Education Quandary: 'My teaching mentor at school is always criticising me and talking to me as if I'm an idiot. What can I do?'

Hilary's advice

As a newly qualified teacher, you will be in the middle of your year under an induction tutor, which you will need to complete successfully to teach in England. And it is not uncommon for this delicate relationship to go wrong, although your problems sound particularly bad.

Your tutor should be supporting and helping you, not undermining and criticising you, so if this is what is happening, you must take action. But remember; you are a professional now and you need to deal with problems in a professional way. Whining and moaning to colleagues is neither a good nor a productive way forward.

First, ask yourself whether the situation really is as bad as you say. Newly qualified teachers can feel vulnerable and oversensitive, and it could be that you are reading too much into your tutor's manner. If you feel brave, speak to your tutor about this and ask if the two of you can sort the issue out. If you don't think you can do this, ask to see your head. Note down precise instances. Be calm and reasonable as you explain them. If you're concerned this may rebound on you, remember that you have a right to expect a certain standard of help and support from your tutor, who may have received specialist training in how to provide it. New, young teachers are often scared that complaining will harm their careers, but showing you expect high standards should not reflect badly on you.

Readers' advice

Being criticised in public and talked to like an idiot amounts to workplace bullying. Go straight to your union rep and ask their advice. In my experience, this sort of thing happens quite a lot. There are too many small-minded people in schools who see newly qualified teachers as fair game.

Jo Pierce, Derbyshire

Point out to your tutor what he or she is doing. Say things such as: "I feel this is a personal matter. Could we talk about it in private?" Or: "I'm sorry, but I really would rather you didn't speak to me like that." Bullies almost always back down when they see that the person they are bullying is not intimidated. Think of it as providing a good role model for your pupils. Good luck.

Heather Welland, Buckinghamshire

I, too, was unhappy with my induction year. I felt I was given no support or help whatsoever. My tutor cancelled meetings, and brushed aside questions as if they were too trivial to deal with. In the end, because I was getting nowhere with the school, I complained to the local authority. I was really worried that this would backfire on me, but the school did not dare fail me. And now I can see from my current school, where new teachers are given every encouragement, that I was right to do what I did for teachers coming in after me.

Dee McIntyre, London NW6

Next Week's Quandary

I want promotion, but I wonder if I've got what it takes to be a good school head. I know what sort of school I'd create and feel sure I could do it if I was left alone, but I'm worried about whether I would be strong enough to hold to my vision against the constant government interference.

Send your replies, or any quandaries you would like to have addressed, to h.wilce@btinternet. com. Please include your postal address. Readers whose replies are printed will receive a Collins Paperback English Dictionary 5th Edition. Previous quandaries are online at www.hilarywilce.com where they can be searched by topic.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Imperial College London: Safety Training Administrator

£25,880 – £28,610 per annum: Imperial College London: Imperial College London ...

University College London: Client Platform Support Officer

£26,976 - £31,614 per annum: University College London: UCL Information Servic...

Guru Careers: Instructional Designer / e-Learning Designer

£30 - 32k (DOE): Guru Careers: We are seeking an Instructional / e-Learning De...

Recruitment Genius: Schools Education & Careers Executive

£30500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Schools Education & Careers Executive ...

Day In a Page

The saffron censorship that governs India: Why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression

The saffron censorship that governs India

Zareer Masani reveals why national pride and religious sentiment trump freedom of expression
Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Prince Charles' 'black spider' letters to be published 'within weeks'

Supreme Court rules Dominic Grieve's ministerial veto was invalid
Distressed Zayn Malik fans are cutting themselves - how did fandom get so dark?

How did fandom get so dark?

Grief over Zayn Malik's exit from One Direction seemed amusing until stories of mass 'cutting' emerged. Experts tell Gillian Orr the distress is real, and the girls need support
The galaxy collisions that shed light on unseen parallel Universe

The cosmic collisions that have shed light on unseen parallel Universe

Dark matter study gives scientists insight into mystery of space
The Swedes are adding a gender-neutral pronoun to their dictionary

Swedes introduce gender-neutral pronoun

Why, asks Simon Usborne, must English still struggle awkwardly with the likes of 's/he' and 'they'?
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan

Disney's mega money-making formula

'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Lobster has gone mainstream with supermarket bargains for £10 or less - but is it any good?

Lobster has gone mainstream

Anthea Gerrie, raised on meaty specimens from the waters around Maine, reveals how to cook up an affordable feast
Easter 2015: 14 best decorations

14 best Easter decorations

Get into the Easter spirit with our pick of accessories, ornaments and tableware
Paul Scholes column: Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season

Paul Scholes column

Gareth Bale would be a perfect fit at Manchester United and could turn them into serious title contenders next season
Inside the Kansas greenhouses where Monsanto is 'playing God' with the future of the planet

The future of GM

The greenhouses where Monsanto 'plays God' with the future of the planet
Britain's mild winters could be numbered: why global warming is leaving UK chillier

Britain's mild winters could be numbered

Gulf Stream is slowing down faster than ever, scientists say
Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Government gives £250,000 to Independent appeal

Donation brings total raised by Homeless Veterans campaign to at least £1.25m
Oh dear, the most borrowed book at Bank of England library doesn't inspire confidence

The most borrowed book at Bank of England library? Oh dear

The book's fifth edition is used for Edexcel exams
Cowslips vs honeysuckle: The hunt for the UK’s favourite wildflower

Cowslips vs honeysuckle

It's the hunt for UK’s favourite wildflower
Child abuse scandal: Did a botched blackmail attempt by South African intelligence help Cyril Smith escape justice?

Did a botched blackmail attempt help Cyril Smith escape justice?

A fresh twist reveals the Liberal MP was targeted by the notorious South African intelligence agency Boss