Marking time before awards

25th July 2008 at 01:00

The wisdom of Henry Walpole

You may have missed it, but the Teaching Awards 2008 have started. The conversation in the queue at my local co-op mysteriously continues to focus on who glassed who at the local pub on Friday night rather than who has been nominated for Special Needs Teacher of the Year. The bunting has yet to appear over local streets. Even Heat magazine seems to by shying away from updates on the dieting and sunbathing exploits of the nominated hopefuls.

The awards go on for so long they make Masterchef look like a brief competition. They started with events in June and continue with ceremonies around the country until the finals in October. Shouldn't these people be marking books or something? At this rate, schools may even have their Sats results before the winners are announced.

I am disappointed again not to have been nominated in the Most Cynical Teacher category, but I realise the bulk of secondary school geography departments harbour individuals who make my views look like a National College for School Leadership keynote speech.

This is my final column for this back page slot in The TES so, as a parting gesture, I present the second and last Henry Walpole Awards for Teaching:

Headteacher of the Year: Anybody who has ever emptied a Department for Children, Schools and Families' envelope straight into the nearest bin, sat through a productive meeting with a school improvement partner or silently wished the mothers on your local estate would switch from crack to cannabis to give you a quieter life. We salute you all.

Teacher of the Year: Anybody who actually does this job five days a week without moonlighting, running seminars on inspirational leadership. All who come to work, teach some lessons, mark some books and see it as a job rather than some quasi-religious mission.

Reform of the Year: Further expansion of faith schools. They can set their own admission criteria and they get better exam results. Hmmm . it must be down to the excellent teaching and well-known ability of religion to foster inquiry and thoughtful and reflective learning. Can we really have state-funded schools in the 21st century where the head can check how often you've been to mass? Apparently yes.

Cliched Staffroom Moan of the Year: "Social life? I was up until midnight marking books last night!" Runner-up: "But reception can't do that - it will take them forever".

Educational "Eureka" Moment of the Year: "We'll get all the Sats markers to enter their results online. Teachers and complicated computer systems - what could possibly go wrong?"

To every winner, a box of chocolate sea shells and a bronze statue of the NCSL HQ with a breakdown of the building and running costs printed on the base. Have a lovely break all of you and if you feel an irrational urge to go and check your classroom layout over the summer, please don't. No one will thank you for it.

Henry's previous columns

The school transfer market

Teachers and their love-hate relationship with computers

The dull task of report writing

The enigma of teacher dress codes

Turning a school around for Ofsted

Forget exclusion, give ejection a go

My career tip: don't grow up

Henry's teachers' wishlist

Primary school uniforms


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