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Teacher absolutely exhausted at work.....what can my employer do?

(13 Posts)
julesb86 Sun 18-Oct-15 21:06:23

I am currently 16 weeks pregnant with my second baby (dd1 23mo) and work full-time as a PE teacher in a secondary school. Last time I was pregnant everything was a breeze but this time I am absolutely exhausted both physically and mentally. I teach a full timetable, some days teaching 5 1-hour practical lessons outside and running after school clubs. I feel like it is literally killing me! This Thursday I arrived at work at 8am, got out of my car and absolutely broke down (for nearly an hour) at the prospect of being on my feet from 8.30 until 5pm with what usually amounts to around a 15 minute sit-down throughout the day on top of how exhausted I was already feeling. We recently had our lunch break cut from 55 minutes to 30 (in reality in such a busy school even just getting from A to B cuts it down to about 20!) which has also been a huge shock to the system and really doesn't give me a chance to sit down and do nothing for even a few minutes.

I raised my concerns with my Head of Department on Thursday (once I'd managed to stop myself from crying.....cringe!). He got me one lesson covered so I could sort myself out and then in our meeting on Friday asked me if I wouldn't mind doing an extra hour on a Thursday evening for the next 5 weeks! He obviously didn't get how I was feeling!

I am at my wits end and being only 16 weeks pregnant this really worries me. I know deep down that I need to slow down but I just can't see how I can without calling in sick and I've still got almost 6 months to go!

I'm not sure what my employer can/will be willing to do to reduce my workload. Has anyone ever got a sick note recommending reduced hours or alterations to the working day?

A bit of a rant but would love to hear from anyone who has been in a similar position. Thanks x

Skiptonlass Sun 18-Oct-15 21:28:43

You need to go to your GP and get a fit note, outlining exactly what you're capable of in terms of duties and hours. Try to think of adjustments that could be made - reduced hours, perhaps directing lessons from a camping chair that you can carry around, etc.

Then take that back to your line manager and go from there. Try to sell it to them as you trying to find a way to work around it.

Lowdoorinthewall Sun 18-Oct-15 21:34:42

Self-refer to Occupational Health or ask you HoD to do so.

I imagine they would rather have you on reduced duties than pay for you to be signed off sick so it should be a productive process.

Have you been to your GP? It sounds like you could be anaemic maybe?

mrslewis2015 Sun 18-Oct-15 21:43:10

jules I'm sorry to hear your so exhausted it sounds like your doing a great job and working super hard so it must be so hard! I'm just going into my first pregnancy and already panicking about working whilst pregnant (I work in a very busy nursery) so I imagine how hard it must be! I hope your GP and school can help support you whilst you grow your little human!

Laura7010 Sun 18-Oct-15 23:07:18

I'm a teacher and suffered badly from hg in the first few months. My gp did me a note saying I could only teach important exam classes eg yr 11 and 13, they have to do it. Do you have a risk assessment? Lots of things can be put in place on there, such as a chair and rest breaks. Mine says things like can only work at computer for an hour etc... They were supposed to also support me with spare cover during practical lessons but never did so I complained to the deputy after being off with exhaustion. I've pretty much had someone in every lesson since. Go to your gp, if needs be be off with stress/exhaustion to make them understand what you are going through. Then Make sure you speak to the people at school who will make things happen, I know this is not my hod as it sounds like it's not yours either. Take care smile

blondiejess1982 Sun 18-Oct-15 23:26:32

Did they not do a pregnancy risk assessment? I manage a funeral directors and there has been quite a lot I have been told I am not to do (told by my employers). Unfortunately it is not the stressful and demanding things !

IndomitabIe Sun 18-Oct-15 23:37:08

Loads of good advice already. If you haven't had a risk assessment yet you must insist on it this week (I.e. Before half term).

Exhaustion is something that must be considered on it. Don't minimise how you're feeling.

Another practical suggestion might be to arm you with a yoga ball and megaphone when you're outside (and definitely not walking groups long distances to playing fields - a TA could do that?) or even better taking the lessons which are inside.

If you're feeling really awful then do take time off to rest and see the GP as suggested.

I can't imagine teaching PE and feeling that way. I'm 17 weeks and feeling a lot better than I did last time, but am already finding myself doing a lot of sit-down teaching.

Have a Google for the NUT's Maternity Matters document - I don't know if there's anything about risk assessment etc on there but it might have?

Hope you feel better thanks

IndomitabIe Sun 18-Oct-15 23:49:25

Health & Safety Executive info here confirming that they must provide you with a place to rest, and you are entitled to more rest breaks. There are links to more info there that I haven't followed up.

GingerDoesntHelp Mon 19-Oct-15 07:39:31

I am a teacher with a note from GP reducing my duties. Get one - the school has to abide by it.

TwllBach Wed 21-Oct-15 21:47:07

I am a nursery teacher and am exhausted by the end of the morning session, I don't know how you cope with the a full practical timetable. Hats off to you!

carbolicsoaprocked Wed 21-Oct-15 23:48:25

Definitely go to GP and get a fit note! Agree that they'd rather have your situation managed than you doing too much and having to go off completely. Could you switch with other teachers to do more theory lessons and less practical?

sherbertlemon17 Thu 22-Oct-15 09:13:33

Hi Jules, didn't want to read without leaving you a comment. I'm a PE teacher too, full time, full timetable 4 days a week (all my frees have been grouped together on 1 day, rather than being spread Mon-Fri... Thanks to the genius who organised that! hmm) I'm 33 weeks so a bit further than you and completely feel your pain.

Luckily I've not felt too bad and it's now that I'm reaching the end I'm starting to struggle. With PE it's just not possible to do sit down teaching. H&S wise it can be a nightmare and you need to constantly be up and active to keep the students engaged. Don't get me started on fixtures until 6 at night!

I can't really offer any practical advice, except reiterate the importance of the pregnancy risk assessment and not to play down how you're feeling. As teachers we tend to just "get on with it". Get the kids to demo and sort equipment as much as you can. Non doers are my saviour at the moment!

If you ever need to rant, just let me know smile

absolutelynotfabulous Thu 22-Oct-15 09:18:41

Yes, get a risk assessment and talk to your Union. This happened to me-I was teaching a very full HE timetable and totally and utterly exhausted. In the end I gave up the job, never to return, it was that onerous.

I did get a Risk Assessment done, but it was more a back-covering exercise than anything else.

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