14th December 2007 at 00:00
A couple of my teaching assistants look like ladies of the night or are in weekend denim mode. Should we introduce a dress code as part of the code of conduct?

Margaret, Manchester

A: Teaching assistants are professionals and should dress smartly. Dress options need to be tailored appropriately to reflect the range of activities that teaching assistants and all staff might be undertaking. Jeans may well be appropriate; lady of the night attire is not. A quiet word is usually all that it takes, especially with teaching assistants, as they fulfil an invaluable role for very little monetary reward.

Peter, Isle of Wight

A: Many teaching assistants have a larger than life personality and their dress code reflects this. They are a fantastic asset to school life so I would be very wary about addressing this issue directly and upsetting them, unless their clothes are totally over the top. Why not ask the pupils' opinion?

John, Cumbria

A: Imposing a strict uniform will mean the school having to budget for at least two changes of uniform for each member of staff and providing changing facilities for those who choose not to come to school wearing their uniform. It could be expensive.

Alternatively, discuss with the staff, as fellow professionals, what they regard as suitable, and draw up suitable guidelines.

Giles, Lincolnshire


Q: I recently started teaching at quite a rough city school and am struggling with the behaviour of many of my groups. They just won't shut up. One group said it was going to complain to the head. I've been very open with my head of department and she and the senior management have been supportive so far. Should I be worried?

Q: I watched a register taking technique in a primary school and wondered if it would be suitable for secondaries. The teacher didn't just say each pupil's name and get a "Here" in response. She said "Good afternoon, John" and they replied "Good afternoon, Miss". There are lots of ways you can improve relations with pupils, this might be one of them. Any thoughts?

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