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Avoid bad photo opportunities. It was advice Tony Blair admitted should be drummed into politicians, after he appeared, red-faced, at the Specialist Schools and Academies Trust conference.

On his way into the Birmingham venue, a woman leapt from an office and asked to be photographed with him. He agreed, then asked what she did. "I work in a job search agency," she smiled. "I may be able to help you out soon."

Perhaps that explained why the Prime Minister was wearing his now famous "bad day" tie for what should have been a celebratory farewell speech to teachers.

It is the striped London Olympics tie (right) he wore after losing the education vote, battling the cash-for-peerages scandal, playing down Cabinet splits over Lebanon and his forced farewell speech to the Labour party conference.

The TES is not a big fan of men who use ties to express their insecurities.

But we are willing to make one exception. That is for David Harris, the headteacher of Serlby Park school in Doncaster, who confessed he had so many silly ties he never need wear the same one twice in six months.

He cut through the high-brow pedagogical theory at the conference with his focus on "fun" as a prime learning tool, which he illustrated by dressing for the formal dinner in a tie with a dial indicating he was in the mood for luurve.

His sense of fun gets results: his school's literacy scores have greatly improved over the past year.

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