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One of the curious features of teaching is its sense of public privacy.

People who work outside education don’t often see this. But if you are a teacher, or you have ever been a teacher, you will recognise what I mean. Even with a class of 30 or so young people sitting there in front of you, whether they are being compliant or challenging, there is often a feeling of being oddly on your own.

It is you, the adult in the room, and it is them, the pupils. Teaching – a role of public privacy.

At its best, this is quite liberating. When I started out as a rookie English teacher more than 30 years ago, it was in an era when people rarely watched you teach. If another adult came into your classroom, it was because they wanted to borrow a stick of chalk or ask how the Betamax video player worked.

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