15th February 2008 at 00:00
I am a pastoral head of house. How do I get heads of department to deal with children who do not do homework for their subject?

Alan, Worcester

A: This sounds like a classic case of the left hand not being fully aware what the right hand is doing - a lack of co-ordination. The interests of the pupils is paramount, and you must work with, or through, your departmental colleagues to get results. I think they should start with the assumption that you are dealing with fellow professionals who are as committed to the same ends as you. But you also have to accept that they are busy. Why not make life easier for them? Map out a clear and sensible procedure.

Kevin, Cheltenham

A: You could always try referring the matter upstairs to the headteacher. After all, conflict resolution is part of their job. A lot of these intra-organisational issues arise out of fuzzy lines of responsibility, it's usually a matter of clarification of who does what.

What you really need is a clear, fair and consensual policy on homework, with transparent lines of responsibility. This might be painful to thrash out, as there might be genuine areas of professional disagreement about the allocation of responsibilities.

Linda, Worthing

A: Isn't it your job, rather than that of the department heads, to get pupils to do their homework? What is really needed, by the sound of it, is a review of roles, responsibilities and the division of labour between you and your fellow professionals.

Pat, Brighton

Coming up

Q: Are there camps of different aged teachers in your school? Do the oldies sit and moan and the young ones run round like headless chickens?

Q: In our school, pupils' mobile phones are confiscated by staff. But one member of the senior management was seen messing around with pupils having pictures taken. What should we do about this apparent double standard?

Send your answer or any question you would like answered by your fellow teachers to We pay pound;30 for any question or answer published.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today