I am writing this post as I feel I have no options left. To take legal action could result in something I do not want to happen.
Up until 3 weeks ago I was an instructor for Sheffield Hallam Pole Fitness Society. Then with no warning I was dropped. This post is detailing the events leading up to this and the reality of what has happened from my side of it all. Caution this is VERY long.
On Tuesday 18th March I received a telephone call from Sophie Amos at Sheffield Hallam saying there had been complaints and I HAD to come in for a meeting with my teaching qualifications and insurance documents “If I had them”. I arranged the meeting and posted this on Facebook:
Please note the lack of names or identifying information it becomes important later on. Please also note that prior to this I had had a meeting at the union with officers and any ‘issues’ had been resolved. There had never been any kind of correspondence from committee at any time.
I prepared for this meeting with all my documents and results of surveys etc. Then Thursday 20th March I receive another call saying all was sorted out and I didn’t need to attend the meeting. I thought all was fine. Then the rug was well and truly yanked from under me!
4 concerned students messaged me asking me what had happened. Not having a clue what they were on about they sent me this screen shot:
To say I was shocked is an understatement! There are comments on that status about Gina mediating between me and the Union but I was never involved in ANY discussions about my teaching, classes or anything.
From this I discovered I had an email from Georgina on behalf of the society. This email is quoted verbatim in my response to them and I’m afraid my response is long.
“I am writing in response to an email I received on the 20th March.
I have copied in the Activities Officer and President as I have been told that meetings have been held about my classes therefore I am assuming they were involved.
I was very shocked to have received this email as, up until a telephone call from Sophie on Tuesday 18th March, I was under the impression all issues had been sorted out. To receive an email listing problems that hadn’t been brought to my attention or don’t even exist was quite an unpleasant surprise.
In order to address the issues I have, I am going to use the contents of the email I received and respond to each point.
Sorry to have to tell you this but as the President of the society, it’s my job to. As of now, we are no longer able to run society classes at your studio.
This has come from the heads of the union and there is nothing I can do about it. – If this has come from the heads of the union why was I not invited to these meetings? If my work is being judged I have every right to be there while I am being discussed and I am formally requesting copies of all the minutes from these meetings. I would also like to ask why my scheduled meeting with a Union member was cancelled when this would have allowed me to address the following issues in person. I would also have expected formal written notice from the Union about any decisions that they have reached.
We don’t feel the classes are being run well enough to be in line with the fee increase. – The fee increase takes me to the same rate of pay per hour that most dance studios would charge with an instructor included. Similarly, the society has not had a fee increase in two years which does not correspond to inflation. Most businesses will increase prices when inflation increases yet I have tried to stop this from occurring with the society but it is not something that can be held off indefinitely.
I’ve noticed, as many others have, that over the past few weeks, girls are being left out in classes, not being seen to and just stand around. – I too have noticed students that stand about; as with any other activity you cannot force people to take part. If members wish to spend their time talking or doing something other than pole it is not possible for me to force them to do something else. Had members of the committee been at classes I’m sure they would have helped me to encourage people to take part in classes.
There’s no longer structure in the class and I don’t feel the girls are getting anything out of the classes. – I feel this is an unsupported statement. I have a structure to my classes that is warm up, spins, conditioning, climbs and inverts then stretching. It is not a perfect structure but that is impossible to do in a class of so many abilities. If there were a class for the more advanced students, as has been requested numerous times, this would be much easier to structure. I don’t want to split apart friends in a class when they are at different levels as this can create disappointment and make a class less fun. As the committee have decided that classes should be of mixed ability I have to make the best structure possible for the majority. I do not have an issue with mixed ability classes – indeed sometimes it can really motivate people – but it does mean that any structure has to be limited.
Also by leaving a class to be taught by someone who is not insured or trained puts the girls at risk, which is something I cannot allow. As the President, I have a duty of care to my members and if I was to continue with the classes after identifying these risks, I would become liable, as would the Student’s Union. – This is completely unfounded. I and all my instructors are trained and insured. I have all documentation to prove this which I would gladly bring to any meeting and had been prepared to bring to the meeting that was cancelled by yourselves. I am very aware of risk and liabilities in these situations and would NEVER put my students at risk. My qualifications far outweigh many Pole Dancing instructors and I ensure that only qualified instructors can teach in my studio. I have mentioned many a time that I am concerned that there hasn’t been a committee member at majority of the sessions I have taught this year. I have also mentioned that I was not comfortable with holding the society cash at my studio as there has been a spate of robberies from my studio of cash and valuables. This is with the police at the moment.
We raised issues with you before, but things have continued. For example, professionalism. I do not think it was ok of you to post about what was going on, on Facebook. At that point, nothing had been discussed in detail with you and in the end; you insulted me, my society and my University’s student union, which is not on. Nothing should have been put on Facebook at all.- This is unclear which status you are referring to. There is a status I wrote on Facebook that came after a very brief and abrupt telephone call demanding I come to a meeting as complaints had been received. I did not identify anyone in the post or disclose the situation all this can be seen as is personal venting. Therefore any insult that was taken from this is merely personal interpretation of an ambiguous statement. In regards to your own statuses on facebook, before I had received your email I’d already received 4 emails from very concerned students wondering what had happened as the society wall had been posted to before I had. Indeed nothing had been discussed with me and still hasn’t been. I have had a lot of unfounded accusations levied at me that I haven’t had a chance to refute at all. From what I have been sent by the concerned students there are many loaded comments on your facebook post about me implying I have done something awful? This can be seen as liable and somewhat hypocritical in comparison to the accusations of my own facebook statuses.
This whole situation has been handled completely inappropriately, unprofessionally and potentially could also be perceived as slander and could have defamed my business. I will not accept this. I have worked very hard to build A Pole New Adventure to where it is. I am one of only TWO level 4 PDC instructors in Yorkshire; this means I have fulfilled many requirements in training and experience to achieve that. The Pole Dance Community (PDC) is a national body set up by pole dance instructors to make sure that certain standards are set within teaching pole. I also collect data from current students on a regular basis on how they believe classes are run and what they would like to happen within the studio and in all of that data I have less than 1.3% negative responses. In amongst these responses are students that also attend SHUPFS.
I have taught SHUPFS for nearly 2 years now and have always had really well attended classes. I even have many of the students attend my classes outside of SHUPFS. I have always shown the students of SHUPFS the utmost respect. I have allowed my premises to be used by the society for parties I have also loaned my own equipment at short notice without any complaint as I really enjoyed working with them.
Therefore I am formally requesting copies of all complaints that have been received about me/my studio (identifying details removed of course), any minutes from meetings where my studio or I have been discussed. I would expect to receive this information within 14 days from today, the 7th April.”
To date (10th April) I have received this response:
“I’m sorry it has taken me a few days to reply but I wanted to make sure I had the right answers for you and it’s a very busy time for officers at the moment. Firstly thank you for your email. To clarify the decision taken to no longer attend your studio was one that the committee made based on issues that concerned them, they spoke to Union about these issues, and as a committee came to their decision. There were no official complaints made from the Society to Hallam Union therefore there are no minutes. The relationship has evidently broken down between yourself and the Society and as such the Society has taken the decision it has.
We thank you for the time and effort that you put into supporting the members and wish you all the best for the future.” This was from Sophie Amos on the 27th March.
Yet I know there was a post on the society wall that AGAIN states the Union made the decision!
I have emailed Sophie and Gina again:
“Having received an email from Sophie today I was very surprised to be told the entire decision to stop my classes lies with the committee of the society.
In your email to me and in your posts on the society wall you have said the union gave you no choice in the matter. There is an implication there that I have done something so awful the union have told you to get rid immediately.
I would like to know how and why the decision was made to remove my classes when they are nearly all well attended by everyone but committee members.
Many of your society members are shocked and disappointed by your decision as am I.
Communication has broken down as you decided to not speak to me at all. Instead you make outlandish claims in an email all of which can be refuted!
If I don’t receive an adequate response quickly I will be instructing a solicitor to act on my behalf. What you have written in the email is liable and on Facebook is liable by omission. You could have seriously damaged my business”
“Sorry for bothering you at what I know is a very busy time. I wouldn’t need to do this at all if I actually understood what has happened.
I’m afraid your email doesn’t even come close to resolving the issues that I have regarding this situation.
There have been messages that can be construed as liable against my business and I.
The accusations levied at me by the committee are completely unsubstantiated. The posts on the society Facebook page can be seen as liable by omission. By making these implications the committee could have seriously damaged my business.
I am also intrigued that the union had no say in the withdrawal of my services, Georgina has told the entire society that the union had the final say and she had no choice. This is liable against the union too if the decision was solely the committees.
I’m not sure how exactly relations have broken down if the committee haven’t even tried to talk to me at all. My classes had nearly all been well attended by many students which would imply that my teaching wasn’t substandard at all.
I am not fighting for the classes back; I am fighting this because I want my studios name restoring.
If I don’t receive an adequate response I will have no choice but to instruct a solicitor to act on my behalf.”
I have since had a meeting with a senior manager at Hallam Union and told him everything. I have expressed my confusion at why all this has happened. As you can clearly see the Union haven’t TOLD the society to do anything. Why leave an implication that I have done something awful on the internet for all to see. My classes were popular with the society. I always left the ball in their court with what they wanted. Never once have the committee attempted to meet with me and discuss any issues instead I have been badmouthed behind my back when I have spent 2 years supporting them fully.
I’ve wrote this post as if I take legal action as suggested then the chances are that Hallam Union will disband the Pole Society which I do NOT want to happen.
What I want to know is the REAL reasons I was dropped as instructor. Even if the real reason is that the committee decided they didn’t like me. Don’t lie about how the Union have made the decision and they had no choice. Don’t lie saying there was mediation between Gina the union and I. I haven’t been consulted in ANY way. The society members have been lied to and that is not acceptable at all. You cannot feed your members information in this way so they don’t argue with your decision.
The ball is in your court Hallam, I await your response