Asking for a sabbatical..

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Flora
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Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:16 pm

.. what do I write?

I'm totally stuck. The Head hasn't agreed verbally, or really been up for discussing it with me, this is a letter to the chair of the governors.

I'm asking for 3 months off (with the expectation that they'll ask me to make it fit to term times, so only 9 weeks). If they don't let me take it as unpaid leave/whatever, then I'll leave. Do I include that bit?

Do I write about why I want to do it?
There are no benefits to the school.

Erm...

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by mad hatter » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:23 pm

send the letter to your boss first.

if youre that unhappy there why piss off your boss and then go back?
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by shunter » Thu Apr 19, 2018 3:41 pm

I would discuss it verbally. You stick something in his diary and keep doing it until he stops cancelling. You can ring him can’t you? I can’t accept it impossible to have an adult conversation with him.

I would never put an ultimatum in writing as an opening gambit or a real threat - that would be totally inappropriate and childish.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by jessica_fletcher » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:23 pm

Bypassing the head seems wrong.

And of course there are advantages to you doing this, waffle on about new experiences, culture, language blah blah blah.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by mad hatter » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:31 pm

why not leave vs sabatical
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Scrubb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:31 pm

You absolutely don't tell them that you'll leave if they don't grant it. No one likes ultimatums and I reckon they'd just tell you to quit, then. IF they don't grant it, then you can politely let them know that you'll be submitting your resignation, in such a way as to leave the door open to them to change their mind.

And I also wouldn't bypass the head.

Plus what jess said - you can find benefits to the school.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by DCComic » Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:36 pm

The benefit to the school is that you won’t leave. How will your work be covered? Present a plan.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by leela » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:12 pm

Those benefits are way too fuzzy for a school. They don't begin to make up for the hassle of covering an experienced teacher/manager for that amount of time. I wouldn't even mention any of those things.
In the climate of English schools today, it would be incredibly naive to talk about such woolly 'benefits'. The head and governors would think less of her for even suggesting them.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Scrubb » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:24 pm

Ok, then - is there any chance of choosing some sort of activity/course to fit into that time that WOULD bring concrete benefits to the school? Would a language course be useful, or could you find some sort of research opportunity wherever you're going? (If you're willing, that is.)
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Stan In Maryland » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:28 pm

If you place of work doesn't have a sabbatical policy, it isn't a sabbatical, it is unpaid leave. I will say if any of my staff started off with "if you don't grant me this unpaid leave I will quit" I would tell them to have a good life. Frankly if any of them came to me asking for unpaid leave for three months I would have to really think about it. I would be a major problem in our work place for someone to be gone that long, we just don't have a large enough staff to provide coverage without major effort. That said, if it was for a good reason I would certainly consider it and obviously have for medical issues.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by snowgirl » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:35 pm

Isn't the real benefit that Flora won't lose her one and only mind if she's allowed a break?
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by lolasf » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:36 pm

Why don't you just quit? You've hated this job since about 15 minutes after you started work, could you use part of the 'sabbatical' to find a new job?
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by tortuga » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:49 pm

Scrubb wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 4:31 pm
You absolutely don't tell them that you'll leave if they don't grant it. No one likes ultimatums and I reckon they'd just tell you to quit, then. IF they don't grant it, then you can politely let them know that you'll be submitting your resignation, in such a way as to leave the door open to them to change their mind.
Yeah, this.

Plus what DCC said about the benefit to the school being that they won't lose you. So I wouldn't bother waxing lyrical about culture etc. While you don't want to give them an ultimatum, you also don't want to come across as though you're negotiating, if that makes sense.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by shilgia » Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:52 pm

Here’s how I did it last year:

1. Spoke to someone I trusted who was among the people who had to sign of on it, and who was in a good position to talk to the others who needed to sign off. She got the real reason. She and I agreed that for everyone else it would be “personal reasons” and she’d back me up on that. I wanted one person to know the real reason just so there’d never be any question whether I got some illegitimate benefit somehow.

2. Asked everyone else whose permission was needed for leave “for personal reasons.” No one asked any questions. They probably all thought something bad was going on. (There wasn’t.)

Not everyone needs to know the reason. No ultimatums. No reason to sell it as a benefit to the school, unless it obviously will be - if your actual reason for taking leave is to learn how to work better with x type of student, then by all means say that, but if you’re taking leave to do something for yourself, don’t clutter up your time with courses or activities just for appearance’s sake.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by ben_hanscombe » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:45 pm

shilgia wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:52 pm
Here’s how I did it last year:
Didn't realise you'd done it. Congratulations on taking the plunge.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 7:49 pm

Oh sorry, that was unclear. My Head knows about it, and knows I'm going to put it in writing, but he's had me going for other jobs and stuff already this year, so is (rightly) taking everything I say with a bucket of salt. Hence why it needs to be in writing. I haven't bypassed him - he knows I want some time off, and we've discussed my family taking some time away, and have discussed me permanently leaving to be able to do it if necessary - but that was when it was for 6 - 9 months.

Our reason for doing it is to spend some time together doing something 'outdoorsy' before child starts school.

I'm in charge of staffing in the school, I've 'done' staffing for next year to account for me being gone fro 3 months - it depends slightly on when my current job share comes back from mat-leave, but we have a known replacement, who informally is happy to do a few weeks full time, or swap and cover my days in class while I'm away. Thing is, I'm also the special needs bod, so that needs covering - the management stuff is easy to cover, on paper anyway.

I'm going to have a go at writing it now - will post.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by madmonday » Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:21 pm

No ultimatums.....present your case wait for the reply..
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by SeamusMcCool » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:02 pm

madmonday wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 8:21 pm
No ultimatums.....present your case wait for the reply..
This and what Snowgirl said if applicable.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:33 pm

We do have a system for sabbaticals, but mostly for education type things. This is for fun. It's a period of unpaid leave. Nearly there with the letter....

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by jessica_fletcher » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:34 pm

Can I ask a somewhat simple question.

Why do you want to go back to this job?
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:39 pm

I’m writing to request a period of unpaid leave from 2nd February – April 22nd 2019. This includes three weeks of half term and Easter holidays, and totals eight term-time weeks.

My partner and I would like to spend some time together as a family before our daughter starts school in September 2019. Our intention is to go to the French Alps, where we have lived before, and where we will be able to teach 'child' to ski.

I understand the inconvenience of covering my role for a short period of time, particularly when there is uncertainty around Mrs H’s return from maternity leave. She is currently planning on returning after February half term 2019, but is legally not obliged to inform the school until nearer the time.

My teaching responsibilities as they stand can be covered by a known colleague (Mrs F), providing continuity for the children.

Mr K and I have discussed the likelihood of Mr W completing his in-school training in year 3 with me as his mentor, which would give further consistency for the children. He will be teaching up to 80% of the time from early in the academic year.

In regard to my SEND and management roles, staff within school could carry out these responsibilities for a short period of time. This could be viewed as an opportunity for development (CPD) for a number of staff members.

It is possible for me to leave SEND in a strong position for eight weeks, with any day to day operation in the hands of administration, teaching and senior members of staff where necessary.

As the school is beginning to organise staffing resource for next year, I feel that now is the right time to ask whether this is possible.

I’d be happy to discuss this in more detail if you have any further questions. I look forward to hearing from you.
Last edited by Flora on Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:41 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:40 pm

Jess - I want to go back to this job so I don't have any periods of no earnings after coming back from France. I'm going to leave next summer anyway, but they don't need to know that. It would mean I'm then able to sort out a different job to coincide with child starting school, which seems good timing. I'd only have to carry on doing from Easter to the summer, which is fine.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by madmonday » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:42 pm

Good luck with the application..
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by shilgia » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:45 pm

Given what the reason is, I'm not sure I'd include it in this letter. Can you just skip that paragraph?

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:53 pm

I could, yes. Was trying to put something personal in there...

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:54 pm

What about if I just took out the Alps bit and left the first sentence about before child starts school? Gives a reason.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by shilgia » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:55 pm

It is personal, but you're writing to someone who is going to have to deal with finding coverage, explaining to colleagues why they have to cover, etc., and I'd be wary of rubbing in their face that you're going to have fun while they'll be scrambling. (Not saying it's wrong; just that it's not something to emphasize in this letter.)

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by shilgia » Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:56 pm

Flora wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 9:54 pm
What about if I just took out the Alps bit and left the first sentence about before child starts school? Gives a reason.
Yes, that works better I think. "My partner and I would like to spend some time together as a family before our daughter starts school in September 2019." Done.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by DianaHaddad » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:06 pm

I agree with shilgia, but maybe more with the earlier post than later. I don't think they need to know why you want the leave. It may drag up feelings that THEY didn't get to spend any time off as a family, why should you?--that's kind of an unusual luxury, isn't it? I don't know if it will help your cause.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by leela » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:16 pm

What Diana and shilgia said. I can't begin to imagine my head and governors' response to what you're asking for. It would never happen where I worked. Not only would it not be granted, but it would be career suicide.

That said, good luck to you.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:40 pm

Really? Career suicide? Blimey... I hadn't considered that. You were quite specialised though, much harder to replace on a short term basis.

It's a complicated thing for them to decide. I am doing staffing for next year, and I can't do it in good faith without making sure I've got Mr W covered for his training, or the SEND stuff covered a bit. Remember there is someone DESPERATE to take my position, so either she'll be happy to start with short term, or she'll be happy to take over full time. I don't want to work for her.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:42 pm

that's kind of an unusual luxury, isn't it?
Bloody sad if that's the case really isn't it? Family comes before job every time.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by leela » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:43 pm

I think the other main issue they might have with it, is setting a precedent. Even if they were prepared to cover you, they might think (not unreasonably) that if they let you do this, next year they'll have others asking for the same thing, and kicking off if they don't get it, when you did.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:45 pm

Yes, that's absolutely my main concern - I've already spoken to the head about that too. He just said that lots of people wouldn't even consider it/be able to afford it. I pointed out it was about priorities, he just shrugged.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by DianaHaddad » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:50 pm

Flora wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:42 pm
that's kind of an unusual luxury, isn't it?
Bloody sad if that's the case really isn't it? Family comes before job every time.
I don't know. I know lots of people who spend time with their family, and lots of people who don't. I've never known anyone to leave a job to get extra time in before school starts. I don't think you shouldn't do it, I just don't know if it's going to seem valid to the people making the decision. Either becuase they wanted to too, and didn't get to, or becuase it's just an unusual request. I think "family comes first" is a strawman. It's not that family doesn't come first to the millions of people who don't take this type of leave. It's just that you want to put your family first in a way that seems non-traditional.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by shilgia » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:54 pm

On the flip side of that: because it's not traditional, plenty of people will not do it, even if you do it. They won't be able to afford it; it won't be something that's possible for their partner; etc. Even if you set a precedent, few people will be likely to follow suit.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by leela » Thu Apr 19, 2018 10:58 pm

They might not follow suit in the same way, but they'll feel emboldened to ask for term time off for their holidays, etc. Maybe ask for a week or two off. Then when it's not granted (it's pretty unheard of to have holiday in term time) it'll be "well you gave flora NINE weeks off, and I'm only asking for two"
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:07 pm

Well now.. there was a situation last year where a teacher booked a holiday going into the Monday of a new term. He claimed it was a mistake, but he's since admitted it was about flight price. At the time he got away with it, with no loss of pay.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:08 pm

I really need a way out of teaching. Shame it fits with child school holidays.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Iolar » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:13 pm

There is an EU regulation entitling parents to (I think) eighteen weeks' unpaid leave per child, limited to eighteen weeks in a twelve month period.

I would just write to the head informing him that you wish to avail of twelve weeks' parental leave. What you do with it is none of his business. You will then have another six week block to use.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Thu Apr 19, 2018 11:14 pm

I've used my parental leave for this child.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by tortuga » Fri Apr 20, 2018 11:39 am

I'm jealous of your 3 months in the Alps! Sounds bloody fab!

But yeah, agree with the others, don't mention the reason. I would only ever explain a personal situation/decision to an employer if it was something they were legally obliged to take into account (illness, bereavement, parental leave etc.) Anything else is really none of their business, won't help your cause and could actually hurt you, or at the very least will come across as unprofessional.

Their decision will come down to how feasible it is to cope with your absence, and from this perspective your reasons are totally irrelevant.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by brodie_bruce » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:16 pm

lolasf wrote:
Thu Apr 19, 2018 5:36 pm
Why don't you just quit? You've hated this job since about 15 minutes after you started work, could you use part of the 'sabbatical' to find a new job?
Indeed. A mate of mine started a new job nine months ago and hates it so much (just didn't turn out anything like what he was told it was going to be) that he's been prescribed anti-depressants this week.....mind you, that didn't stop him going for a pint with me last night so I guess that means he wasn't on anti-depressants last night (and yeah, Jim Jeffries came up with that originally).
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Stan In Maryland » Fri Apr 20, 2018 12:47 pm

I can't imagine them approving without a reason. Perhaps things are different there.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Fri Apr 20, 2018 5:58 pm

Ok, it went in without any comment about what we'll do. Spoke to head then emailed to chair of gov. Head reckoned she might be open to some different stuff, and poo- pooed the idea of a precedent. Still think that's the biggest reason for not getting it. He didn't give his own opinion, but emailed HR this afternoon. I should hear on Tuesday.

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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Scrubb » Fri Apr 20, 2018 6:10 pm

I don't see why asking for unpaid leave from teaching is any different from asking for unpaid leave in any other career. In all cases the considerations are the same - having to cover with a temp and make sure that the work is going to get done properly. I think it's up to the rigidity of the individual company/school whether or not it is going to happen.

And the precedent thing isn't that great a fear in that most people don't want to, or can't afford, them.

My company has allowed a few over the years. ONe was for educational leave but he was fitting a trip on the end of it too; another was a guy who made up a bit of a sob story about needing to spend time with his mother/grandmother back home in Belarus. I don't know how they'd react to a straight request with no explanation of why.
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by simon_in_exile » Fri Apr 20, 2018 7:37 pm

Good luck flora. I took three months unpaid leave between my Malaysia job and my Russia job, and went travelling with wife and daughter - I kicked off the process a similar period in advance as you have, and I made sure to find a solution to any resourcing gaps, just as you’ve indicated in your letter for roles xyz. It’s not too common in my job either, and although my bosses didn’t understand why I wanted to take such a long time off work, they were fine with me doing it because I’d planned the solutions for them in advance and reduced the hassle. So I don’t know if you’ve approached it the right way, but it’s certainly the same approach as I went with. Best of luck!
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by mad hatter » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:11 pm

what are you goung to do when you resign at the end of the summer?
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Vodd » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:20 pm

If you're going to leave anyway why don't you just quit and do temp teaching when you get back
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Re: Asking for a sabbatical..

Post by Flora » Fri Apr 20, 2018 8:30 pm

Temp teaching isn't much of a thing around us. Cover is mostly done by TAs. So, almost no chance of full time Work, and no chance of being paid over the summer holidays. A month and a half of no salary is a thing in a year when you've just spend your savings on 3 months not working! Also doesn't fit with childcare - ie I need to pay for childcare, but won't know where I'm working on any given day, or even if I'm working at all. Want to have child in pre-school too, which impacts where I'm able to work.

I'd do it if I had to, but it would be much easier to come back to a job I know.

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