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Tips of the trade

IN ANY workplace, you need to establish good working relationships with colleagues. This is definitely the case in schools where one relies so much on others. But there are several areas that can lead to friction between staff if they are ignored.

In some schools, there is a very territorial approach to life in the staffroom. The comfy chair in the corner may be favoured by Mrs Jones and the delicate china teacup by Mr Smith. To avoid treading on others' toes, it's best to observe such rituals and to ask someone before you use anything.

If you're new to a school, find out who is responsible for collecting tea money, supplying biscuits and washing cups. You could win a new friend by being the first to pay into the kitty at the start of term and by washing up your own cup.

Don't go in like a bull in a china shop with changes. If you have an idea about how things should be done, it's worth mentioning this informally to colleagues before you try to impress the headteacher. This way you can judge publicopinion and your colleagues may be able to point out any pitfalls. If they agree with you, you will have a stronger case when you do finally approach the head.

Your teaching colleagues can be a great source of support and advice. Getting to know them and being accepted will pay dividends in the long run, not only professionally but on a personal level.

Elizabeth Johnson We pay for all tips we use. E-mail yours to susan.young

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