Q A - Ask a teacher

There is no teacher union representative at my school. Who do I go to first if I need to ask anything or if I have an issue with something?

Fliss, Essex

A: Assuming your colleagues can't provide the necessary help, your union should have sent you details of the local representative(s) on its national steering committee and the local negotiating secretary, each of whom ought to be contactable by phone and email. You also ought to have been advised of the procedure to be followed in a real emergency. After that, if your union does not have an elected workplace representative, have you considered putting yourself forward?

Your union is sure to have training courses that you could attend at no cost to yourself and you would be more confident in solving not only your own problems but also those of your colleagues. Lastly, your union will have regular meetings of its members at which your attendance, and input, will be welcome.

Ralph, Manchester

A: I think you are entitled to feel short-changed that your union has no representation in your school.

It might be worth asking around and establishing whether one of the other teaching unions is active in your school. If so, the pragmatic thing to do would be to switch allegiance. It's often a case of achieving critical mass in one particular union branch.

So as a second piece of advice, if there is no branch of any union then ask around and see if there are like-minded folk who might want to band together.

Malcolm, Ebbw Vale


Q: We have a class of 10 to 11-year-olds who are perfectly manageable with permanent members of staff, but are rude and uncooperative with supply teachers. A few have refused to come to our school for that class. What is the best approach?

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