No dress distress

27th July 2007 at 01:00
In the countdown to the autumn term, Sara Bubb has advice for new teachers. This week: how to look the part

Hooray, the summer holidays are here! It's important to have a good rest so you start the term refreshed, but there are useful preparations to make.

With the sales on, this is a good time to stock up on your teacher's wardrobe. One new teacher was sent home on her first day to change: she'd come to school in a halterneck top, low-slung jeans and a glimpse of thong. The shame.

Separate your teacher clothes from your real-self ones because it'll help you develop the all important teacherly persona. Gerald Haigh recalls a headteacher who wore the school uniform, blazer and all, saying: "Like the kids, I have to behave myself when I'm wearing it." Although extreme, it's a good point and sliding into your jeans will help you switch off when you're home.

Does your school have a dress code? Even if there's not a written one there'll be an unspoken standard. Wearing a jacket not only makes you look like a teacher but makes you feel like a teacher, which will be great for your self confidence and authority. Don't assume the standard is the same as at the end of July when you visited the school. Most people will have dressed more smartly at the start of the school year.

You can get grubby teaching so you're probably going to need fresh clothes each day. Choose fabrics that are easy to wash, quick to dry and don't need ironing.

For women, try to avoid clothes that reveal too much flesh or that are figure hugging, or button-up shirts that give a glimpse of your bra. When you're trying on clothes, practise your teacherly moves: stretching up high, leaning over and bending down. Is all your flesh covered?

Where do you shop? I was embarrassed recently when I assessed someone for Advanced Skills Teacher status who was wearing the same skirt as me. Not only did she look 10 times nicer in it but it was a really cheap number from Primark.

If something's great but a tad tight, buy it: you will lose weight when you start teaching. The TDA should use that in its recruitment campai **

Sara Bubb's Successful Induction for New Teachers is published in September by Paul Chapman

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