June 2018

Features

  • Back to the future
    Geoff Barton says it's important we look to the future of education but in doing so, we mustn't ignore the significant challenges we face at present. More
  • Smarter learning
    Artificial intelligence (AI) has the power to transform learning by drawing on a range of data to pinpoint each child's specific learning needs as they work. Education needs to embrace it, says CEO of a school improvement platform Priya Lakhani OBE. More
  • A step in the right direction
    ASCL has campaigned for fair education funding for over 30 years. Here, former President Peter Downes highlights key moments from our quest and says, although the proposed new formula isn't perfect, ASCL and its members can be proud that the principle for which it has campaigned has been accepted. More
  • Keep your head
    One ASCL member shares his experience of going through the redundancy process and says he can't speak highly enough of the help he was given by ASCL when he needed it most. More
  • Is the grass greener?
    Why are so many teachers leaving the profession? Jack Worth, Senior Economist at the National Foundation for Educational Research (NFER), looks at the latest research. More
  • Changing the narrative
    ASCL PD Associate, Carly Waterman, explains how collaboration could help change the narrative of the recruitment and retention problem in schools and colleges. More
Bookmark and Share

One ASCL member shares his experience of going through the redundancy process and says he canít speak highly enough of the help he was given by ASCL when he needed it most.

Keep your head

The lack of sufficient funding is forcing schools and colleges to constantly focus their thoughts on staffing and finance, and how they can continue to operate from one year to the next. Similarly, last year, my school issued a consultation in which a number of posts including my (SLT) one were declared surplus to requirements and unaffordable in budgetary terms. I wonít be identifying the school, but I hope the rest of this piece will help anyone who goes through a similar situation to mine.

Whether you are a senior leader or a classroom teacher, I would like to pass on these pieces of advice:

Keep a record of every meeting you have with those who are making you redundant: The duty is on them to give you information and justify their decision. Donít be afraid to challenge them on any decision they have made.

Get help from your union: I canít speak too highly of the help I was given by ASCL, not just with the redundancy, but with CV and application writing as well. My case worker was excellent, from the first contact through to the legal advice that was required and the signing of the settlement agreement.

Get your personal and/or family finances in order: Unless you are very lucky, you will have less money after the process. If you need to have difficult conversations with family and/ or financial institutions, do them sooner rather than later.

Use online redundancy calculators with caution: They canít give you an exact figure, so it is vital that you make sure your employer and your union calculate it carefully. Donít sign or accept any settlement until your union has checked it out.

Talk to someone outside your school about how you feel: You will go through a gamut of emotions, and no matter how many times you are told, ďItís not you, itís the position thatís being made redundant,Ē you will feel angry and you will need to vent. Talk to your GP, and if you need to, ask to be referred to a counsellor Ė I did and it was time well spent.

Understand the implications of redundancy payments: The Redundancy Payments (Continuity of Employment in Local Government etc.) (Modification) Order 1999 sets a condition that if you accept redundancy, there has to be a break of one monthís service before you can take another teaching post, or you will have to repay your redundancy settlement back. This is challenging for teachers as generally we are made redundant as of 31 August, and with new contracts starting on 1 September, it seems that we are unfairly penalised. Despite what you may read online and elsewhere, this does seem to apply to local authority maintained schools, academies and free schools but you have to ask each institution if they are bound by its terms, should you wish to apply. (It does not apply to independent schools.)

Keep your head at school: The students still need you and, despite very low levels of motivation, you still have a job to do. Colleaguesí reactions will vary; many will be thinking, ďThere but for the grace of God...Ē, while others will distance themselves from you lest they catch redundancy, and some will weep bitter tears in your office, raging at the injustice of it all. None of this will be a comfort, but a Zen-like calm in dealing with them works well, despite how you feel inside.

Next steps

Even if you get all of the above sorted, there still remains a huge challenge: what are you going to do with the rest of your life? I sent a blizzard of applications for roles equal to the one from which I was being made redundant. I had one interview. I was up against a number of strong internal candidates Ė and, strangely enough, I wasnít invited back for day two. As for the rest of my applications, the best I can say is that approximately one-third of schools retain enough basic good manners to write or email to thank you for your application.

So, I cast my net wider. Calculations and conversations with my partner as to whether working abroad, specifically in the Middle East, was a good idea Ė for us it wasnít. Applications to educational charities then ensued, but at interview, seeing my 1960s date of birth highlighted told me all I needed to know and thus that avenue closed.

I then contacted teaching agencies. Many seemed surprised when I told them that a post teaching primary wasnít really what I was qualified for and that I also didnít fancy a 50-mile commute either. In the end, I had to change my mobile number to stop them from calling. The emails still keep coming though.

The story does have a happy ending. I was able to secure a job as a classroom teacher in a different setting and actually the effect this has had on my personal life has been transformative, despite the financial challenges it has brought on.

Be resilient

While trying to secure future employment, I was still working through my notice period at the school. What then followed was one of the most surreal half-terms I have ever seen. I was a strangely semi-detached member of SLT and very grateful that I was allowed to absent myself from any meetings discussing the way forward. This was particularly useful as it soon became clear that for many middle leaders, the schoolís plans made very little sense. Suddenly, I was in great demand as a reference for younger colleagues, and an agony aunt for older ones.

Finally, the last day of term arrived. I did consider going out in a blaze of glory but in the end decided it just wasnít worth it, said my goodbyes and drove out of the gate within 30 minutes of the last student leaving. I did enjoy my time on SLT and appreciate that it was a decision forced upon the school by external pressures.

Among the many messages I received from staff, students and parents, there was not so much as a card from any of the governors to thank me for my efforts.

I appreciate that every case is different, and that redundancy is a word that is a cruel and harsh one to hear. My experience shows that there is a way through, but it will test your resilience to its maximum. The support from ASCL was invaluable and I couldnít have got through a difficult time without it.

Name and details supplied.


I canít speak too highly of the help I was given by ASCL , not just with the redundancy, but with CV and application writing as well. My case worker was excellent, from the first contact through to the legal advice that was required and the signing of the settlement agreement.


Weíre here to help you

If you need any help or advice, call the ASCL Hotline on 0116 299 1122 or email hotline@ascl.org.uk

ASCL Hotline

Key figures from 1 January Ė 31 December 2017

  • The Hotline dealt with 6,904 enquiries from members.
  • Thatís 30-40 calls a day on average during term time.
  • Restructuring, and discipline and capability were the top topics for calls from members.
  • 1,304 members were supported for ongoing individual professional issues
keep-your-head.jpg

LEADING READING