QA. Ask a teacher

12th January 2007 at 00:00
A senior teacher is unhappy because I advised a pupil, who wants to be a doctor, to apply to a local selective sixth form college rather than our own standard mixed comprehensive sixth form. Is the good of the pupil or the school more important?

Sam, Bridlington

A Your senior colleague has done you no favours by giving you a guilt-trip.

You have not breached any disciplinary protocol, but you might have "broken ranks" on this issue.

Perhaps the best thing is to bring this out in the open and suggest that the school should have a policy on this.

I suspect that nobody would want to put their name to a policy steering students away from what is best for them, and consequently there would be more acceptance that staff are free to act as "honest brokers" on such matters.

Mal, Gwent

A You have clearly touched a raw nerve by recommending that your pupil should switch to a rival college.

As an employee you owe your employer (and colleagues) a duty of loyalty.

But as a professional, your overriding loyalty is to your pupil. If you acted in good faith, you have no need to feel guilty.

John, Worthing

A I am not surprised your senior colleague was miffed. Your advice is, in effect, a vote of no confidence in your colleagues and your school - sending out the message that your school's provision is second-rate.

Even if the pupil's interests were (in your opinion) better served by swapping providers, you should have swerved the question, with the diplomatic response that the student should undertake research him or herself.

Rod, London

A In my experience in the last few years there have been some examples of students from "good" sixth forms not being given offers, while their friends from lower achieving schools have been made offers, even though their grades were lower.

Billy, Northants

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