Chalk talk: Brilliant teachers wanted – but anyone will do

The teaching awards – the "Oscars" of the teaching profession – will be upon us again later this month. It's when teachers take centre stage as celebrities in their own right, and declare from the stage of a famous London theatre: "This has been a team effort." A timely reminder, then, in a new book co-authored by John Bangs, former head of education at the National Union of Teachers, that the whole thing nearly did not get off the ground.

Initially, David Blunkett, the then education secretary, said the awards could only go ahead if there were 1,000 nominations for them. David (Lord) Puttnam, who took charge of the awards, managed to beat him down to 800. However, the night before the deadline expired he counted only 796 applications.

Fortunately, he and the then chief executive of the awards, Caroline Taylor, could remember eight teachers they knew and nominated them, and thus the awards were given the green light. "Luckily," Lord Puttnam recalls, "none of them won."

* The same book shows how officials nearly drove a spin doctor mad. Labour had legislated to outlaw classes of more than 30 for five-year-olds, so imagine the look of horror on the face of Conor Ryan, David Blunkett's special adviser, when officials presented him with statistics showing there were still many classes with more than 40 pupils.

Actually, it wasn't horror, really. Ryan was convinced they were wrong and asked them to recheck the figures.

"Sheepishly, they came back a few days later and said, well actually, it seems that, at schools on the day of the census, there were a few classes sitting together watching a movie, or having an assembly, and these were counted in the data," he recalls. Having an assembly? He's lucky he wasn't faced with having to defend class sizes of 110 to the media.

* So farewell then to Isabel Nisbet, chief executive of Ofqual. Not many public body heads seem to have either survived the arrival of the Coalition Government or wanted to serve it. Ms Nisbet will be taking on the role of senior education adviser for the Asia Pacific region at the University of Cambridge International Examinations board, and will be based in Asia. Sorry, Isabel, but it doesn't quite have the ring of a massive professional advancement about it. Maybe, however, it's all a question of location, location, location.

Her departure follows those of former Ofqual chair Kathleen Tattersall, and the former head of the soon-to-be defunct Qualifications and Curriculum Development Authority, Andrew Hall, who quit to head the biggest exam board, the Assessment and Qualification Alliance, before the election result was known.

And then there is the anticipated departure next year of Christine Gilbert as head of Ofsted, the education standards watchdog. Will the last public servant to leave please turn out the lights?

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs Education

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Linux ...

Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrator - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £50000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Linux Systems Administrat...

Recruitment Genius: Nursery Manager

£21000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Nursery Manager is required t...

Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windows, Linux - Central London

£40000 - £48000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Systems Engineer - Windo...

Day In a Page

'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Russell Brand's interview with Ed Miliband has got everyone talking about The Trews

Everyone is talking about The Trews

Russell Brand's 'true news' videos attract millions of viewers. But today's 'Milibrand' interview introduced his resolutely amateurish style to a whole new crowd
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before
'Queer saint' Peter Watson left his mark on British culture by bankrolling artworld giants

'Queer saint' who bankrolled artworld giants

British culture owes a huge debt to Peter Watson, says Michael Prodger
Pushkin Prizes: Unusual exchange programme aims to bring countries together through culture

Pushkin Prizes brings countries together

Ten Scottish schoolchildren and their Russian peers attended a creative writing workshop in the Highlands this week
14 best kids' hoodies

14 best kids' hoodies

Don't get caught out by that wind on the beach. Zip them up in a lightweight top to see them through summer to autumn
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The acceptable face of the Emirates

The acceptable face of the Emirates

Has Abu Dhabi found a way to blend petrodollars with principles, asks Robert Fisk