The Teaching Awards

22 Oct 2008

 I was at The Teaching Awards on Sunday. Once again it was an uplifting and, at times, moving event. It is 10 years old now and has come a long way. 

When the idea was first suggested to government by Lord Putnam senior officials in the education department dismissed it as just another interesting  - but unfeasible - notion. But Lord Putnam had the energy, and the contacts, to push it through.

 Initially many teachers were quite hostile to the idea. They objected to the idea that half a dozen or so teachers could be picked out and identified as the best. Like the proposals at the same time for Performance Related Pay, they saw the suggestion as divisive and as a threat to teamwork in schools. 

They have, I believe, been proved wrong. Of course, choosing a few winners from 500,000 teachers is hardly an exact science. Indeed every winner at the awards ceremony said - without false modesty - that they were only there on behalf of many other teachers in their schools.

But the point about the awards is that they give a focus for celebrating the achievement of teachers. It is a once-a-year chance to show to the wider public what a difference a good teacher or head teacher (or, for that matter, a good teaching assistant or governor) can make to children. 

The politically correct brigade would have stopped there being individual winners. They also opposed the glitziness and show-biz trappings. But the Teaching Awards people knew this was essential to keep the ceremony on BBC Television.

I have been a judge a couple of times and it is something every cynical old journalist should do. A great teacher in full flight in the classroom is a wonderful thing to see.  It does not make headline news so a once a year celebration like this is entirely justified.

Long may it last.


User Comments

John Morrison - 28 Nov 2008

The Teaching Awards

Showcasing great teaching is worthwhile and important, mainly because the public needs to regularly see lots of good examples of great teaching. But what should be celebrated is multiple examples of great teaching. Maybe people awards are the only way to get it on BBC, but the critics do have a point. There aren't a few great teachers, there are many examples of great teaching going on every day. And that really is worth celebrating.

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