Back to work thoughts of a ‘failing’ teacher. 

It’s been twelve days since I found out I am going to be put through the capability process and ten days since I was signed off sick. I should say I didn’t give my HT the chance to explain the procedure but having seen other colleagues go through it, I’m assuming I’ll get a period of ‘informal support’ before officially being placed on capability. 

Being 55 in July, I’ve pretty much decided to take early retirement and cover my bills by doing supply work from September. 

However I just don’t know if I can continue teaching the next fourteen weeks in a school where the SLT consider me to be failing. Being told I am holding back children’s progress is killing me. Partly because I don’t think it’s true but mostly because what if is it true? In 6 months I’ve gone from being ‘good’ to failing. How can that be? How can I be getting it so wrong? 

I’m due back to work tomorrow and for the first time since my NQT year, I don’t know if I can teach well enough. 

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14 thoughts on “Back to work thoughts of a ‘failing’ teacher. 

  1. julietgreen

    I wonder what that even means -‘teach well enough’. Whose criteria and by what yardstick? Given the impossibility of making reliable judgements based on performance observations, how appropriate is it to bring this to bear on a teacher and tell them that they are failing? It’s not the way I would deal with issues, but then I’m not senior management. I have seen what I would consider bad teaching but it’s usually boiled down to a combination of arrogance and poor subject knowledge. I’ve also seen dedicated teachers become increasingly deskilled by hyper scrutiny and a negative attitude from school ‘leaders’. This usually results in an older, more experienced teacher leaving, thus making way for someone younger and, more importantly, less expensive.

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  2. Claire

    i myself have gone from being a ‘good /outstanding’ teacher to a ‘satisfactory’ within the last school year and my school
    are now in a consultation period ready to start redundancies. I am worried I am about to lose my job – a job I love.

    I don’t quite understand the feedback I am being given after my observations and the workload I have been given to improve my teaching is sizeable. I feel ready to give up
    And after a bad observation on Friday I feel
    As if I have just signed my own death warrant.

    I imagine capability will be my heads next play – which will make the redundancy conversations much easier i would imagine.

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  3. Nigel Anthony May

    If you are in a union – especially the NUT – support should be available. Having just completed their training course on ‘Grievance & Disciplinary Procedures’ it is absolutely no surprise that yet another woman in her 50s is targeted (premeditated and quite deliberate, I suspect). The common experience is in comes new young-ish Head – money needs to be saved and/or there is some deep-seated insecurity about older members of staff who might know more than them, and this is what results – time and time again.

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  4. S'me

    It is personal, Jayne, whatever they say. It is ridiculous to suggest that you can go from ‘good’ (whatever that is) to capability in such a short time! They have their own agenda. You must stay strong and believe in yourself. Easy to say and very hard to do but I am talking from experience. Last HT decided I needed ‘support’ (had been ‘outstanding’ – whatever that is!) before. I resigned fairly swiftly but not before considerable mental damage had been done. Am now in a school where I am considered one of the strongest teachers and where our HTs (we have a few!) always bring visitors to my class to show what they say is the ‘best’. It’s subjective nonsense and, although I am glad they recognise my skills, I am all too aware that if, for some sudden reason, my face no longer fits, I can easily become ‘inadequate’ and on capability. The whole system is fatally flawed. I really feel for your current situation and hope for a positive outcome for you xxx

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  5. Biff C

    I think you know in your heart that you haven’t gone from being a good teacher over many years to being one whose practice requires improvement, in the last six months. I think you also understand what really ‘underpins’ this sudden change of status. You can go back, and teach as you have always done, or you can endeavour to jump through the hoops that the senior staff will hold, unsteadily, occasionally moving them further away or upwards or sideways. But if you feel that the process will take a very heavy toll on you, then you shouldn’t feel in any way obliged to continue. You’ve given blood, already. But if you feel really feisty, you could challenge anything that you regard as either inaccurate or unfair, through your union and if necessary in a grievance procedure. This sort of stuff is wrong; if anyone who has the strength can challenge it, they should.

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  6. apulinacrafts

    I’ve been through this process. My teaching didn’t change (for the worse!) and yet suddenly it wasn’t good enough. I was signed off and two years later am still recovering. In retrospect I realise that I was strategically bullied out so a management favourite could go from PT to FT teaching. Know that you are not alone and that it is not your fault! NUT were brilliant in supporting me, so good to have someone on side. Best wishes to you.

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  7. Clare

    They tried this on me – it is a common problem faced by women teachers in their 50’s – get your union rep involved and you could try to get your union to sue them under age discrimination – if you are on any sort of medication or treatment for stress you are protected under the disability discrimination act – get your human resources department to refer you for a medical – that helps build up support – the medical advisor will recommend reasonable adjustments to your work – if you have strong union support and a good human resources department they might back off for a while – I managed to hang on for a few years which helped me build up my pension – otherwise you could retire on grounds of ill health – I retired a year early and now work 9 months a year to top up my pension, and work as a volunteer teacher in the developing world – the supply pay is rubbish, but I have freedom to enjoy teaching and get to work in the caribbean for 3 months of the year in a horrendously deprived country – love my life big time – dont let the *@#*!!!’s get you down – you know that you are a good teacher – but the vultures are congregating and looking for a reason to get rid of you and get in younger, more impressionable teachers who will jump when they say jump and use green/purple pens when they put in a new marking policy (and maybe put a broom where the sun dont shine while they are at it so they can save on cleaning staff……) and remember that way they buy one get one free – aka bog off ………. again, good luck – and remember there are plenty of years ahead of you so plan your strategies for survival carefully with your union rep, your counsellor, and your GP (I found fitness classes helped to keep my endomorphin levels up) and also plan your exit strategy – best wishes! Clare

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    1. jayneteach Post author

      Thank you for your comment. I’ve been overwhelmed by the support of colleagues and so saddened by how many good people are being lost to teaching. Glad that there is possible avenues to keep teaching. Good luck to you.

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      1. Clare

        It is not the career we joined all those years ago full of idealism and enthusiasm, but your ideals will lead you to new adventures in teaching – I did an intensive TEFL course which helped me when I started teaching in the developing world – initially I was thinking of teaching in a different continent every year, but now I stick to teaching in Central America because I am not exactly a linguist! good luck and don’t let your love of teaching get swamped by all the rubbish – it’s discrimination and evil, and you are a good teacher – it’s just that teachng in the UK has become a case of grooming children to pass tests and jumping through hoops….. good luck to you too!

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