Journalist and Writer
Hilary Wilce specialising in all aspects of education
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The Quandary - 01 Nov 2007

My daughter says her teachers are as good as those winning Teaching Awards. Why have these awards? We donít for doctors and nurses.

Hillary's Advice

Actually youíre wrong. Someone, as you read this, is in the process of setting up a new nursing award, and there is at least one national award for doctors. Of course, as your daughter points out, such things are, essentially, absurd. No-one can really be the best primary teacher in the country, or the best school governor. There are too many different ways of doing these complex jobs. Also jobs in schools are so much a matter of teamwork that you couldnít possibly wave aloft, say, a top head award, or the trophy for being the best newcomer to the profession, without paying tribute to the mentors and colleagues who have helped you win it.

Having said that, there are thousands of mediocre teachers and not that many outstanding ones. So if highlighting the achievements of those who go that extra mile helps to inspire others, then a system of national awards is definitely worthwhile. It also means that, for a short time each year, the media is given a massive shove in the direction of reporting some good things about schools, instead of the endless bad things that -- unfairly -- dominate education reporting the rest of the time.
If your daughterís teachers are as good as those she saw on television. Well, great. Tell her to put them in for next yearís awards. The more good teachers that are put forward, the more the awards will a celebration of the best of the best.