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Film guru's image advice

FROM Hollywood to Llandudno, the glittering career of Oscar-winning film producer David Puttnam has no bounds.

The man responsible for Chariots of Fire and The Killing Fields chose to unveil his first film, since retiring from the business nine years ago, to NASUWT members at their conference at the Welsh resort.

The man since drafted in to improve the image of the teaching profession then showed that he has a long history of employing negative images of the profession in his own movies.

Lord Puttnam's world premier was a series of clips from his films, Melody, The War of the Buttons, P'Tang-Yang-Kipperbang and Glory Days - portraying school masters and mistresses as ranting child haters, sending the delegates into frequent gales of laughter.

But the serious message to conference was that the profession had to take a more enlightened view of the way it presented itself.

Lord Puttnam, also chairman of the General Teaching Council, said: "The vast majority of teachers have the gratitude of many parents. But teachers as a general institution are often regarded as whingers rather than winners, Mr Chips rather than microchips and more about long holdays than long hours."

In a dig at the antics at the National Union of Teachers, where delegates walked out and heckled schools minister Estelle Morris, Lord Puttnam claimed the excessive rhetoric of conference season gave a consultation-shy Government an excuse not to consult at all.

But he also blamed the media for teachers' poor public image. Delegates at the National Union of Teachers had been described by one paper as "noisy, scruffy, chippy, truculent and self-


Lord Puttnam said it was not true of the profession: "But three million people read it over their cornflakes and probably two million believed it."

He said the General Teaching Council would strive to secure

the privileges which went with the responsibilities which teachers shouldered every day.

But the conference was warned that the GTC risked being in serious conflict with teachers before it was even up and running.

Delegate Simon Whitney, from Norfolk, said some teachers were unconvinced :

"Teachers have not got confidence in the General Teaching Council and are still not convinced we actually need it

at all."

GTC elections, 12

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