Teachers Given Poor Verbal Only References

Everybody thinks it’s illegal to give a bad reference. Why would it be? What would be the point of references if it was? It is illegal to give an untruthful reference though.

Heads hate this: bizarrely they feel that being forced to tell the truth stops them from telling future employers what really has been going on. Rather than tell the truth, if they don’t like you, most heads will either refuse to give a reference completely, or will give an ‘agreed’ reference, which will say little more than the dates that you worked there and what your job title was.

They will act as if they are doing you a huge favour by not exposing your many weaknesses in a bad reference, when really they are protecting themselves from repercussions of being found to have been untruthful on paper. Senior managers will never put anything down in writing that they don’t have concrete evidence to back up, which can make them very tricksy in this department.

They have a way around it though. There’s nothing to stop them speaking to your new head on the phone and having an off the record chat about you. Because this is not in writing they can say what they like about you, truth or not. The conversation will never have happened.

Once, I knew that a phone conversation like this had occurred about me, because a potential new head told me so. I asked them to put the issues in writing and they refused to, saying it was between me and my old head. It was enough for them to withdraw the offer of the post though.

It’s not the secret service, where messages will self destruct in 20 seconds. There’s just no need for this secret intelligence gathering.

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