Ask a teacher

27th June 2008 at 01:00
Q: A colleague in my school constantly bad-mouths other staff to pupils who are influenced by his stories
Q: A colleague in my school constantly bad-mouths other staff to pupils who are influenced by his stories. The teacher in question denies all such conversations. What can be done?

Sara, Essex

A: Depending on just what is said, and the reliability of witnesses, this might not only constitute a disciplinary matter within the school but be a case for the General Teaching Council. Given that this teacher is impervious to discussion on this, you should leave a copy of the teachers' code of conduct in his pigeon-hole highlighting the section Unacceptable Professional Conduct: "Seriously demean or undermine pupils, their parents, carers or colleagues..." That should get the message across - and, what's more, you will be doing him a favour. Mal, Ebbw Vale

A: Exercise caution before embarking on a witch-hunt. If you've heard colleagues are being bad-mouthed by another teacher then, presumably, the feedback is coming from pupils. You might find yourself in a situation whereby you are accepting their version of what was said. This isn't wrong, but be aware that some pupils like nothing better than to play off teacher against teacher. My advice is don't go there; rise above it. John, Worthing

A: Ignore it. Pupils are extremely savvy in matters of social awareness and although they may initially enjoy taboo discussions about staff members, they will ultimately make their own judgements. Your colleague will do himself more harm as the pupils begin to recognise his insecurity Theresa, West Sussex

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