18th January 2008 at 00:00

Our citizenship department and school council organisers arrange for pupils to go on school-sanctioned trips to protest and demonstrate on political issues. Is this ethical?

Laura, London

A: Citizenship is not rent-a-mob. Pupils are being exposed to one of the fundaments of a free and democratic society: the right of the citizenry to protest in a lawful fashion. If pupils are there as observers, then it is an important part of their civic education. If they are expected or encouraged to join in, I think this does cross the boundary of bad practice, unless they can be equally exposed to the arguments of the other side.

Linda, Worthing

A: While no one wants to see pupils force-fed with propaganda, you have to invest your colleagues with a certain amount of trust. The visits might be of value in that they show the process of protest rather than necessarily aligning with one side about the issues. Pupils should be well briefed that there are two sides to every argument and, in any case, many will have a natural resistance to being manipulated in any way, especially by their teachers.

Sue, East Grinstead

A: Determining whether your colleagues have crossed the boundary is never going to be clear-cut. Are the pupils going as observers or participants, or both? What learning objectives are being pursued? Activities such as this have the potential to enrich the learning experience, as the impact of being at a demonstration is always going to be far greater than mere discussion in the classroom.

Kevin, Cheltenham


Q: Do we need heads of year? In other European countries there is much less emphasis on pastoral care. If we do need them, should they do that job only and no teaching at all?

Q: A struggling pupil has got a private tutor who sets extra work that he and his parents seem to regard as a higher priority than his homework for me. The tutor approaches material in different ways, which is leading to confusion. Should I advise his parents to cease using the tutor?

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