20th June 1997 at 01:00

To whom does a supply teacher, who is also a qualified inspector, turn when he discovers a school badly falling short of its duties - and using practices which are illegal?


The fact that you are qualified as an inspector does not confer any powers or duties upon you. You are simply qualified to be recruited as an inspector and to take part in official inspections when you are contracted to do so.

Given that virtually every school will be inspected during the OFSTED cycle, you may safely assume that the faults which you have observed, if not corrected in the meantime, will be duly noted and reported on by those charged with the responsibility of doing so.

If you wish to give the head the benefit of your special knowledge, you should first find out whether your comments would be welcomed. You might feel, on the other hand, that a supply teacher is a supply teacher, an inspector an inspector and that to confuse the roles is not a good idea.


I applied unsuccessfully for a temporary post covering a maternity leave and discovered that the person who got the job was not qualified to teach one of the two subjects required and specified in the advertisement, whereas I was. Do I have any remedy for this injustice?


No. You have confused the published description of the job with the criteria which the appointing panel used in coming to its decision.

It is highly likely that a willingness and apparent competence to teach the timetable were high on the list of the criteria, but the panel may well have also considered general qualities of teaching experience, personality and professional commitment.

Unless you have evidence of the members behaving with prejudice of race or gender, the most you could expect is a debriefing on the areas in which your application and performance at interview fell short of what they were looking for.


One of our teachers has been diagnosed as epileptic. As he teaches technology, I am concerned about the risks to him and to pupils. Are there regulations on this?


No. Many people suffer from epilepsy, including teachers, who can lead near-normal lives and cope with most situations. Some cannot.

Your teacher needs expert medical and professional advice in order to determine whether he is capable of continuing to teach, whether he can cope with the hazards associated with technology, or whether he should be retrained to teach another subject. His union may be helpful in this respect.

If the professional advice is that he should not teach at all, then the obvious route is an application for premature retirement on health grounds.

From your point of view, as head, you have to be satisfied that neither he nor his pupils are exposed to any unacceptable risk and you are entitled to base your judgment on the medical and professional advice which you receive.

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