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to just call in sick?

43 replies

PuddingJacker · 11/05/2021 19:50

I'm a trainee teacher at the moment. I'm supposed to do 8-12 hour each week of actual teaching across the four days that I am at school (we have university for the PGCE one day each week). Up until a few weeks ago, I got on really well with my mentor and everything was going really well. We have our meetings on Monday and everything was fine. Then, on Tuesday, she said we needed to talk so we set up a meeting so set one up for Wednesday. She said she'd heard really good things about me from my other qualified teachers but she couldn't see anything good about my teaching. I had my school active training session that afternoon and the lead came to me and said my mentor had complained multiple times that I don't know the names of one of my classes (I'd taught this class once, for one hour and learnt around 6/30 names - but this had been hindered because the systems had been down and I couldn't access the registers or seating plans for the class). I thought it was unreasonably harsh to complain multiple times that I didn't know their names when I'd only taught them one time (so, since the first complaint, had no further opportunity to learn them or demonstrate I knew them).
Since that day, I've had no positive feedback from my mentor but my feedback from my other teachers has all been really positive. My mentor undermines me in my lessons - in one lesson I sent a student out for punching another student and she said it was fine and brought him back in. She's also started bringing me into lessons that she can't control that aren't my timetabled classes. So, this week, I did 13 hours of actual teaching plus four hours assisting her with classes she can't control. That only leaves me with 3 planning hours when I'm supposed to have 10.
Another problem is that, as a trainee, I'm not given a laptop or computer at my school. I take my own laptop but for security reasons they won't let me onto the school wifi, so I hotspot off my phone. I can't hotspot off my phone anywhere in the school because the school has phone signal blockers installed (to stop the kids using their phones) and so I can't even check my work emails whilst I'm at work or plan any lessons. So, I have to do all my planning and everything after I get home.
Today I had a meeting with my mentor and she said that I don't have any friends in the department and no one gets on with me - which I really struggle to believe because there's a solid group of around six of us (all the same age-ish) in my department and we get together and chat and message outside of work. We have in-jokes and I spent a lot of time before work and breaks and lunchtimes etc talking. The other four members of the department (including my mentor) all have senior roles in the school so they have offices and don't hang out in the department staffroom (but I have pleasant conversations with them in the corridor etc). There haven't been any issues with anyone. When I mentioned to a couple of other people in the department what she said they suggested it might have been a joke or I completely misunderstood what she was saying because it's so untrue - but I definitely know exactly what she said. My mentor has said I need to wait in school until two hours after school finishes each day in the department staffroom so I can "make friends" with the other people who stay behind. Today, I waited and the only person there was my friend in the department who stayed to console me about what my mentor had said. She left half an hour after school finished so I sat, on my own, without internet access, for an hour and half.
This afternoon, I had a lesson that my mentor was observing and she tore me to shreds in her feedback. She criticised me for not having a powerpoint (because the classroom computer crashed and I couldn't put the powerpoint up), for not having the seating plan set up correctly (because there had been timetable changes no one told me about so a bunch of new kids turned up to my class without me being told) and for not having provided work to a student who went to the support centre instead of coming to class (because I didn't know she'd decide to go to the support centre instead of coming to class - because I'm not psychic).
Tomorrow, I'm teaching all five hours, only one of them is being observed by my mentor. But I know she's going to rip it to shreds and there's nothing that I can do about it. AIBU to just call in sick?

(Before I get jumped on for how few hours this is, these are just the teaching hours as a trainee. It doesn't include the time for doing form time, meetings, training sessions, observations, marking, planning, creating assessments, providing feedback, doing my academic assessments, duties, cover lessons etc).

OP posts:

Am I being unreasonable?


You have one vote. All votes are anonymous.

KizzyMoo · 11/05/2021 19:55

Sounds like she is bullying you. Like she is picking on you. You basically got a detention having to stay late. Being told no one likes you?! Wow. That is nasty. Who do you complain to?


Orangeinmybluelightcup · 11/05/2021 19:58

Don't call in sick, complain.


cravingpistachiocake · 11/05/2021 19:59

I don’t think it’s a bad idea to call in sick, this whole thing seems like a farce. Do you have any idea what could have made her take against you so much? Is there any chance there has been a misunderstanding somewhere that’s put her back up?

Regardless, she’s bullying you and it’s unacceptable. You need to work out who you can escalate this to. She’s clearly being awful to you, and the school isn’t helping at all by failing to provide you with essential equipment they’re setting you up to fail.

I would go off sick, escalate to your tutor or whoever else seems appropriate, and make copies of any texts or emails showing evidence of her treatment of you.


SandysMam · 11/05/2021 20:02

Oh my God it’s no wonder teachers are leaving in their droves if this is the kind of toxic behaviour in schools! It definitely sounds like bullying, made worse by the fact you can’t actually get your work done without internet access. If there is anyone to complain to, you should complain for sure!


LividJabber · 11/05/2021 20:03

You need to speak to your PGCE tutor.

Don’t you have anybody other than your mentor in school who supervises trainees?


Usernamesarenotmyforte · 11/05/2021 20:04

I second complaining. I had a bully for a mentor and kept my head down. I regret that now, I was worried about how it would reflect on me but I shouldn’t have been. I’m also not sure how your training provider can consider the situation over access to school systems acceptable. I would definitely flag that up. Ultimately, I am assuming you are probably paying for this training. Are you actually getting any value for your money? I should add, my mentor was a wanker but even he wasn’t as bad as you are describing.


Usernamesarenotmyforte · 11/05/2021 20:05

More practically to help in this situation, call in sick to the school. Then set up a meeting with your course tutor. Demand it for tomorrow and point out you are considering whether you need to put in a complaint about the course itself. It is their job to be monitoring the suitability of their placement schools.


RuLu · 11/05/2021 20:05

What a nightmare for you. Do you have a professional mentor/someone who oversees all trainees? Speak to them or your university tutor. I'm so sorry you're having a crappy time.


PerpendicularVincent · 11/05/2021 20:05

I wouldn't call in sick but I would make a list of everything you've put in your OP and request and urgent meeting with your tutor tomorrow - you're being bullied. Are you able to request a new mentor?


joysexrenovated · 11/05/2021 20:06

Start recording all of these things and make a complaint about her.


gingerbiscuits · 11/05/2021 20:07

Good God, you poor thing - that sounds hideous! Reading it, I felt very upset & angry on your behalf! Being a Trainee Teacher is bloody hard work without someone who is supposed to be supporting you, bullying you instead - because that's definitely what they're doing.

I'm a Teaching Partner in a Primary School & we regularly have TTs & NQTs and we would NEVER treat them like that.

Is there anyone you can talk to at the school for some advice? You definitely need to speak to your course tutor - compile a record of everything you've listed here & whatever else there is.

Making you feel like you have no option but to call in sick is dreadful. This person cannot be allowed to damage your career, self esteem & confidence like this. Even IF there were areas for improvement, there are ways & means to SUPPORT you respectfully through them.

Good luck. Hang in there - there are other placements & MUCH better mentors out there.


Jecstar · 11/05/2021 20:07

Who is the member of staff in your school who oversees the placement of PCGE students?
Email them and ask to meet with them as soon as they are available tomorrow. Outline what you have said in this post. They will want to know and will be able to help.

I am the ITTCO in my school and I would absolutely want to know about these issues to find a resolution to them. I wouldn’t even mind if a student arrived at my door first thing tomorrow to raise this. Please speak to someone about this, whether that is the ITTCO or your university tutor.


Scarby9 · 11/05/2021 20:08

Contact your university tutor, or the lead ITT mentor in your school - whoever is above your own mentor in the hierarchy and whom you feel you can talk to.
Tell them you do not believe you are being fairly treated. Try to be factual - 'They said X when Y is actually the case'.
In the interim, document.
Email your mentor after a meeting, saying 'To confirm, you said X. I told you Y'
Ask them to document their suggestions and next steps to you eg. staying 2hrs after school to socialise.
This is not right, OP, and you need to make sure other people, whi should be able to step up to help, know the situation.


PuddingJacker · 11/05/2021 20:10

Thanks everyone for commenting. I'm not sure it's bullying because I don't think she means to upset me. She genuinely seems to have my best interests at heart and is concerned about all these things - but I feel like she's completely naive to the fact that I'm not psychic, can't magically fix technical problems and that just because she doesn't see something, it doesn't mean it's not happening.
I have a lead at my school who is above my mentor but I've only spoken to her a few times and I get the impression she's heard bad things about me so doesn't like me too much. I have a university tutor but he's rubbish - none of us on the course have heard from him all year, he never responds to anything. I know a few people on my course have had issues and they've just been asked to leave the course. One girl in our course group chat complained about her mentor making a racist comment about her and she was told to leave the course.

OP posts:

D1sc02000 · 11/05/2021 20:14

Contact your university tutor now, explain everything and ask university to arrange a meeting with the school ITT mentor together with your uni tutor. Your university should back you. Tell your tutor you can’t face going in tomorrow and what your mentor has done to make you feel this way and do what they advise you to do.

I’d try to approach this from the stance of wanting to repair the working relationship, even if you don’t actually want that.


CHISistoast · 11/05/2021 20:19

Definitely talk to your university tutor. And I would never normally say this but yeah, call in sick tomorrow. It sounds like she is aware of her own ability or lack thereof (you teaching her classes, her letting the punching students back in, probably to ingratiate herself). But I would speak to her too, maybe with your tutor present, and ask why her feedback differs to that of her colleagues? What could that say about her and her teaching? But put less clumsily. I have twice left teaching for Industry, there are some fabulous teachers and there are some who do the profession a disservice.

You probably don't have long left in this school? You could ride it out and tell your tutor about the difference in feedback. But your tutor will know how you're doing.

Sorry, jumbled, good luck and don't be afraid to stand up for yourself.


Merryoldgoat · 11/05/2021 20:20

You need to complain. Get in the habit standing up for yourself from now.

She’s a nasty bully and it’s time she was dealt with. You won’t be the only person she’s done this to.


Embroideredstars · 11/05/2021 20:22

You need a new "mentor" I put the "" in as it doesn't seem she is being a good one. Arrange a meeting with the uni tutor.

What is she on about "making friends" for 2 hours after school?! Fuck that, you have a life, you may have other commitments like doing your lesson plans with proper WiFi at home!

You can like and respect your colleagues your don't have to be "friends" with them you aren't a child and she can't make you stay. If you feel you get on well with your colleagues that is enough.

Sounds like she is trying to undermine your confidence. Is she jealous that other teachers said you were doing well? I agree she was unreasonable to complain you hadn't learnt names one lesson.


Embroideredstars · 11/05/2021 20:25

Sounds like a rubbish course too!!

Useless tutor and the only answer to problems is to tell people to leave, dreadful. Complain to the university too


Waveafterwaveslowlydrifting · 11/05/2021 20:28

Experienced teacher here. Phone your pgce link tutor ASAP. Report. Keep short and factual notes of what's going on.


Jecstar · 11/05/2021 20:28

I hear what your saying about the uni tutor and the more senior colleague in school but if I was you I would do the following:

  1. Email your university tutor and ask to meet urgently to raise these issues. If you don’t hear from them in the next 48 hours escalate to the course director with evidence you’ve tried to make contact.

2. Ask for a meeting with the senior colleague in school. It doesn’t matter what impression you think she may have of you you must give the school an opportunity to deal with this. You mentioned that you get in well with some other colleagues ask them if they will support you in attending the meeting or escalating the issue in school further. (i.e my line manager is a member of slt so any grievances against me would be acted on by her).

Do everything via email so you have a record.

imsoinmyhead · 11/05/2021 20:32

I think I'd leave permanently to be honest! This isn't going to get any better. You also need to complain to the university if the course tutor has gone awol. Presumably you're paying for this PGCE? Your university must have some kind of student satisfaction department. Complain loudly!


ZAUK · 11/05/2021 20:32

Another experienced teacher. That school sounds absolutely horrendous. Please explain your problems to your training provider. I would never treat any trainee or member of staff like this.


84wood · 11/05/2021 20:37

Have you got a job?

Your second place is nearly done. Just get through it with a pass.

It’s horrible but until you get NQT you have to jump through hoops. But then again jumping through hoops seems to be a thing with teaching! 😂

Good luck


woofgoesthecat · 11/05/2021 20:37

Do not call in sick. You will probably feel even worse. Just go and do your best, stand up for yourself. You know it’s not you. Your poor thing, it sounds shit.

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