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The long and the short of it: are you too small to teach?

Teachers come in all shapes and sizes but can you be too short to teach? Postings on The TES website tell tales of staff teetering on stools to reach the top of whiteboards and being mocked by towering 10-year-olds.

Now a community of diminutive school staff has rallied round a trainee teacher's request for advice on whether her 4ft 10in stature will pose a problem. The vertically challenged Fluffykat9, said: "I remember to sit the pupils down when I want to tell them off. That way I'm looking down at them. The pupils think it is quite cute. We laugh about it together."

Vivien Dickinson, aged 58 and a proud 4ft 11in, retired from teaching after 35 years last month.

The former deputy head of Blackrod primary in Bolton, said: "It was an ongoing joke that pupils would be taller than me by the time they left.

Being petite had its benefits, she said. "When you are teaching very little children you don't have so far to go to get to their level and older pupils like to look after you, they can get quite protective."

Mrs Dickinson, who spent one term teaching secondary pupils, said that self-confidence and the right tone of voice were more important for controlling a class than the teacher's physique.

Meanwhile Paul Morgan, from St Paul's primary school in Bolton, Lancs, is regularly called "giant" or "daddy long legs" .

"I'm 6ft 4in and the younger children always say 'The giant's here' when I arrive. They like the fact I can touch the ceiling," said the 33-year-old.

"I'm always being 'borrowed' by staff to reach plates from the top kitchen shelf. It's not easy being tall either."

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