Case Study: After 27 years, I was knocked, battered & bruised.

“The light shines in the darkness and the darkness cannot overcome it”

Events in our professional lives may trip us up, or even stop us in our tracks – but we are stronger than we think.  When this happened to me after twenty-seven years of an eventful and positive career in education, I was knocked, battered and bruised.  I was not sure whether I would remain in the profession.

 Having led the school through its first Ofsted inspection I was feeling extremely positive.  It had been a hard few years, but I had been working towards showing the world just how amazing the school community that we had created was!  We had done well, bearing in mind that less than four years ago the school and everything connected to it, did not exist! 

Twelve weeks from the publication of the Ofsted report, unbelievably, I was under investigation for gross misconduct that potentially could have led to my dismissal.  The speed at which it all happened was bewildering. How? Why? Where was the support?  

I felt alone, misunderstood and marginalised by colleagues that I had thought I was valued by/of, and utter confusion reigned. The investigation took place – way too slowly.  Union support was poor.  Line management support was non-existent. The result was punitive – effectively I could not leave to get another job and there were some internal competency targets needed to be met. Interestingly, the investigation did reveal that the organisation was culpable in some of the allegations, which made me question the validity of the investigation.  

As part of a multi-academy trust, isn’t this WHY trusts exist?  To support, help and promote good practice? A year after the investigation, I resigned from my post with no job to go to. I tried to secure a post but struggled because of the impact of the investigation. I was knocked, battered, bruised, bitter and traumatised. I still am – but everyday less so.

I have learned that:

  • Values are everything and sticking to them navigated me through the mess of emotions
  • Integrity carried me through and I am glad that I behaved the way I did throughout the process
  • Looking after people is the best employer attribute that anyone will remember when they leave
  • If an organisation cannot see your worth, don’t hang around or ‘beg’ them to see what they cannot see

 There’s a few things I think the system could learn from my experience:

  • Look after ALL staff.  No lip service – REALLY do it.  
  • Think carefully about how leaders are treated – otherwise they will walk away – either bitter or broken
  • School leaders need some external coaching support as a mandatory part of the role and it should be put in place as soon as someone gains a school leadership post

 

Working with others and being of value is still my overriding desire – but I now do it on my terms! I support others who lead school communities to enable the best for the children and young people that they serve.  I have re-trained and now offer my newly found skills to others.   I have a great work-life balance and less money – but I have peace.  Priceless.