Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Sir Michael Wilshaw, new Ofsted chief says scruffy teachers should set an example and dress professionally, image and presentation matters in public

Dear All

Image and presentation matter!

If you want people to take you seriously you have to look the part, that first impression counts.

The new head of Ofsted says scruffy teachers should be ordered to smarten up in the classroom.

By way of a dress code, teachers claim they are professionals, is it too much to ask that they dress the part?

I suspect most people would say yes they should.

Sir Michael Wilshaw, an inner city head becomes the Chief Inspector of Schools next month, said teachers should set an example and dress in a ‘professional’ manner.

Great minds think alike, he also believes whether inspectors should consider staff dress codes during inspections.

Sir Michael thinks it should be one of the criteria Ofsted looks at.


“I think it’s patronising to children for staff to dress poorly”.

When I taught in my youth, I was always dressed for the activity I was teaching, on time and prepared. My pupils had 100% confidence in me, but teaching isn’t simply looking the part, you have to know your subject as well as having the ability to put it across at a level that allows pupils to grasp the subject matter. In some cases you may have to repeat the same lesson again as people learn at different speeds.

Once they get the hook, they find their time in the learning experience more enjoyable.

Learning should be fun, but also disciplined.

Sir Michael’s intervention was welcomed by campaigners last night.

Nick Seaton, secretary of the Campaign for Real Education, said teachers should be banned from wearing jeans and T-shirts in the classroom.

It has been along time since I was at school and the idea of a teacher in jeans and T shirt certainly doesn’t convey the right image.

Another interesting point is that history and geography 'could become compulsory' to 16 in major shake-up of national curriculum, I would agree that to understand how to plan for the future you should have a grasp and working knowledge of the past, looking at mistakes of the past is a useful educational tool. I used a variation of this while teaching myself, by having trainees watch and analyse others and then engage in Q & A to develop understanding so that my pupils thought like instructors.

The ability to analyse is a key skill missing in education.

Nick Seaton adding:

“Teachers should be setting an example to young people for when they go into the world of work. That means they should look reasonably smart at work. Twenty or 30 years ago teachers wouldn’t have dreamed of going to school in scruffy clothes, but standards have slipped in some places.”

Sir Michael rightly says teachers patronise children by turning up to the classroom badly dressed and then expecting the pupils to keep to the uniform.

In his own school, Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, where he has achieved spectacular results, teachers were expected to wear ‘business-like’ clothes.

He added:

“Most good schools have a dress code for staff. It would be surprising if they didn’t. I am not very prescriptive but I’d make a judgement if someone came in here and was badly dressed. It’s the wrong message to give the children and think it patronises the children who are expected to turn up here in uniform.”

Sir Michael Wilshaw may turn out to be exactly what Ofsted and schools need, his ideas have considerable merit.

Michael Gove, English Minister for education talks about elitism being brought back to schools, that elitism should be available to all pupils to get the best possible start to life.

One thing, I said to a Russian friend of mine, Lana Soroka when I taught her was to analyse and consider options.

She is now a successful lawyer in London.

Yours sincerely

George Laird
The Campaign for Human Rights at Glasgow University

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