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Please advise me on how to support teacher DH.

(17 Posts)
WorriedWifeOfSir Fri 02-Feb-18 10:43:16

Named changed for this as usual name is quite identifiable, and really don't want this linked in any way.

DH has been a teacher for over 20 years, and is proud of a very successful career so far.

To give the background as I feel it is important: 18 months or so ago, the school had a new head teacher. This created a lot of staffing changes, the SLT was restructured and DH appointed as deputy. The previous HT left a difficult position to fill, he was very well liked and had strongly led the school out of special measures to good with outstanding features. He was a very good manager as well; firm but very fair and supportive when needed.

The new HT is very, very different. She is showy, jazz hands, and connected in all the right places. Makes loads of mistakes that are laughed off by her, yet the pressure is carried by the SLT. Other people are absolutely hauled over the coals if they do anything slightly wrong. Everything about the school is presented as 'amazing', 'my school' and widely shared in an extravagant way to showcase 'her' school. She will not have the previous HT mentioned, purposefully pronounces his name incorrectly and generally seems to not want to acknowledge the extremely hard work of the previous HT / SLT that she has inherited. She is unpredictable and difficult to please. Chair of Govs thinks the sun shines out of her backside, mainly because the profile of the school is being raised locally by her ability to show off.

So, to DH (with apologies for the long winded intro). He is struggling, like I have never seen before. I can't say for certain if it is just the new role, the new HT or a combination of both. We've had a difficult couple of years with one of our DCs being seriously ill, having major surgery, and being in and out of hospital. DC is ok now, but we are still recovering from this.

DH is up to his eyeballs with work and is sinking. He has hit triggers for absence from being off with DC in hospital (wasn't local, we had to go to a specialist centre in another county) and a subsequent bicycle accident injury. He had a lesson observation last week which he failed - this is the first time ever in his career. He was observed by the HT. To give context, when he was observed by Ofsted they gave him an outstanding. He can do nothing right for the HT. He is having work piled on him, and with no-one to delegate to he has got a backlog. He's missed deadlines. The other SLT members are also struggling to get on with the new HT, the other deputy gets on with HT but is struggling with work load.

I hardly recognise the man who stands before me in the evening. I'm worried that he is going to end up having a breakdown sad

How can I support him, other than keeping everything running smoothly at home and listening?

QuiteLikely5 Fri 02-Feb-18 10:46:37

This sounds grim. If I was your husband I would look for another job ASAP.

I would try very hard to keep this woman onside so that references were good

Could he seek the advice of the previous HT?

WorriedWifeOfSir Fri 02-Feb-18 10:51:34

Thanks for the reply QuiteLikely5

You're right, it is grim.

I suggested to DH that he should look elsewhere and move, he says this would be career suicide at the moment. HT would make his life a misery. It is almost like she's trying to get rid of him but wouldn't make it easy to leave.

I had a good relationship with the previous HT. There is little contact now as he moved away from the area when he left / retired but I still have contact details. I almost want to drop him an email and ask if I can seek his advice, but don't think DH would appreciate it. DH would worry about the consequences of voicing what's happening if it got out. New HT seems to hold quite an influence locally.

converseandjeans Fri 02-Feb-18 10:56:13

I would encourage him to find a new position. New Heads seem to like to recruit their own SLT and like to surround themselves by their own chosen team rather than inherit existing ones.
Is there scope for his to drop down to just being a Head of Dept or even regular teacher there?

QuiteLikely5 Fri 02-Feb-18 11:01:22

The sad thing is - if what you say about this woman is correct - the school may go to pot.

Bad head teachers lose their staff easily and usually end up with below par teachers and it’s the school that suffers.

Was her previous school successful?

finks100 Fri 02-Feb-18 11:08:55

Simple advice...look for another job and get out!
I could have written your post, it happened to me, am a different person now in a happy job.

WorriedWifeOfSir Fri 02-Feb-18 11:09:25

converse I think the same. Current SLT have all been appointed by the HT. All but one were existing staff and were chosen over external candidates as far as I know. DH would not back step. I have even suggested relocating so it his reasons for leaving are less obvious. He has family who are a few hours away so we could move closer to them, almost as a cover.

Quite I agree. And maybe one of DH's stresses is that he sees that the work they did to get the school to where it is now is at risk. It took a great deal of time and effort to get out of special measures. The difference is that they had a strong, even-tempered leader to work with. Previous school is unremarkable from what I can find out by a quick google. She has taught in lots of schools though, doesn't seem to stay in one place for very long.

WorriedWifeOfSir Fri 02-Feb-18 11:12:13

If I were to look at SLT jobs to gauge what is out there and work out what options are / where, is TES the best and only place to look?

converseandjeans Fri 02-Feb-18 11:19:53

worried I think then that because he was part of the old team she isn't keen to have your DH as Deputy Head & is deliberately trying to undermine him. It seems unlikely that he would go from being a successful teacher with good observations to suddenly getting a bad lesson observation. Unfortunately it sounds like she is trying to manage him out. He is probably popular and well liked and good at his job & she feels threatened.
It think people don't realize that this sort of behaviour goes on in the school environment. I have seen it happen & it is not nice.
I don't think he should resort to leaving the area just because of her though. If she doesn't like him she will probably give him a good reference so that he gets another job (if that makes any sense).
Other option is to wait and see - if she has moved about a bit then I think it is possible she may come unstuck in this post and eventually move on. Depends if he can try and let things go over his head a bit more. Presumably the governors appointed her so they must like her style.

WorriedWifeOfSir Fri 02-Feb-18 11:31:03

converse you've hit the nail on the head in many ways. I also think she's threatened by DH. Bullying in schools isn't just within the student population....

He is well liked in the school, the students relate to him well as do staff. Previous appraisals have all been favourable both in feedback from staff he's line managed and those doing observations. I remember one member of staff who had got herself into a right pickle and he supported said in his feedback that although they'd had to have difficult conversations she appreciated his kind professionalism and the way he'd handled the situation. I am hoping that she won't hang around for long, and if DH chooses to stay then I need to be able to support him in the best way possible.

Over the weekend I am going to get him to write a list of everything that needs to be done, get it in order of priority and then help him formulate a plan to tackle it.

converseandjeans Fri 02-Feb-18 11:35:33

I think he should ask for another observation from his HOD with a group he feels relaxed with. Otherwise this will go on his file as his observation for the year. At least that way he would have some positive feedback to use as evidence.

Rockandrollwithit Fri 02-Feb-18 11:39:53

OP I'm SLT and on maternity leave at the moment. He absolutely needs to leave and look for another job. If he is worried about how the HT will react, he could look for a job in another borough / county if this is possible where you live.

I had a really naff observation soon after being appointed to SLT, it's so demoralising as you feel under pressure to be the 'best' as you have been promoted. But my HT and the rest of SLT aren't horrid and recognised that it was one bad observation in a history of consistently good or better ones.

Being on SLT is very difficult, I didn't realise how hard it would be until I started. You absolutely need the support of the rest of your SLT to do a good job.

newstart2018 Fri 02-Feb-18 11:43:28

I would encourage your husband to get a job at another school especially if his health is suffering! My brother had a horrendous head teacher who hounded him repeatedly he moved to a lesser position in another school unfortunately he never really recovered and had a massive heart attack and died aged 56!

WorriedWifeOfSir Fri 02-Feb-18 16:24:10

I hope DH comes home feeling a bit happier now he’s told me about what’s happening and that he doesn’t have to deal with this alone.

Phineyj Wed 07-Feb-18 19:13:29

I think run two plans in parallel (or three): try everything you can think of to make the job more doable for him. Simple things can help - make a date chart of the days left till the next holiday and cross them off in thick black marker! I won't suggest a dart board with the HT's picture on.

Meanwhile, encourage him to look for another job.

I actually think you could explore the moving if you're both up for it. My experience has been that looking for new jobs is okay in a reasonable school but can make things worse in the short term in a horrible school (because as you are no doubt aware, you have to tell them that you are going for an interview, get references in advance, get your lessons covered, have work to catch up on...) You're correct that 'we are relocating' is a reason where nobody loses face.

You could at least go to the area over half term and make a list of practicalities.

He could comfort himself with the thought that people like this do often not stay long. But it may seem like a long time while putting up with this sort of rubbish.

vitaminC Wed 07-Feb-18 19:41:28

This is exactly what happened to my father, but he ended up having a nervous breakdown and retiring from teaching in his mid 40s! sad

Definitely encourage him to leave before it's too late. Relocating actually sounds like a great idea.

After spending some time in a psychiatric hospital, my father eventually retrained and changed careers, but it left him broken and he never really regained his self-confidence after that and didn't seek any promotion or take on any responsibilities in his new job, preferring to keep a low profile and avoid any pressure.

This thread has dredged up some horrible memories of that time for me. OP, I feel for you and sincerely wish your husband all the best and hope he can find a much pleasanter position elsewhere before he burns out in this toxic environment!

crimsonlake Wed 07-Feb-18 21:45:51

I would post this on the TES website, you will get very good advice there from people who have been through the same thing. Sounds like the head wants your husband out I am afraid.

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