Every teacher matters too

30th November 2007 at 00:00
I have lost count of the times I have reminded staff of the airline safety warning: "If you are travelling with children, apply the oxygen mask to your own face before assisting children with theirs."

A brief scan of articles on the welfare of teachers throws up many references to the importance of making every teacher matter as well as every pupil. How confident are you that your staff feel safe, healthy, able to achieve economic well-being, that they can offer a positive contribution and are enjoying their work and achieving through it?

Let us look now at the Stay Safe aspect of the initiative. If a member of your team felt harassed or bullied by another teacher, would they know that you would listen to them sympathetically and then work towards a solution, guided in your action by the victim's needs? If you were in doubt about what to do, would you have an authority to consult or do you have a whistle-blowing policy? What about safety in the classroom? Are your staff well-supported in classroom management, with colleagues close by in a suite of rooms? Do they receive regularly updated advice, training or material on good learning behaviour?

At Hinchingbrooke School, our behaviour managers contribute to the weekly staff bulletin, giving suggestions and tips on how to reinforce the behaviour policy. It has become quite the thing, with staff recounting tales of how they used that week's bulletin:

"So I asked Anthony to sit down, then thanked him immediately as if there were an expectation of compliance, and then I instantly turned away to speak to another pupil."

"And did it work, Terry?"

"I think so, but I didn't dare turn back to look until later in the lesson."

Di Beddow, Deputy head, Hinchingbrooke School in Huntingdon, Cambridgeshire.

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