4th April 2008 at 01:00
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. Should I continue to deter him?

Nick, Essex

A: Why is it a problem? I don't like seeing a Year 6 child suck their thumb but it is part of their security.

I twist my hair when I am needing a bit of comfort. Would you tell me to stop twisting my hair and encourage me to be anxious?

How many pupils go to the toilet and don't wash their hands and then touch the pencils? Germs are germs and they are all over the place. Thumb sucking won't make it any worse.

I don't see the point of chastising a child for something that is obviously a security measure for them.

Tonya, Lincolnshire

A: I've got a Year 5 girl who sucks her thumb and I ask her to stop. She doesn't seem to mind. It might be worth telling this boy that when he gets to secondary, he'll have to be more grown up. Why not wean him off the habit with simple rewards, such as stickers?

Jan, Leicestershire

A: If pupils suck on their thumb and then borrow one of your pencils with that hand, is that fine? What if they're in art class and suck on their thumb after a lesson involving paint? There are more practical reasons to discourage thumb sucking than mere maturity

Brenden, Australia


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?

Q: I have been given more responsibilities by my headteacher. I'm more than willing to take them on but they are time-consuming - developing links with schools abroad for every curriculum subject area. I have asked for a pay rise or more free time but did not get either. How do I make him see that I need and deserve it?

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