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'Oscars' lose big backers

THE teaching "Oscars", designed to praise publicly Britain's teachers and raise the standing of the profession, appear to be losing their glitter, with the main sponsor and other prize-funders pulling out.

Lloyds TSB is not renewing its pound;3m sponsorship contract when the two year deal runs out in October leaving the Teaching Awards Trust searching for a backer.

The event, hosted for the first time last year by an array of celebrities, has already lost the backing of Camelot, Railtrack and book publishers Dorling Kindersley.

The Guardian newspaper is continuing to provide cash for individual prizes and has been joined this year by the Leadership Trust, a training company.

The regional winers of an Oscar, the brainchild of General Teaching Council chairman Lord Puttnam, are awarded pound;3,500 for their school and the national winners pound;20,000.

The awards are dependent on private funding. Although the idea is Government-backed, there has been no money from the Department for Education and Employment. A spokesman said the situation would be reviewed if the trust was unable to secure a sponsor.

The Teaching Awards Trust is now negotiating with three large blue-chip companies for sponsorship for 2001.

Nominations for the awards have increased from 1,000 in 1999 to 1,500 this year. The grand final at the Millennium Dome will be broadcast on prime-time BBC TV, on October 29.

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