10th November 2000 at 00:00
Sara Bubb offers advice to students and NQTs

Is it fair that I was criticised during my termly review with my independent school headteacher for what I wear? There is no school policy other than to avoid "figure-hugging clothes" and I consider that I always dress sensibly and professionally.

Some other staff do dress inappropriately, but the head said he wanted to mould me into the type of staff he wants because I am an NQT.

From what you say, your head was being unfair. The meeting should have been a professional review of your progress towards meeting the standards for the induction period. Did he refer to the QTS standard D(c) that requires you to "set a good example to the pupils you teach, through your presentation"; or induction standard (i) that says you need to "take responsibility for implementing school policies and practices"?

These are he criteria he should have used. You should certainly not be treated any differently to other members of staff. The idea that you can be "moulded" because you're an NQT is unacceptable. Your head should draw up a policy on dress in consultation with all staff if he feels strongly about it.

As for what to do, you could seek advice from your professional association, which will be able to advise you on the implications of the Human Rights Act. Perhaps write to him politely, asking for clarification of what aspects of the above standards he considers are an issue, with examples. This will demonstrate that you are participating fully in the assessment (as required in paragraph 31 of the induction circular) - and show that you are not someone to be harassed.

Email your questions to Bubb regrets she cannot enter into correspondence

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