Best Practice

The fear of physical touch: A new teacher's nightmare

Why is the fear of physical contact with pupils such a nightmare for new teachers? Alan Newland argues it needn’t be – and urges the revival of the maxim ‘in loco parentis’ as our guiding principle


If you are a new teacher trying to settle into your new school it may be beginning to dawn on you that not everything you were told on your training course converts seamlessly to what happens in school.

In my experience working with new teachers, this is particularly true of the legal responsibilities and indeed the legal authorities that teachers are expected to exercise from day one on the job.

Defining a teacher’s legal responsibilities and authorities is rarely dealt with adequately on training courses, leaving new teachers often uncertain about what they must and must not do, the distinction between “duties” and “powers”, or what the differences are between what the law authorises on the one hand and what school policies decree on the other.

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