7th March 2003 at 00:00
CAN we employ an unqualified teacher to cover for a maternity leave?

The rules covering the employment of unqualified teachers, other than those on the Graduate Teacher Programme, are clear and apply to all situations.

An unqualified teacher may only be employed where the school has taken all reasonable steps to secure the services of a qualified teacher but without success.

The appointment is likely to be temporary, as it would be in this case anyway, because the school would be expected to renew its efforts to find a suitable qualified teacher after a reasonable lapse of time.

STAFF at a local railway station have complained of the bad behaviour of pupils, including rowdiness and trespass on the railway. They have provided evidence identifying some culprits. What are the limitations on my right to discipline them?

Responsibility for maintaining good order on railway stations and preventing trespass rests firmly with the company that owns the station.

Having said that, the school will want to protect its reputation and can discipline pupils who bring it into disrepute, whether or not they do so in school hours or on school premises.

If these pupils are clearly identifiable as being from your school, for instance if they are wearing uniform and are en route to or from school, they are liable to discipline by the school. Where parents have sought to challenge a school's right in this matter, the courts have sided firmly with the school.

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