Diary of an NQT: Complaining to the SLT…

Written by: Diary of an NQT | Published:
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With a long to-do list, our NQT diarist is dismayed to be seconded for exam invigilation at the last minute. She decides to complain to the SLT…

With the year 11s gone, I have only gained another four hours of time on the timetable. Not to be sniffed at I know, but I’ve mentioned before how much I am being expected to do in this short amount of bonus time.

However, luckily for me, another humanities teacher has just returned from maternity leave and is without a timetable. She has very kindly agreed to take one of my key stage 3 classes so I now have an extra four hours of gain time a fortnight. Hurrah!

On Monday, I was all geared up to make the most of these extra hours of gain time. My list was long, but I was feeling energetic and pleased to have the time to tackle it. But then the email comes: “Due to some changes on the timetable, you will now be required to invigilate for two hours.”

Now, I am fully prepared to do my bit for the school and I know that staff illness can’t be helped, but really!? You’re telling me that there are no other members of staff available who could at least do one of the two hours of invigilation?

I was not impressed... Especially as just a few days before, my head of department had complained about being put in exactly the same situation.

They had been asked to invigilate at the last minute and had also asked if it was possible for other teachers to share the burden. They were told that it was too late to change it. So when the email came to me, I was even more annoyed, because the issue had already been raised.

As I sat stewing in my own irritation, I debated my options. Do I keep my mouth shut and just do what I’ve been told without protest? Do I downright refuse to do it? Or do I make my voice heard but still do it anyway? I went with the last option and I have to say I think it was the right choice.

Two other colleagues from my department had also had the email and they were taking different tacks. One had decided to completely refuse and the other just accepted their fate. The first is now paranoid that they have made enemies of the exams officer and the deputy head, and the other still feels a lingering annoyance that they were asked.

I decided to send an email to the deputy head to complain. I was actually pretty scared. I don’t know them all that well. I was brave though, and I sent the most polite, diplomatic complaint email that I think I’ve ever written. It was full of pleases and thank yous, understanding and appreciation. It was a complaint with a thick veil of “please don’t hate me forever”.

I’d like to say that it worked, but it didn’t. I still had to do the full two hours of invigilation. However, I don’t think the deputy head hates me! So that’s a success.

Even though I didn’t get the outcome I wanted, I did get a reasonable response with some degree of regret and understanding. My senior colleague told me that they were sorry and that they would do their best to make sure I wasn’t used next time a situation like this occurred.

It wasn’t the “don’t worry about it – keep your free two hours” that I was hoping for, but it was a fair response. I felt as though I’d been listened to.
So it was a bit of a milestone for me – my first ever grumble to a senior leader. It could have gone better, but at least I survived!

  • SecEd’s NQT diarist this year is a teacher of citizenship, RE and humanities at a school in England.


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