11th April 2008 at 01:00
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?

Debbie, Manchester

A: Exercise caution before doing anything drastic. Are you absolutely sure that heshe has no objective grounds on which to take this action? Have you got access to all the evidence on which a professional judgement might be made? Is the sanction that the colleague is giving wholly inappropriate and malicious? These are questions that need answering before you take this matter further. It's not just the pupils' futures that might be on the line.

Rod, Middlesex

A: This is unacceptable and must not be allowed to continue, so please report it to someone who can take immediate action. You say this is seriously damaging the work of two pupils but, more importantly, what about the negative impact on their emotional literacy? We should be building trusting relationships and raising pupils' self-esteem, instead of trying to destroy it.

John, Cumbria

A: This sounds like appalling behaviour. It appears that the member of staff concerned is beyond persuasion and sanctions should be deployed. I'm tempted to suggest that heshe be required to sit next to disruptive staff members. I'm afraid this could be a classic case of standing up to a bully.

Chris, Sutton


Q: Are governors of a school under any obligation to reserve a seat on the board for a teacher representing the rank-and-file staff? Otherwise, governors will only be made aware of the viewpoints of the senior management and will be unaware of the concerns and state of morale of teachers.

Q: Will the fact that I'm teaching maths at secondary level, despite having only done a psychology degree, affect relations between myself and other colleagues in my department? Will they have less respect for me for having done a "softer" subject?

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