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Q: Since the word "satisfactory" following an inspection seems to mean the complete opposite where schools are concerned, isn't it time to reassess these judgments and have two categories: "Good enough" and "Not good enough"? Helen, Lincolnshire

A: Just as 50 is the new 40, satisfactory is the new rubbish. The misuse of language by the powers that be is yet another example of teachers not being treated fairly. After all, in what other walk of life would a "satisfactory" outcome be a cause for concern? Would that our lords and masters in Westminster and Whitehall be good enough to earn a satisfactory rating.

Sheila, Worthing

A: Dictionary definitions variously give "competent", "fulfilling all demands and requirements" and "suitable" among their interpretation of "satisfactory". One would hope that this should be considered a positive result. However, in reality, it is a useful gauge of areas where a school could do better.

Theresa, West Sussex

A: Great idea. Alternatives could be: strongest link or weakest link; top drawer or bottom drawer; above par or below par; best ever or worst ever; flawless or flawed; top-hole or bottom-hole; irreplaceable or easily replaceable; first-rate or second-rate; well-scrubbed or scrubber; deal or no deal; pick of the bunch or past your sell by date; x-factor or z-factor.

John, Cumbria

Coming up

Q: A couple of my teaching assistants either look like ladies of the night or are in weekend denim mode. I'm struggling to find the words to draw people's attention to it again on Monday - should we introduce a dress code as part of the code of conduct?

Q: I recently started teaching at quite a rough city school and am struggling with the behaviour of many of my groups. They just won't shut up. One group said it was going to complain to the head. I've been very open with my head of department and she and the senior management have been supportive so far. Should I be worried?

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Last week's Ask a Teacher question was from John in Warwickshire, not Sara from Essex as stated.

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