26th October 2007 at 01:00
Do we give new teachers too much support these days? They are protected from so much. What happened to "sink or swim", aka learning to teach through real experience? - Sara, Essex

A. The suggestion that "sink or swim" is an appropriate way in which to induct new colleagues would be laughable were it not so unprofessional. The questioner seems to suggest that "sink or swim" and "learning to teach through real experience" are entirely synonymous. They are not. Everything that a new teacher experiences is real, be it negative, positive or neutral. - Jeremy, Exeter

A. You make a valid and perceptive point. It's all very well to invest in the proper preparation of new teachers, but there comes a point where you simply cannot wrap them in cotton wool. Teaching is best learned on the job; coping strategies cannot always be coached. We need robust classroom practitioners who can get stuck in, not feather-bedded softies who can't look after themselves. - Kevin, Cheltenham

A. You've made an interesting point - although I'm not sure it will be a popular one. No one wants to see underprepared new entrants to the profession negligently dumped in the classroom, as in the bad old days. We don't want folk to drown, but neither should we do their swimming for them. So for me, it's a question of fine tuning - and deciding at what point we take away their water-wings - Rod, Middlesex

Coming up

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

Q: Our design and technology resources are insufficient, and the subject co-ordinator and I compiled a purchase order to replenish them, but she was concerned that this would blow a large chunk of her budget. I was amazed that this was a teacher's concern. Should the school budget for this?

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