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5 Things to think about this week

1. Ensure your bullying policy covers homophobia

Government guidelines on bullying, widely welcomed in the teaching profession, appeared in September. The deep concern is not just the bullying of individuals, but the way the word "gay" is used to insult anyone whose interests fall outside the tribal norm. Tackling overt bullying is one thing; it's surely depressing to feel that your hard work on values and attitudes falls on stony ground.

Recommended reading

Left Field, footballer Graham le Saux's autobiography, which describes how any young person even perceived as "different", is victimised.

School Report by the organisation Stonewall,

Government guidelines, under "behaviour" at

2. Apply for a scholarship to the USA

This year you or one of your colleagues could fly to the United States for a couple of weeks to study an area of professional interest, coming back with ideas to feed into the improvement agenda. One of the best ways to do this is with the support of a Walter Hines Page scholarship from the English Speaking Union. Each of the main teaching unions sponsors a WHP scholarship and applications go through them. The next round closes at the end of November. Details, with reports from past scholars, are on the ESU website,

3. Review your policy on allergies

News that a school has attracted attention because it asked a child with a nut allergy to stay home until staff were ready to deal with it ought to remind all schools to review their own preparations. The fear, always, is that some allergies can lead to potentially fatal anaphylactic shock. The good news is that with the right response a bad reaction is quickly dealt with and many schools find there is no reason why a susceptible child should not be fully included. The Anaphylaxis Campaign has a special website for schools, which is a model of clarity and reassurance and could form the basis of a school policy.

4. Review your diary

Are you having too many meetings? This is the time of year when there seems so much to do and one inevitable response is to have more meetings. Are they all necessary, or effective? Some years ago the Association of Teachers and Lecturers published an excellent document entitled Effective Meetings in Schools and Colleges". It is still on its website and free to download,

5. Ensure you are caring for your carers

Carers UK reports that three million people are now juggling care and work, so it is virtually certain that at least one person on your staff is caring for someone, usually an elderly parent. The chances are they are stressed and worried about keeping up with colleagues. Often they are people whose skills ou value.

A school, of all places, should be acting as an understanding and supportive employer. And since April carers have had increased legal rights to consideration in the workplace. You, and they, need to know about these. For information on workplace rights see

Send your contributions or suggestions for this column to Gerald Haigh at

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