Let's bring honours up to date

Tes Editorial

Congratulations to headteacher David Newsome and Ernest Watkins, chair of governors (page 1).

Both received honours in the Queen's New Year's Honours List, the only two awarded for services to education in Wales.

But there are some who would say their individual teachers should not be rewarded in this way.

Even Mr Newsome, a much-deserved OBE recipient, says he is uneasy over his gong, believing his personal achievements to be the result of a team effort.

There are many who say the honours system needs to be overhauled, branding it archaic and filled with corruption following the "cash for honours" scandal that tainted Tony Blair's premiership.

Last year, there was a drive to secure more nominations from the regions, and more from the professional grassroots.

But, there were fewer honours this year than last - and it seems a trip to the palace is no longer the dream day out it used to be.

It was telling when double gold-winning Paralympian Ellie Simmonds, the youngest recipient of an MBE at 14 in history, expressed more delight at a planned trip to view a collection of shoes and handbags by French fashion designer Louis Vuitton than meeting the Queen. To a majority of the younger generation the honours system must be seen as old hat.

In education, there has always been a tendency to play down personal achievement. Most teachers would rather see their pupils rewarded, and this is understandable.

But Phil Dixon, director of the teaching union ATL Cymru, believes they should be less bashful. He also says the honours should be bestowed closer to home, with less pomp, but with greater meaning.

In Scotland, there are moves to the Order of Scotland, why not an Order of Wales?

And, for those in the teaching profession who believe in teams - not individual success - there are always the TES Schools' Awards 2009.

The awards recognise schools, not individual teaching achievement, and the event is a fantastic opportunity for school communities to be rewarded. The closing date for entries is February 20.

Log on to the TES Cymru website www.tes.co.ukcymru for more details.

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