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Stars shine for teachers' status;Leading Article;Opinion

Much of the eating at the star-studded dinner which followed the Teaching Awards was not of saumon-en-crote, but of words. That the event happened at all was thanks to one man. Lord Puttnam's personal vision - of a celebration of the best of the good - proved irresistible to the BBC, sponsors, politicians, celebrities and teachers' leaders.

As the show started, some scepticism remained. But the most curmudgeonly of souls who witnessed the awards at Alexandra Palace seemed to be won over - not by glitz but by the unprecedented outpourings of goodwill towards the profession and the obvious pride, pleasure and modest dignity of those receiving awards.

The argument that to celebrate individual achievement is divisive, or that it somehow diminishes teamwork, is a slander on the profession. It implies an immature "collegiality" based on envy and lack of confidence rather than generous acknowledgement of the efforts and achievements of others.

No doubt every teacher could think of other ways to spend the millions devoted to the awards, not least on salaries. But last Sunday's ceremony raised the status of teachers and teaching - and made increased investment far more likely.

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