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School Secretary Dreading Return to School

(61 Posts)
bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 21:07:24

Hi all

I work as a PT school secretary and am absolutely dreading going back to work next week.

My colleague who was also in the school office left last October and they did find a replacement but the replacement was not employed for as many hours as previous colleague.

The workload since then has been completely untenable, I am PT but work many, many hours unpaid overtime. I find the stress and responsibility levels really high for the pay rate.

At the end of the last school year the HT and my office colleague left.

I am stressed by the workload, and will undoubtedly make a catastrophic mistake at some point as theres not enough time. I check work emails from home, wake in the middle of the might worrying about things.

Drove past the school the other day and my stomach turned over. I dont think that's normal... we could survive on my OH salary but wouldn't have any niceties.

I totally appreciate having a term time only job as I have young children, everyone thinks my job is really cushy, maybe u just need to pull myself together!

I am seriously debating whether to just quit and retrain. Have been job seeking for months but can never find anything remotely suitable. Have applied for a few but hear nothing back,except one interview which I did not get.

Sorry for the whinge, just need a sounding burglars I think.

Many thanks to anyone who has taken the time to read this!

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bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 21:09:19

Excuse typos,especially sounding burglar 😂 meant sounding board

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Rockbird Wed 28-Aug-19 21:14:29

Oh God, I start next week as a school secretary... 😱

Rapidmama Wed 28-Aug-19 21:15:27

What would happen if you left on time? Worked to rule?

bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 21:36:46

Rock bird, I'm sure its not the same everywhere, the last thing I wanted to so was worry anyone else!

Rapidmama, things wouldn't get done on time/at all, the work would stockpile, deadlines would be missed, people wouldn't be paid overtime on time, census would not be done on time, SAT results would not be sent to gvt on time, the list goes on unfortunately ☹

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Boyskeepswinging Wed 28-Aug-19 21:39:25

You need to speak to your line manager about this.

Herocomplex Wed 28-Aug-19 21:41:42

You have my massive sympathies. I’ve seen at first hand how hard it is, Maybe the new HT will make changes?

bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 21:42:52

Hiya previous head was aware but cannot (will not?) get approval for funding to increase the hours. We have a new head starting in September..

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bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 21:45:14

Hero, I hope so that would be great. Lots of turn over of staff atm as well so it's a but crazy all round

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Herocomplex Wed 28-Aug-19 21:47:44

It’s very easy to fall into the trap of doing work you’re not paid for because you feel responsible and guilty if you don’t. However it’s not sustainable and it’s up to the school management/governing body to organise work loads and staff. So much is done on goodwill and it’s not fair.

Herocomplex Wed 28-Aug-19 21:49:08

I bet you never take a lunch break, do you?

CookieDoughKid Wed 28-Aug-19 21:52:28

Well then let deadlines be missed and let people not get paid. Let them bring attention to the problem. Its not your responsibility to sort out this issue. You are a secretary fgs!! Not demeaning your role but you are enabling the situation.

ZiggyB Wed 28-Aug-19 21:55:03

You must talk yo your line manager about what’s happening and how you feel. Give them a chance to do something. You’ll feel better for talking about it at least.

And if it doesn’t get resolved are there other similar jobs in your area?

Elieza Wed 28-Aug-19 21:58:51

Your line manager would presumably be aware of the issues you face and will be invited to meet with the head as part of the introductions? If so, he/she and can bring the new head up to speed with the situation since your colleague was replaced by a part timer with no reduction in workload or expectations.
Remind your line manager that you are stressed and exhausted, afraid of making mistakes etc. Everything you feel and that you are only part time and cannot be expected to continue doing unpaid overtime.
Contact your union for advice. This is probably happening all over the place as budgets are cut, but staff should never have to work for free.
It could be that expectations will have to be changed and that would solve the problem. But whatever happens you should not work for free. If the situation doesn’t improve you could ask your line manager what to prioritise and explain that you will no longer be able to work late so some things will not be getting done. Which would she prefer you to focus on etc.

h0rsewithn0name Wed 28-Aug-19 22:00:58

Sympathies from a fellow SBM. The workload is ridiculous and as the school cuts back more and more on support staff, the extra work just comes our way.

I have no advice, apart from one strategy I have learnt. When a member of the SLT ask me to do something urgently, I show them my three targets for the day and ask them which I should drop.

If your new Head isn't able to find money in the budget for significant additional hours, could you ask for a low level administrator for one hour a day, first thing. Just someone who can answer the phone, look for lost property, answer questions etc?

I've spent most of today going down the emails. It's going to take weeks!

bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 22:02:08

Thanks for the replies. Hero, you have nailed it you are absolutely right. And no, I never take a lunch break. Dont go to the loo till I'm about to wet myself 😂 Cookie, Ziggy yes you are right too, I will talk to the new head. I am definitely too much of a pushover / people pleaser and worry people will think I am stupid or inefficient if I dont get things done, when in reality it is impossible in the hours I am paid for

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MyBlueMoonbeam Wed 28-Aug-19 22:05:24

I feel your pain - nearly had a breakdown when I was a school secretary - nowhere near enough hours to do all that was expected 😖

bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 22:06:30

Thank you Eliza and Horse good ideas from you both. For clarification, my line manager is the HT so would be straight to her with my issues. Showing daily targets to SLT is a good idea, as is finding someone else to deal with the immediate reactive stuff

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bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 22:07:36

Bluemoonbeam, yes. It's a much touugher job that people realise, especially with all the budget cuts ☹

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Rhinosaurus Wed 28-Aug-19 22:08:07

You must not work over in your own time, you won’t get any thanks for it and whilst you are filling in a service gap for them the line management have no need to worry as tasks are getting done so there is no issue. If you prioritise tasks and work to your hours ensuring the most important things are completed, and then bring to their attention a list of tasks you have not been able to fit in they are then holding that accountability and need to work out how they will get done. At first they may ignore but it won’t be long before a backlog starts to build up and things are not getting done.
As a nurse I now do this - I used to work through breaks, work late, go in early for no extra money. After a period of feeling really stressed I decided that my time was precious and they wouldn’t pay me for not working, so why should I work and not get paid? Once management realise deadlines can’t be met without being subsidised by good will they will have to look at getting some extra help, or delegating some of the tasks elsewhere. It’s hard, but stand firm - we work to live, not live to work flowers

DelphiniumBlue Wed 28-Aug-19 22:12:45

Things might be different with new head, and it will be a good time to put boundaries in place. So if you have too much to do, you say that you can't do it all in the available time, and what do they want you to prioritize? You may have to keep repeating this. You might also add that you regularly do x hours over and above your normal hours, unpaid,and you are going to have to limit that to no more than xx hours per week. If it is a crisis ( e.g. Ofsted) obviously you will do your best to help but that it is no longer possible for you to do it on a regular basis.
Sounds like you are doing the work of the Business Manager for a secretary's wages. The tasks you refer to, such as filing returns, are the head's responsibility. If you flag up that you don't have time to meet the deadline, the head will have to deal with it themselves, or redistribute some of your work so that you can focus on the most pressing tasks.
It's really hard in schools right now, but you are not being paid for some of the responsibilities you discuss.The head is paid for that.

ZiggyB Wed 28-Aug-19 22:13:34

Good luck OP, hope you get it sorted quickly. It’s a poor state of affairs and it’s happening in a lot of places sadly.

bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 22:17:33

Thank you Rhino and Delphinium.

Delphinium, thank you for your good advice. I am fascinated by the last part of your post, I hadn't actually realised that some of these things are not my responsibility ☹ my pay is absolutely shit as well so feeling somewhat exploited. Its disgusting how budget cuts are affecting schools

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bingandflop Wed 28-Aug-19 22:18:22

Thanks Ziggy

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Fairenuff Wed 28-Aug-19 22:20:12

Why would you work for nothing. Just do what you can in your hours and leave the rest. What is the worst that will happen?

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