Close that elitist officeclass gap;Opinion;Letter

5th February 1999 at 00:00
I MUST voice my irritation and annoyance at what I, and my colleagues, feel was a patronising and extremely damaging article, "Don't cook up trouble for yourself" (TES, First Appointments, January 8).

Historically, there has been a divide between teaching and non-teaching staff, primarily driven by the elitist view that those who were in teaching were academically brighter than those who weren't. The fact that having attained a 2:1 English degree I am now completing an MA and another member of my team also possesses a psychology degree, supports the view that personal career choice has a part to play.

In my seven years as office managertraining co-ordinator within a large comprehensive school I have worked long and hard to break down this divide and to promote my team as being professional and on an equal footing with the teaching section.

As such I implement and present training sessions to all staff and am responsible for whole-school review and development administration. All staff are involved in development and planning.

Every member of the non-teaching staff is a professional and I actively promote this view when meeting non-qualified teachers for the first time. I was therefore utterly dismayed at Kevin Berry's article which gave the impression that in order for non-teaching staff to perform effectively they have to be patted on the head.

While I acknowledge that certain information was of value I felt Mr Berry's tone was unfortunate, particularly the comment "allow them their dignity" which was patronising in the extreme.

Without doubt the icing on the cake was the supporting photograph which if it was meant to be funny - wasn't.

Deborah Leary 16 Churchside Harlaston Tamworth, Staffs

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