Ask Tom

Teacher, TES Connect blogger and behaviour expert Tom Bennett puts on his agony uncle hat and answers your education questions

Tes Editorial

A group of students recently shouted some rude comments at me in the playground. They were given two-day internal exclusions as a punishment. One has done his time but the other two have been let off after their parents threatened to remove them from the school. I emailed my line manager who said I should forget about it. But if sanctions are given, surely they need to be followed through. What should I do?

A teacher, via email to

Context is the devil here. Are you sure of exactly who shouted at you? If it was a group of students, it can be difficult to discern precise culprits. But if you are 100 per cent certain about who said what, then yes, I would bring up the issue again and refuse to drop it. I wonder what would have happened if it had been the line manager who had been abused verbally. Probably something different. That said, there may be more to this than you know, so find out all you can. Then shout the place down.

Our policy for governor visits stipulates that they can make arrangements to discuss any issues with teachers after school. It does not include observing lessons. Union advice is that teachers should not be observed by governors. So what is the position if joint managementgovernor observations are due to be introduced? Can teachers refuse to be seen?

A teacher, via the TES Connect forums

Governors have a responsibility to inspect the school as they see fit in order to determine whether it is being run appropriately and that includes observations. What must not happen is for their opinion to be used as a formal part of any performance management process, unless they happen to be teacher-governors or similar. Observations are rarely pleasant but they are a necessary part of the good governance of the school ship. It is what is done with that information that is really important.

We are about to take 24 students to South America for four weeks and my headteacher has told me that all school rules need to be enforced at all times. But constant school rules for four weeks is going to be impossible to maintain and will have an adverse effect on the students, surely?

A teacher, via email to

This is madness. You cannot enforce every rule when you are on an international trip. That doesn't mean you can't aspire to the spirit of them - self-discipline, mannered conduct, sensible decision-making - but the real world is not a classroom, except in the most abstract sense. Given that your classroom contains no sleeping facilities (unless you count the back row), no dining facilities (ditto) and no check-in desks (pretty sure about that one), then you need to have a trips policy that is more sensible than this somewhat leaden advice.

Tom teaches full-time at Raine's Foundation School in London.

Do you agree with his advice? To have your say or ask a question, visit www.tesconnect.comasktom or email

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