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Control and well-being

Bob Holmes's article about appreciative inquiry in your April 14 issue contains a useful summary and then, in the final two paragraphs, he asserts that it is symptomatic of a loss of control by teachers and is all "smoke and mirrors".

The pilot project which Teacher Support Scotland is leading in collaboration with Fife and Renfrewshire councils is attempting to address just this issue of loss of control and feelings of overload and powerlessness amongst those who work in schools.

Appreciative inquiry is just one of several elements in the project and it will be trialled in eight schools out of the 20 taking part.

A fundamental principle of the approach is that it places control firmly in the hands of the participants. It does not require external support beyond the start-up phase, and it will be a matter for those involved if they wish to sustain it when the pilot is complete.

It is an approach which has a long and successful pedigree in settings outside schools, but there is also evidence of considerable success where it has been trialled in schools elsewhere in the UK. In the pilot project, it will be rigorously assessed by external evaluators and the outcomes will be widely disseminated.

Finally, Teacher Support Scotland is part of the Teacher Support Network which is a unique charity dedicated to improving the personal well-being and effectiveness of teachers and others working in education. It has its roots in the Teachers' Benevolent Fund founded in 1877.

By any standards, it has been engaged in supporting teachers rather too long to tolerate being labelled a "carpetbagger".

Patrick Nash Chief executive Teacher Support Network

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