19th October 2007 at 01:00
Q: A member of the senior leadership group at my school has recruited spies to root out anyone bad-mouthing the school and members of staff. I am appalled this happens in a professional environment. What are my rights?

Margaret, Lincolnshire

A: This happens everywhere. What surprises me is in your letter you say the spies have been "recruited". It sounds a bit official, but if there's a problem in the school, people at the top level need to know, otherwise how can things be changed?

As for your rights - well, what are you afraid of? I assume your shock means you don't stoop to bad-mouthing others so you should not become part of it.

If you've been falsely accused, then take it up with your headteacher immediately and use the official channels for anything you disagree with.

Be the positive voice of your staffroom. In the end, you will gain respect from everyone in your school - though it may take a long time.

David, Essex

A: Get the union involved. Or tell the culprit face-to-face that you know what they are doing and you will personally spread gossip that they had to leave their previous position because they were found in an intimate position with the school caretaker.

Clive, Manchester

A: Get used to it. Many schools have toadies. It's not just schools; many offices have similar practices

Sean, London


Q: Do we give NQTs too much support these days? They are protected from so much. What happened to sink or swim, aka learning to teach through real experience?

Q: Where do we stand if a pupil takes a parental consent slip home and brings it back signed but, without our knowledge, has signed it himselfherself. What happens if we take them on a trip? We are not handwriting experts.

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