21st September 2007 at 01:00
I am leader of the school council and recently discovered that a teacher in Year 3 routinely kept children in for 30 minutes of their lunch time for failing to achieve 10 out of 10 in a weekly maths test. The children are in a third set (out of four). Is this right? Nick, Kent

A Proceed with extreme caution. At the moment, the complaint against your colleague is unsubstantiated. Natural justice would suggest there is an opportunity to hear the other side of the case. How can you do this? You have no executive responsibility, and no remit for disciplinary action against staff. On the other hand, you cannot simply do nothing. For the sake of your staffroom credibility, you can't be seen as siding with the pupils. You have no alternative in these circumstances but to forward the minutes or notes of the meeting to the head or whoever has the managerial responsibility on such matters. Don't put too much pressure on yourself. Chris, Sutton

A Before you go in with all guns blazing and fire a broadside at your colleague, a word of caution. Pupils have been known to use a forum such as this to discredit a colleague who is unpopular. Do ascertain, in a sensitive fashion, the facts of the matter. Having done so, and once established that this is indeed what has been going on, then you will be doing your colleague a favour by having a quiet word that nips it in the bud. Mal, Ebbw Vale

A I am surprised that your colleague's dubious practice has been allowed to continue. Obviously, this is the first time it has come to light; thus, the school council is performing a valuable role in exposing the issue. You must act. This will affirm the whole purpose of a school council and pre-empt more serious complaints from parents. In taking action, you will not be exposing your fellow teacher, but protecting him or her. Rod, Middlesex

A This is not acceptable. Year 3 pupils are at a vulnerable age and their self-esteem can be seriously damaged by this sort of negative approach. Get the views of the school council I bet it will agree John, Wigton

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