Having been involved in the evolution of this project, I wondered whether I might clarify a couple of points.
Last year, I had the privilege of joining the Government's education standards task force - a remarkable and well-informed body, principally because more than half its members are practising teachers. It was within this forum that The 1999 Teaching Awards were born.
Over the past year, the scheme has been developed, and many people and organisations have offered their support. The awards now enjoy the wholehearted endorsement of all three political parties and the six English teaching unions. This is not a Government scheme, but is an independent initiative, which I genuinely believe is here to stay.
The 1999 Teaching Awards are administered by The Teaching Awards Trust, a registered charity which has been set up specifically for this purpose.
Funded entirely through private sponsorship, primarily through the generosity of the Lloyds TSB Group, the awards will set out to celebrate best teaching practice throughout England.
The 1999 Teaching Awards will have the effect of bringing substantial additional sums of money into schools - money that would not otherwise have gone into education.
As well as this, the initiative will, we hope, bring a whole new public awareness to the work undertaken by teachers.
With awards being made to 600 teachers, this is the widest ever teacher recognition initiative to be undertaken in this country - one which would not be possible without the support and involvement of the entire education community.
Let's be quite clear - awards won't change the world for teachers, but they may go some small way towards recognising the way in which teachers often change the world for others.
And while the awards will honour individual achievement, it is the belief of the Teaching Awards Trust that in identifying such an individual, a celebration of the whole school will inevitably follow.
That's why the awards - up to Pounds 20,000 - will be given to schools, to be spent in whatever manner the winning teacher chooses.
Chairs of governors are responsible for canvassing the opinion of the school community, and submitting their nomination.
Every school in England has now received a nomination pack, with full details of how to get involved. It's time we started to recognise that although continuous improvement is going to be critical for our future survival as a nation and as individuals, we've got a lot to shout about right now.
Lord Puttnam, Chair, The Teaching Awards Trust, Southbank House, Black Prince Road, London SE1