28th March 2008 at 00:00
How many teachers stay in touch with pupils once they leave school? When I left, a few of us frequently met up with some of our A-level teachers when we came home from university or college to catch up. Can you be friends with former pupils?

Sarah, West Sussex

A: It is important you maintain a degree of distance. You do not want any allegations made against you. You are there as a role model and, of course, you will care about your pupils, but you could quite easily put yourself in a vulnerable situation here.

John, Middlesex

A: I keep in touch with some former pupils - at their instigation. We meet for coffee occasionally, text occasionally, and I see some out clubbing sometimes. Some email me and I reply, but I always use the school address and keep a log, just in case. Pupils starting university are special young people and it was fab seeing former pupils at a couple of 18th birthday parties.

Boo, Walkley

A: Why not? After all, you may require their expertise in the future, when they're a doctor, mechanic, fellow teacher or, worse, your new head of department. It might not be wise to be out drinking with them the week after their A-levels, though

Fred, Carmarthen

Coming up

Q: I have a particularly immature boy in my Year 6 class who sucks his thumb almost constantly. I've started to discourage it but can't help feeling like a dragon when I do. How should I deal with this?

Q: A senior member of staff occasionally takes a dislike to a pupil, for no apparent reason, and undermines their confidence, sitting them with disruptive pupils, ignoring them and criticising their ideas. This is seriously damaging the work of two pupils, but the teacher in question refuses to discuss it. What can I do?

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