Poor show

if you spot groups of teachers pretending to sell The Big Issue or performing role-plays about homelessness, there is a reason.

The new national priorities for continuing professional development state that teachers should acquire "a theoretical understanding of deprivation".

The Training and Development Agency for Schools says the intention is to make teachers more empathetic as part of a wider goal of catering for social diversity within the classroom.

This may cause a few jaws to drop, and not just in tough schools where teachers come into close contact with deprivation every day. The suggestion that teachers are out of touch with those on low incomes will rankle at a time when the Government is proposing to keep teachers' pay rises below inflation. And young teachers with student loans to pay off may query the definition of "theoretical".

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