I was talking to my friend’s little sister this morning, aged 17, about her experience in her current sixth form on the Isle of Wight. Above other things, what specifically stood out about her conversation, was her annoyance at her sixth form teachers who were becoming increasingly informal with their pupils.

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Sixth form differs slightly from high/secondary school in your relationship with your teachers. In sixth form, you’re expected to behave like an adult, and maintain a more personal, adult-like relationship with your teachers, whereas in the lower-school, it is a lot more formal. However, does this “adult” relationship give room to unwanted informality? Is there a line of formality that should not be crossed by a student or teacher while still in school?

An incident my friend’s sister mentioned to me specifically, was when her music teacher had called her “autistic”after she asked a question about a film, prompting her music class to laugh at her. I don’t believe that his intention was to “bully” her, but to “joke” with her, however, in my opinion, this crossed a very important line of respect that both pupils and teachers should value and abide by within the classroom. Not only does calling a pupil “autistic” set a bad example for the rest of the class, in that name calling/labeling within school is okay, but also strongly reiterates the issue of informality within the classroom. In my opinion, a professional relationship should be maintained. Informal speech and behaviour, especially when used by teachers, is an excuse for rude or sloppy teaching behaviour. How does this behaviour reflect on the academic progress of students? What issues does this behaviour raise within the UK education system?

More importantly, what do you think? Is the increasing informality of teachers harmful, or just friendly? Should something be done to enforce a more formal environment? Do you think this behaviour can be related to poor academic progress?

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Emma