30th November 2007 at 00:00
Q: Our sixth formers are full of ideas for extracurricular activities - but unless a teacher takes overall responsibility for a project, the initiative soon fizzles and dies. How do you create a culture of "stickability" and ownership?

Sara, Essex

A: The time spent in the sixth form is an ideal opportunity to try new things and develop interests that might be sustained for years to come.

It's well worth getting this right - it can also showcase the school as a community.

Get students operating as independently as possible. One of the barriers to this is often the staff, who might moan about their involvement in after-school activities, but sometimes love to take over. So before looking at the kids, look at your colleagues. Malcolm, Ebbw Vale

A: You identify a real challenge. After all, school is supposed to be about enrichment, and for older pupils, a lot of this should be self-directed. I think the key might be to identify pupils who are keen and energetic.

But, and this is crucial, you have to support something that they come up with - even if it is a bit high risk or costly. You need something - almost anything - to kick-start the whole process. Pat, Brighton

A: I would opt for a developmental approach, with a gradual hand-over of responsibilities. You could do worse than begin this process by identifying key sixth formers who are up for the challenge. One incentive would be the enhancement such a responsibility would bring to their UCAS reference Richard, West Sussex

Coming up

Q: Since the word "satisfactory" following an inspection now seems to mean the complete opposite where schools are concerned, isn't it time to reassess these judgments and have just two categories: "Good enough" and "Not good enough"? I'm sure it would save a great deal of post Ofsted gloom found in every school deemed "satisfactory".

Q: A couple of my teaching assistants either look like ladies of the night or are in weekend denim mode. I'm struggling to find the words to draw people's attention to it again on Monday - should we introduce a dress code as part of the code of conduct?

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