percieved mistake) to me first."

Most TAs are brilliant and are perfectly capable of running classes on their own. Some just have to be shown who is boss. I had one once who really was a bit power mad. The tactic I used with him was to have a 5 minute debrief at the end of each class where I highlighted what needed to be done in the next class and genty, but persistently, highlighted where he had failed to follow my instructions and the consequences of his actions. If all else failed I would dazzle him with some obsucre educational theory.

Heated Wed 04-Mar-09 11:57:10

Go up a level to regional, or swap unions. There's no point paying subs if they don't support when they are called upon.

The first year in any school is the hardest as you make yourself established. There will be hiccups but EvilTaWoman sounds a right pita. Document each cause for concern in a diary so it's dated. Be rigidly professional in dealing with this TA, I bet there are others who hate her guts too. Practice phrases that remind her of her position - outline her tasks for her every day/start of each lesson. If SMT raise an issue that can only have come from the TA, then each time make clear that professionally you take issue with that and make that the issue. Ask for her to be moved. If his health continues to be affected then see the GP.

It is perfectly possible he's made a mistake in choosing this school; they are in special measures for a reason - usually it's because there is a weak or dysfunctional SMT, with power pockets in school. Dh's school is a similar place (quite a few staff off through stress related illness) and dh has made himself unpopular on occasion when calling attention to dubious professional conduct - but he has the hide of a bull. In fact I wonder if he's in the same LEA!

Why not look for other jobs? - It makes things much more bearable if you know you have an exit strategy.

LauriefairycakeeatsCupid Wed 04-Mar-09 17:26:42

the school he's at now is not in special measures - he understandably enjoyed the school in special measures as it was far more pulling to act like a team I guess

Sounds horrendous this school. Yes document everything, perhaps give the TA at the start of the lesson a plan of what you want her to do. Make her follow the instructions by de-briefing at the end and saying what you thought she did well and what you would like her to improve on - I like what Slug said about that.

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