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When a name spells trouble

TES website sparks cyber-squabble about stereotyping naughty children. Simon Atkinson reports.

Poppys are hyperactive, Kayleighs are a pain, and Ryans are almost always an uphill struggle.

That, apparently, is the opinion of teachers as they look at their new class registers. But the lighthearted comments on The TES website have got teachers and parents embroiled in a cyber-squabble.

In a 20-page discussion on The TES website, teachers listed the names they associated with problematic pupils and charming children.

It began when one teacher wrote: "I went through my new class list and mentally circled the ones I thought would be difficult. I reckon I have a 75 per cent hit rate..."

Other teachers joined in contributing the names that fill them with dread (and occasionally optimism) for the year ahead.

But news of the "slight" soon spread to the chat forum of another website,, designed for mothers where discussions more commonly centre on pregnancy and nappies. And while most users took it in good part some launched tirades, criticising teachers and even writing to the Government and to newspapers complaining their children were being labelled and prejudged.

"I was appalled by what they were saying. I don't think it's nice," said ShabanaM, a user. "It's disrespectful to put it on a public forum. If it is on a public forum then we are entitled to complain about it."

One mother contacted the Department for Education and Skills, saying: "I and many other parents are disgusted by the attitudes of the teachers on the forum. I realise this is a small number of teachers, but they have taken time out of their day to post these comments and I presume... they actually mean what they are saying."

One TES site user, using the sign-in name "Notimpressed" said: "I'm appalled... as teachers you shouldn't be doing this. It's verging on bullying. If this is what my children will face when they start school, then I might as well home educate."

The NASUWT teachers' union said that websites were not an appropriate forum to pass comment on pupils or teachers.

Some parents on the site though sympathised with the teachers.

"I have worked in child care for a few years. I think once you have met a horror child with a certain name it does stick in your head."

Another admitted that similar logic influenced what she called her child.

"I went through the baby book and crossed out names that I associated with horrible people. My husband did the same and it only left us with a few!"


The ones to watch?

TES website users linked troublesome pupils with:

* Names with a hyphen eg Bobbi-Jo; * Ordinary names with "weird" spelling - eg K'tee, Kloe; * Jordan, Jorden or Jordon.

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