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Dressed to impress?

89681172Does the way teachers dress reflect their teaching ability? It’s a subject that’s very close to home this morning – literally. The school whose teachers’ dress sense has been criticised by Ofsted and consequently scrutinised on the ITV news last night is where my daughter is busy finishing off her chemistry course work. I’ve got a huge soft spot for the school, which also steered her big sister through her GCSEs and A levels with great success and I spend three or four very happy years there on the PTA. So, yes, I am biased but honestly, I can’t ever recall seeing any particularly scruffy teachers there.

What Ofsted seems to have objected to is an “unprofessional” dress code, which they said was not instilling an appropriately aspirational ethos on their students. I think Ofsted is not only confusing aspiration with formality, but with frumpiness and age. Secondary school teachers, like policemen, get younger every year. Many of them are still in their 20s. They grew up in the era of Microsoft, Apple and Twitter not ICI and Cadbury Schweppes. Their heroes are not John Major but Steve Jobs, who wore the same style of black turtleneck throughout his career, and Bill Gates, whose understated T shirts and trainers belie the brain the size of a planet they support. If Ofsted took a closer a look at school teachers’ dress sense I think they would realise that teachers are not being scruffy, they are just dressing for their and our age. Besides surely it’s far more important that teachers are judged on their ability to inspire children to learn and whether or not they have that rarer talent for making them want to learn in the first place, rather than if they can put together an outfit that’ll get a nod of approval from the editor of Vogue? Ridiculous isn’t it!

Judging by the school gate and Twitter gossip, the consensus among parents is that Ofsted have shown themselves up for being embarrassingly out of touch, but that hasn’t stopped us all enjoying ourselves and emailing style tips to our favourite teachers. And it didn’t take long for the word to get round. When I took Katy to school this morning at the primary school round the corner the head was outside as usual welcoming students, wearing what appeared to be a new and very smart check jacket. “Just a coincidence,” he said blithely, pointing out that the bin man had already complimented him on looking quite smart, for a teacher.

Posted by Amanda Blinkhorn

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