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Sour grapes at teacher's award

Scots have mastered the art of the put-down - and none more so, it would appear, than Scottish teachers when one of their number is given a national award. Susan Ward, chosen as the UK's most outstanding new teacher at the Teaching Awards ceremony in London this week, has found herself castigated on The TESS website by colleagues. Comments ran along the lines of: "What's she doing that's so special?" and "Best teacher awards just create division and make all the other teachers feel bad because they haven't won anything".

Of course, it's impossible to say that Susan Ward was the best probationer last year. She makes no claim to be. Nor does she pretend to have invented the use of puppetry and music to motivate her pupils' learning. But, as her headteacher says, she is highly motivated, very effective, and a shining example of what's good in Scottish education.

Next week, American psychologist Martin Seligman will be telling Scottish teachers how he thinks they can boost the confidence and resilience of their pupils without falling into the trap of raising their self-esteem so high that they can't cope with adversity. Teachers' confidence needs to be boosted, too, however. Maybe the "tall poppy" syndrome, so prevalent in Scotland, would hold less sway if more teachers had the confidence to hold their own heads high.

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