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No care for heads in 'capability'

Having read your article "Heads need more HR help" (TES Cymru, October 24), I felt the familiar swell of disappointment and isolation I have been experiencing since I began the capability procedure with a member of my teaching staff four years ago: 12 months of sickness absence; numerous occupational health appointments; three phased returns; and more than 15 unsatisfactory lesson observations - all carefully documented to provide a tome of evidence.

You might well ask what has taken so long? First, a local authority procedure drafted by human resources that is difficult to interpret and lacks detail - so much that HR staff struggle to put it into practice, despite the fact that I have worked with five officers, four of whom have now left the department.

Second, a teachers' union that hijacked the procedure and has tried to run the show. I have come to realise that its sole purpose is to ensure that its member remains on the payroll for as long as possible, irrespective of the negative impact on the lives of the children.

As for the head, who has to negotiate the internal workings of the local education authority's HR department, and who has become the sworn enemy of the union in question, there is no support. In my case, there is the dubious accolade that I am "maybe" the first head in Newport to take the process to its conclusion. Whoopee.

When I asked the HR department last year who was interested in my wellbeing, I was told that its role was to serve the best interests of the local authority. So I turned to a very supportive group of advisers, who were then told to stop "meddling". Where next?

Four years after starting the procedure, and being no further on than I was this time last year, I now whisper to myself, "How about me?"

Name and address supplied, Primary headteacher, Newport, South Wales.

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