As head, I am trying to raise the standards at my school, which is in special measures. I believe that presentation is important, as well as academic achievement, and, with parental support, we are improving school uniform. What can I do about a few members of staff who are distinctly scruffy?

Any employer is entitled to establish reasonable standards of presentation by employees. In some cases, such as airlines, and shops, this may be a required uniform. In others, it may cover necessary protective clothing or the wearing of the company logo. One of the first schools I worked in required every teacher to wear an academic gown. At least it was tax deductible!

There is no reason why a governing body should not establish a reasonable dress code for staff. Ideally, this should be achieved through discussion and agreement but, once in place, it may be enforced, if need be, by appropriate disciplinary action.

We have placed a special needs Year 10 pupil on a work-related curriculum, in the belief that this best meets her educational needs. Her parents are refusing to accept this and will not allow her to attend her work placement. Must we put her back on to a normal curriculum?

With the exception of religious education, parents do not have the right to determine the curriculum that their child must follow. They do, however, have a statutory right of complaint about the curriculum to the governing body.

Having made a professional judgment about what is appropriate for this pupil, you should give proper consideration to the parents' views. However, if you are not persuaded by their argument, you are entitled to stick to your guns. They can take the case to the governors, who will decide which of you is right.

By refusing to let their daughter attend her work placement, the parents are condoning unauthorised absence, a matter for referral to the education welfare officer.

Teachers at this school have agreed to cover for absent colleagues beyond what is normally required, provided that any money saved on supply staff is transferred to expenditure for books and equipment. Is this acceptable?

There is nothing to prevent a governing body agreeing to divert funds set aside for staff cover into other areas of expenditure. Indeed, it might be very happy to do so in response to such a generous gesture.

I hope, however, that the governors would also have the good sense to realise that this arrangement should not apply in all circumstances.

Teachers carry a heavy workload and adding even more to it could prove counter-productive if stress levels rise and effectiveness is reduced.

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