Sue Hackman has been a teacher, inspector, adviser and well-known writer for schools. She was the Chief Adviser on School Standards to several Secretaries of State at the DfE between 2006-2013. Here she shares her thoughts to give help to the 'footsore profession'.
My feet didn't like it when I walked into teaching. I spent most of my childhood with blisters, aching shins and ill-fitting shoes. My mother bought shoes from the market because we couldn't afford shop shoes, and ever since, shoe-shopping has been one of my nightmares.
Hours on my feet in the classroom followed by hours bent over a desk made me a footsore teacher with backache. Someone did, in the end, tell me to walk around more, shift weight, buy flatter shoes, stand up straight and spend money on soft leather. It was good advice.
I still spend hours on my feet and far too much money on soft Italian leather, but all that is changing since a friend told me to visit Hotter.
I discovered that Hotter have made it their business to create a perfect fit, a plush cushioned sole and soft breathable leather uppers. They are not ashamed of comfort. You buy these shoes because they fit and they feel good.
I went home with Antoinette, a pair of smart black shoes for work. This suede shoe has a modest heel and a slightly open front for moving around easily. I knew within a millisecond that I had to have this pair and they cost half the price of the shoes I was wearing when I walked in. Comfortable does not mean fashion-free: the patent leather band gives it a bit of class. I celebrated by buying myself a matching handbag.
I couldn't stop there. I also took home a pair of flat slip-on white pumps called Jewel for everyday use. They look smart enough to go with dresses and white shirts but easy enough to wear around the house and garden.
It helps that the service is attentive but not pushy, so you can take time to make a decision, and they take pride in getting you the right fit. Incidentally, I noticed that all the assistants in the shop were wearing their own brand of shoe, and that says something in another profession that spends all day on its feet!
I would say, go in and try the shoes on because they look different when you get them on. Try on a few pairs: the black shoes were my third choice, and looked more sophisticated on than off. The shoes hug your feet and look more natural on than you expect. But it's the soft fit that won me over; I have promised myself that I shall never wear an ill-fitting shoe ever again. I wish I'd known about this service years ago, and I will be going back. I recommend it to anyone who spends their career standing up.
IN A NUTSHELL
When you stand still, distribute your weight equally between your feet
For relief, shift your weight from time to time
Move around more in the classroom
Stand up straight as if you were being pulled upwards from the top of your head
Pull your shoulders back and let you shoulder blades fall back
Mix sitting and moving
Choose low or no heels for the classroom
Never buy shoes that don't feel comfortable in the shop, and don't feel rushed to a quick decision
Choose leather or soft materials in the upper that will shape itself to your foot and your movements
Choose breathable uppers or shoes with vents
Look for cushioned soles for greater comfort
Get someone to measure your feet to make sure you are buying the correct foot size. As you get older, your feet can get wider and longer
Buy for the new season - overheating in summer and exposure in winter ruins your toes (and I know!)