"It's your own time you're wasting."
Comedian and impressionist Rory Bremner, host of last week's TES Schools Awards prize-winners gala lunch, stood on the platform of the Ballroom at London's swanky Hilton hotel and waited for the raucous laughter to subside, an expression of mock severity on his face.
He was addressing over 700 teachers and VIPs from the world of education, gathered to honour the winners of the TES Schools Awards, now in their third year.
Outstanding teams in a host of categories from business partnerships to healthy eating, school websites, teaching resources, and literacy and numeracy initiatives had been whittled down to a shortlist by a team of distinguished judges.
Mr Bremner reminded the winners to overcome the urge to give long valedictory speeches - or as he put it, "collect your award and bugger off" - and the ceremony got off to a well-paced start.
One of the few individual honours - the Lifetime Achievement Award - went to Maureen Eastwood, who began her teaching career in 1959 and retired only last year, after more than half a century in the classroom. But even now she continues to volunteer at Ysgol Gwaenynog and remains an active member of its governing body.
The final award of the day to be announced was Overall Outstanding School of 2011. The winner was Perry Beeches School in Birmingham, where, over just three years, "Team PB", led by headteacher Liam Nolan, raised the proportion of pupils hitting the benchmark GCSE target from 21 per cent to 74 per cent. And last year, 100 per cent of pupils achieved five A*-Cs. It was also the most over-subscribed school in Birmingham.
As the hundreds in the hall rose to give `Team PB' a standing ovation, Mr Nolan clutched his award to his chest and, looking rather amazed, drank in the applause.