Bad reference from a teacher

(21 Posts)
Meerk Fri 27-Jun-14 10:09:41

Hello all,

My son is changing schools and the school he was going to asked for a reference. This was supplied by his current teacher and was quite fair and balanced. However the new school subsequently rang the school and by chance to the teacher concerned. She gave a very different, malicious verbal reference that painted a very different picture of both my son and us as parents that resulted in the school he was to go to withdrawing their offer. I have now managed to get this sorted with the new school by bringing in the current Head and the previous Head to provide a reference and by meeting with the new school and they are going to offer him a place and have noted the 'duplicitous' reference received (their words).

However, the damage has been done. We feel we cannot send him to the new school as he is now 'tainted' as a troublemaker and with the best will in the world I cannot guarantee my seven year old will be perfectly behaved but I feel nonetheless they will be watching him like hawks. We had intended a change of area, had put an offer in on a house and it had been accepted, arranged a mortgage and my wife had resigned from her job.

The result is that to support him we now feel we have to stay in the area for at least a year and everything has fallen through.

We were lucky in that the receiving school took a transcript of the verbal reference and have provided it to us. In it she makes uncorroborated accusations, plainly lies and misdirects and paints such a negative picture of us all I am not surprised the receiving school had reservations.

To put this all into context, I work in the receiving school and my wife still works in the original school, though not for long. She has caused personal grief to the whole family , caused us to lose a great deal of money through lost house-purchase costs, caused professional grief because she raised (wholly unfounded) safeguarding concerns against both parents and commented on things which she has no knowledge of or expertise in and which is was wholly inappropriate to do so anyway. This all stems I think from disciplinary action taken against the teacher by the previous head and my wife being called in to be involved.

How to proceed? I think a formal complaint is the route I would normally take but the school is actually a fantastic school and a formal complaint would have to be revealed to ISI/Ofsted and I don't want the school to suffer because of one individual.

Thoughts, good ideas, name of a good solicitor?

ReallyTired Fri 27-Jun-14 12:26:39

What a horrible situation your family has been put in.

If your son has been offered a place at the new school and you choose to take it up they will form their own opinons of him. Meerk since you work in the recieving school you know your collegues best, do you honestly believe that they would hold a malicous reference against a seven year old. What would you do if you were in a similar situation? Most teachers (in the state sector) I have worked with prefer to make their own judgments about children and their parents.

I feel you should discuss the matter with the current head of your son's school informally and ask them what action they are going to take against the teacher who made the malicious allegation? If the school are putting her through a displinary for making a false allegation then there would be no grounds for a formal complaint. The school has to follow employment law and allow the teacher proper union representation before sacking her for gross misconduct or giving her a formal warning.

Perhaps your best bet would be sue the teacher for deflamation of character of your son. The fact you have the transcript means you have evidence.

stargirl1701 Fri 27-Jun-14 12:30:51

I think you would need to get legal advice about this. It would probably mean taking the teacher to court.

Meerk Fri 27-Jun-14 16:09:55

Thank you both. We now intend to move him after a year as he really does not want to leave his current school and therefore it will likely take him some time to fit into his new school. Considering the new school went for 3-4 weeks thinking he was the Devil's child before they relented, I honestly don't think that is the best start for him as the slightest transgression might get them thinking they were right in the first place. We still need to address the issue of the teacher's totally inappropriate behaviour though...

tethersend Fri 27-Jun-14 16:16:22

Is this a state school?

I do hope not, as there are so many violations of the admissions code it's eye-watering.

Onesleeptillwembley Fri 27-Jun-14 16:16:36

You will need to go through the official route first. I would also take legal advice.
But to say she's cost you money is ridiculous, and makes you sound like you are overreacting, when from the rest of your tale, you don't seem to be. You need to face facts on that point.

Meerk Sat 28-Jun-14 09:01:47

Thanks Onesleep. She has cost us money as we had a plan that meant my wife was to stop work and as such she has provided notice an a replacement has been engaged, we move areas and we were to buy another house and have paid for mortgage and surveys etc, but it is very much our choice not to go ahead with the purchase so there is no way I would dream of trying to pin that on her. It was more of trying to explain the angst she has caused.
Thanks tethersend. It is an independant school. I think we may have had a bit more recourse if it was a state school.

CheeryName Sat 28-Jun-14 09:13:07

He's 7. The new school will be used to 7 year olds. It won't ruin his life if he makes a mistake while he's settling in.

Fwiw though it sounds like a terrible idea for your son to attend a school you teach in. You are wrapping him up in all the politics of a workplace.

Springcleanish Sat 28-Jun-14 09:24:56

Why do you think the receiving school would make pre-conceived judgements? Especially as you work there? I would have thought the teachers accusations would make you want him out of there sooner rather than later.
We receive secondary students on managed transfers at risk of PEX regularly - I know this isn't your situation, but if any kids are likely to be judged it's these. I can honestly say that whilst any bleak pictures are listened too, every child gets a bias free fresh start and the chance to make things right. They would never be judged for their past, and I am shocked that working in the school you feel teachers would do this. I would find a different school now, and neither of the two you've mentioned!

tiredandsadmum Sat 28-Jun-14 09:26:19

If you truly think that your school is the best school for him, then you must move him there. Stop messing your son around - he will pick up on your tension. Don't let this get in the way. Sorry, can you tell I am dealing with school selection at the moment (with a very difficult ex).

annebullin Sat 28-Jun-14 09:30:36

'Professionals' (so called) gossiping about children and their family over the phone! shock
Both schools come out of this very badly.
I agree with springcleanish - why would you want your ds to be in the care of either of these schools?

IsItFridayYetPlease Sat 28-Jun-14 12:09:21

Why did the new school feel the need to ring the old school? I usually only do that for a child I am concerned about or if the records flag something up.

Unexpected Sat 28-Jun-14 15:58:17

There's so much I'm confused about here. Why do you keep referring to the new school in the third party as if you had never had previous dealings with it, when, in fact, it is the school you teach at? Why were you moving your son when he didn't want to change school anyway? Where are you now going to send him to school in the coming year if you are not now moving him? Surely he can't stay at his existing school with such lies having been told about him and a possible formal complaint being raised?

I also think as a teacher at the school you must have a very poor opinion of your colleagues (and it reflects badly on you too) if you genuinely believe that a bad verbal reference - which contradicts the official, written reference - would cause your son to be "tainted" as a troublemaker. That's a very poor reflection on your own school. Also, if the reference raised safeguarding concerns against you as parents, surely your school is just as likely to now view you, a member of staff, with suspicion? Either they believe the reference or not, in which case, either both you and your son are not under suspicion or you both are? Why is it different for him as a 7 year old?

bamboostalks Sat 28-Jun-14 22:02:50

Appalling behaviour from both schools.

Luggagecarousel Sat 28-Jun-14 22:11:46

Obviously this is no reason not to move him, and none of this will make any difference to him at all.

obviously teachers are going to pass on information verbally; it is often the only way "real" data can be passed on, everything else in constrained by what can legally be said or not.

Obviously you don't agree with what was said, but that is the whole point of passing information verbally, teachers can say what they really think.

LIZS Sun 29-Jun-14 08:35:58

Agree with luggage . You felt strongly enough to pursue the good reference so why back down now ? His "reputation" would soon be forgotten if he is as good as they were originally led to believe. Presumably what they know of you as a member of staff contradicts and undermines the credibility of her report too.

Yes you can complain to school 1 about the teacher and leave it at that , but I don't think all this talk of financial losses will get you very far. If you work at new school and your dw at the other presumably they aren't that far apart so either way the house move could still happen and that is your choice. Not sure ISI which is afterall a self governing body would be very interested.

AgaPanthers Sun 29-Jun-14 15:11:41

I'm sorry but this makes no sense.

Your son is either a terror or he isn't. The new school will quickly work that out for itself, there is no need to withdraw the application.

Primafacie Mon 30-Jun-14 10:17:40

Agree with others that your OP is odd. Since you already work in the receiving school, presumably the commute is doable, so why did you need to change areas? Be that as it may, you had decided to change areas, so why are you changing your mind even though the school still wants your son? Why do you think 'they' will be watching your son like hawks? How is your school dealing with the safeguarding concerns against you?

It sounds like there is a huge back story there, which makes it very hard for readers to form a view or offer advice.

FearandClothing Wed 02-Jul-14 08:51:48

If this is a State school then what they have done is illegal , both the new school and the former have acted unlawfully insofar as state schools are not allowed to ( legally) select based on references good or bad and they are also not allowed to offer a reference based on the same law that prevents requests for references. The only references that should be allowed to be passed on are those in an advisory capacity when a child has special needs and useful information to help the child in the transition is shared eg: ''Simon gets very upset when faced with new challenges please prepare him well in advance'' . Everything else a new school requires should be on the school records.

Any state school that required a reference to get in would a) not be a school I would want my child in and b) would find themselves in a Tribunal.

References? Secret selections? That ain't the Socialist way Maaaaan!

airplanesandsun Wed 02-Jul-14 09:17:50

I have no idea why you would have stopped all your plans and pulled out of a house sale over this. It doesn't make sense to me.

You are also talking about a normal 7 year old boy. It doesn't matter what the old school teacher says over the phone. He may even be better /differently behaved at new school. It is also down to them to assess him. I assume he is your pfb ???

It all seems very unprofessional and full of emotions. You were probably embarrassed by it all and angry, but that's a different issue to your don being settled at school

Unexpected Wed 02-Jul-14 16:52:08

fearsndclothing the op confirmed already that both are independent schools.

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