Mixed Professional Messages

25th January 2013 at 00:00

The article "What's my soul purpose?" by Anne Thrope (TESS, 18 January), although making a fair and relevant point, contains explicit language that has no place in a professional journal. We are far from being prudish and not shocked by it; rather we are saddened that we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel in order to be marketable.

As a profession, a teacher's reputation is everything and as soon as we lose credibility in the eyes of the public it is very difficult to be taken seriously again. Can I draw your attention to an article by Victoria Briggs that appeared in last week's TESS supplement for new teachers as an example? "When a bit of fun takes a serious turn" (TES - New Teachers, 11 January, page 24)

It seems strange to us that, on one hand, your magazine highlights the dangers of teachers posting inappropriate comments and photographs on social media sites. But the next week, TESS publishes this article that is purported to be written by "a secondary teacher in the north of England", albeit behind the veil of a pseudonym.

Surely this is a case of mixed messages. The responsibility of being a teacher means that we cannot simply say what we want, when we want in the public domain. Every teacher has to uphold a certain level of conduct so that the profession is not drawn into disrepute. Again, can I draw your attention to the new GTCS standards for registration, published this week?

The Code of Professionalism and Conduct also reminds teachers of the need to uphold standards of personal and professional conduct, honesty and integrity and to act as role models to pupils.

An article like this, completely inappropriate to the context of a professional periodical, recipient of the Scottish Magazine of the Year award, does nothing to uphold these standards and nothing to promote confidence in our profession. Surely every writer must consider both purpose and audience when committing to a piece of work. Sadly, this article is fit for neither.

Fhiona Fisher (on behalf of all the teachers at Scotland's National Centre for Languages, SCILT).

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