Televised awards for best teachers

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The Independent Online
SIX-HUNDRED of Britain's best teachers will be rewarded in a new pounds 3m national awards scheme to be featured on prime-time television.

Lord Puttnam, the Oscar-winning film producer behind the scheme, said the televised regional and national ceremonies would rival the attraction of the BBC's Young Musician of the Year. The broadcasts, by the BBC, will include documentaries about each finalist.

Lord Puttnam, a member of the Government's Education Standards Task Force, devised the scheme as a way of raising teachers' status at a time when applications to teacher training are falling. Lloyds TSB bank is supplying the cash prizes. Money will go to the school but the successful teachers will have a say in how it is spent.

David Blunkett, the Secretary of State for Education, backed the scheme, which has the support of all political parties and the six main teaching unions. He said: "These awards will ensure that people who are giving of themselves to young people every day are given in return the status and esteem they deserve."

Schools, governors and parents will be asked to submit nominations for 15 categories including best new teacher, primary and secondary teachers of the year, a lifetime achievement award and awards for teachers of children with special educational needs.

Four finalists from each category will compete for 10 regional awards and the regional winner will be in the national final in September 1999. The chairman of the judging panel will be Sir John Harvey-Jones, the former chairman of ICI.

"No one here is pretending that these awards are the single answer to ending years of real neglect of teachers' work," Lord Puttnam said. "But it is a beginning - most certainly the beginning of the end."

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