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Fancy writing for The TES?

Then enter our competition for new teacher columnists. Adi Bloom reports

Teachers who see themselves as a classroom Julie Burchill, a staffroom Melanie Phillips or the next Ted Wragg are being invited to enter a competition to find a new TES columnist.

The TES is launching its second search for new teacher columnists, offering school staff a chance to vent their frustrations beyond the staffroom water-cooler.

Entrants are asked to match their sample columns to one of the existing slots in the paper. Would-be Ted Wraggs might compile a wry Last Word piece, while those with comic ambitions might write a Give Us A Break column.

Louisa Leaman won the first competition two years ago, for a column about her work with children with behavioural difficulties. "It's a dirty, dirty job," she wrote. "But someone's got to be stupid enough to do it."

She has since published three books on classroom management. "Writing has always been a pet ambition of mine," she said. "And teaching is such a stressful, diverse, unusual job, there's always something to write about."

Catherine Paver has written almost 20 columns for The TES, since her article about teaching Shakespeare to the mobile-phone generation was awarded runner-up prize in 2004. "Teaching can be like an absurdist play,"

she said. "You couldn't make up some of the dialogue you hear. Most newspapers tend to cover only the big, political picture. So it's nice to be able to tell classroom stories, too."

Writing can be therapeutic, she said: "It's a way of dealing with stress. I think if I didn't write these things down, I'd be sitting on a park bench muttering angrily to myself."

Entries are invited from all staff, from headteachers to teaching assistants. The winner will be given a cash prize of pound;500, and five runners-up will receive pound;100 each.

Jeremy Sutcliffe, TES opinion editor, said: "Our winner might be deadly serious, wildly funny or both. We're looking for someone who can articulate the joy and frustration of working in real schools and colleges."

Closing date for entries is May 2. To enter and for tips on column-writing, go to www.tes.co.uk

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