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Can parents have any influence on teacher allocation for next term

(28 Posts)
jackieuhoh Wed 06-Jul-11 17:58:53

DS' teacher for next year has for the past three years taken many months of school for depression related illness. This year she had to be replaced for a total of four months. I do not believe she is coping when she is "well". She is disorganised, too strict - bordering on aggressive and has made many of her current class of 7 year-olds not want to come to school. Quite a few parents have complained to the head teacher but she claims there is nothing she can do about it since it is a "performance issue" ie. this teacher achieves the grades expected. My DS loves learning and I don't want this to change. Is there anything the parents of this class year can do to get a different teacher? I do sympathise with this teacher - it must be a struggle to deal with depression - but how many years can this go on for?

LynetteScavo Wed 06-Jul-11 18:01:53

If you don't want her then, I guess other parents wont want her either. The head has to put her somewhere.

jackieuhoh Wed 06-Jul-11 18:31:33

I would not wish this teacher on any other class. I don't see why childrens' education should suffer year after year in this way. So far 3 x 30 children have had to have a series of supply teachers and the lack of continuity that brings. It should not be allowed to go on for another year.

hockeyforjockeys Wed 06-Jul-11 18:44:20

It is an incredibly difficult situation for head's to have to deal with, and quite frankly they will not see your daughter as any more important than any other child so complaining and asking for them to be moved else where will do sweet fa. From the head's point of view they have a member of staff that they are legally required to not discriminate against because of health issues, if they do they could potentially face an employment tribunal. If they are able to demonstrate a good standard of work (i.e. through observations and book/planning monitoring) when they are well then there is absoloutely nothing they can do. In a lot of schools, where the budget can take it, they would put somebody like this in a non-class based role (normally PPA cover or small group support), but if the school is small or money is tight then a class teacher position is all they have for them.

Other than the long-term sick leave I don't know where you've got your judgements on her. If it is playground gossip then I would wait to make your own judgements; going to the head saying you've heard various things about this teacher will not do you any favours.

clam Wed 06-Jul-11 18:56:15

In a word: no.

jackieuhoh Wed 06-Jul-11 19:01:10

Hockeyforjockeys, thanks for such a useful reply.

hockeyforjockeys Wed 06-Jul-11 19:16:01

Hope it was useful! Nice to have the thanks, often you get a bit of hard time on here with unhappy parents when you have to explain things from a school's perspective.

diabolo Wed 06-Jul-11 19:44:04

clam - I have to disagree.

At my son's old Primary, at the end of Y1, the Chair of Governors arranged for her daughter, (ONLY her daughter - no other children) to move to the other class, so that in Year 2 she was with the more experienced, well regarded teacher. The rest of the class moved up to a teacher with an appalling reputation who was, quite frankly, useless.

I withdrew DS halfway through the year, after being told by her at a Parents Evening that "asking children to try and spell words properly will stress them out"!

I appreciate the OP's situation is somewhat different, but IME you can change teachers, but only if you are influential / important in some way.

jackieuhoh Wed 06-Jul-11 19:58:50

Unfortunately neither influential or important - in this area anyway! I had not thought of trying to move DS to another class. Most parents of children in his class feel the same way as me. I was wondering if a collective action on the part of the parents would encourage the head to think again with regards to giving this teacher a non-teaching, supply, small group role? Any thoughts?

AbigailS Wed 06-Jul-11 20:06:16

I can't imagine the school has a healthy enough budget to employ another teacher to teach your DCs class and still pay the original teacher to be non-teaching.

clam Wed 06-Jul-11 20:15:32

diabolo that sounds appalling - if it was for no other reason than that it was the HoG child. But there might well have been other reasons which you weren't privy to. Unlikely, but possible. But it's not a typical scenario - at least, I should hope not.
jackieuhoh I'm sure the Head is aware of the issues of this teacher having a class responsibility - she's had to manage the fallout from her absences to date, after all, and she will have looked at viable alternatives. But costs are a massive issue, and it may be that there are no non-teaching roles available or suitable. Someone's children have to have her, unfortunately.

ThisIsJustASagaNow Wed 06-Jul-11 20:17:23

How do you know what's wrong with her? Wouldn't that be confidential?

fourthattempt Wed 06-Jul-11 20:21:01

Its very very hard indeed when your child has a teacher you do not think is performing well. Sympathies.

jackieuhoh Wed 06-Jul-11 20:28:37

These things have a habit of leaking the longer they go on.... The issue is not what is wrong with the teacher but the length of time it has been going on and the number of children it has affected.

manicinsomniac Wed 06-Jul-11 21:15:55

It's very difficult and I do feel for you but no, I don't think there's anything you can fairly do about it.

The teacher has a right to do her job as well as she can within the limits of her health difficulties. She cannot and should not be penalised for having a mental health problem.

Your child and all the others in the class have a right to a positive year of good education.

The poor headteacher has somehow got to marry those two seemingly mutually exclusive facts.

On the positive side, I don't think one year of a less than ideal teacher permanently harms a child. I'm sure most of us have had one at some point in our childhoods.

jackieuhoh Wed 06-Jul-11 23:19:48

I agree that she should not be penalised for having a mental health problem. The school have supported her for quite a few years now and rightly so. However, this is not a desk job we are talking about. This is a job which has a profound effect on the development of our children. One year of bad teaching most definitely CAN cause permanent damage to a childs educational progress. Especially if that child does not benefit from a supportive home. I would have thought that at this point it is clear that this person is not going to get better and perhaps even that the stress of teaching is a trigger for her depression. I am confident that my son will get through this year but why should we be talking about "getting through" and "making do"?

Mumwithadragontattoo Wed 06-Jul-11 23:39:07

Employers can sack employees with poor attendance even on grounds of ill health. The question is though what you can do as parents to get them to go down this road. I think you need talk to other parents in the class and then perhaps send a letter to the head signed by all of you expressing your concerns about the teacher continuing in her role when she is absent so frequently. Ask the head to arrange a meeting of the affected parents to discuss the situation. The teacher cannot continue in the way you describe.

magicmummy1 Wed 06-Jul-11 23:50:39

I have encountered this problem as a manager in another sector, and I am not convinced that the head teacher can do nothing. As far as I understand it, an employer is legally obliged to make reasonable adjustments for disabled staff, and if this teacher has recurrent mental health issues, then it is very likely that she would be regarded as disabled under the terms of the DDA. However, there is an argument that it is unreasonable to allow this situation to be repeated year after year because it is disruptive to the children (but difficult to prove if results are on track) and presumably it costs to bring in cover while the teacher is on full sick pay. If there was a strong case that the necessary adjustments required to continue employing this teacher were not considered reasonable, then I think the teacher could be sacked, or possibly retired on ground of I'll health etc.

Not necessarily saying that this is what should happen - the poor teacher obviously has enough on her plate and I wouldn't wish losing a job on anyone. But unless schools function on very different rules, I don't think it's out of the question to remove someone from a job if they are consistently off sick for long periods at a time.

That said, I doubt you'll achieve anything by going to the head. You never know, the teacher might surprise you and your ds might have an amazing year with her! Hope it all works out!

magicmummy1 Wed 06-Jul-11 23:52:28

ill health, not I'll!

hester Wed 06-Jul-11 23:57:30

Is it really right that you can't sack a teacher who isn't doing her job properly? That she has the right to do the job within the limits of her health difficulties? Surely the first response should be to support her to get back to health, but ultimately an employer has no duty to keep a job open for someone who is not up to it. I just don't believe the HT has to give equal consideration to the children's needs and the teacher's, though obviously s/he does have to ensure that any action taken is fair, proportionate and carried out according to policies and procedures.

IndigoBell Thu 07-Jul-11 10:24:06

The only thing you can do is to get her fired by having factual complaints against her sad

Is this what you want to do?

If you do, then you need to formally complain about everything you can until the HT has enough evidence to fire her (if he wants to).

If it was my child, I'd rather they had a bad teacher for a year, then being responsible for them getting fired.

As a manager I once fired someone. And I regret it to this day - and would almost never do it again.

hester Thu 07-Jul-11 10:31:16

I'm not an HR expert, but I don't believe the only solution is to get her fired by putting him complaints. And I don't believe it is fair to anyone to keep someone in a job that they are not suited for. IndigoBell, do you really think all bad teachers should be kept on? What if your child ended up having not one bad teacher, but four or five? Do you think an incompetent brain surgeon should be kept on? An incompetent air traffic controller?

Look, this is not just about the children. It's about the teacher, who is being expected to carry on in a job that she can't cope with. That must be making her miserable. She doesn't need to be taken down a disciplinary route; her line manager should be going down the capability route, doing a proper assessment of her medical condition and how that fits with the demands of the job. Then the discussions start about the way forward: could she stay in her job with extra support? Or could she be given more time away from the classroom, in a different kind of role, for a year or two while she builds up her strength?

It sounds as though the HT is completely failing his duty of care to both staff and children here. It is not acceptable, and not fair to anybody.

thebeansmum Thu 07-Jul-11 11:41:33

This could be my child's school. Exactly the same situation. My DS had an aggressive, bordering on bullying, type of teacher who had been off a lot the year before due to depression. I still feel some couple of years later that he may as well have skipped the whole year, for the good it did. There were at least ten complaints made (that I know of, and I am rarely there for playground gossip!) to the Head. Said teacher is still the one everyone dreads their child be allocated to, and is still there, scowling and grumbling at everyone. However, every other teacher we have had has been fantastic, and if we can get through primary school with one 'clash', I think we're doing OK. Hope that proves to be the case for you too, OP!

simbo Thu 07-Jul-11 11:50:07

The only practical thing that you can do is keep a close eye on your own child's progess and make a note of any areas of concern, based on actual current performance. If there is anything that you are personally unhappy about you should notify the Head and copy in the Chair of Governors. On the other hand, prolonged absence by an undesirable teacher may give a supply teacher a chance to shine, which could be good news.

cansu Thu 07-Jul-11 20:31:49

I am a bit concerned that you feel able to make a judgement on this teacher's performance and illness based on playground gossip. If you are concerned about your child's progress next year then you can complain to the head then. I think you will do yourself no favours whatsoever trying to have this teacher removed from her role based on what you have heard from other parents or children.

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