What keeps me awake at night

30th January 2015 at 00:00
One bad reference has torn my career to shreds

Under the threat of redundancy and having recently relocated, I was pleased to secure a job as a part-time specialist primary teacher in an inclusive provision for children with autism. But after two terms in post, I found myself in conflict about the way the provision was managed.

I needed a job where I had my own class base. I also needed to address my work-life balance. The headteacher agreed to give me a reference so I could move on to a new school.

I applied for another part-time post, this time as a specialist teacher in an assessment unit attached to a mainstream school, working with children who had a range of conditions including autism. I was shortlisted and attended an interview, which seemed to go well.

When I received feedback from the headteacher, however, she said that she regretted not being able to appoint me because of my first reference - the one written by my school leader. The second reference, written by my immediate manager, was very positive and my teaching had been assessed as good with some outstanding features.

I was devastated and contacted my union immediately. I naively expected a meeting to be set up with the headteacher, where he would be made to justify his scathing reference.

Unfortunately, the branch that dealt with me was short-staffed and overworked, and arranging such a meeting proved impossible.

It was a battle just to get the representative to write a letter to the headteacher stating that he was not to provide any further references for me.

With no support from the union, I felt hopelessly let down and had no choice but to resign.

We read about teachers' workload pressures but spare a moment's thought for the workload of your union officer. If mine had not been so overworked, perhaps I would still be teaching.

The writer is an ex-primary teacher

Tell us what keeps you awake at night

Email jon.severs@tesglobal.com

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