Phil Willis takes the hero honours

20th December 2002 at 00:00
PHIL Willis, the Liberal Democrats' education spokesman, is the teachers'

hero, according to TES website users. And former chief inspector Chris Woodhead is their chief villain.

When the online version of the TES ManWoman of the year poll closed at midday on Tuesday, Mr Willis had notched up 480 votes, 62 ahead of the favourite, former education secretary Estelle Morris. She led the poll for most of the first two weeks, her only apparent challenge coming from TES columnist Ted Wragg (who finished equal third with new London schools tsar Tim Brighouse.

Mr Willis surged from midfield into top place in the closing week, prompting one forum user to ask, "Who is Phil Willis?"

Mr Willis merited 51 mentions in The TES over the past year compared to 507 for Ms Morris. For several days he and Ms Morris were neck and neck in the online competition, with the lead swapping many times. In the villainy stakes, Mr Woodhead was given a close run by further and higher education minster Margaret Hodge, who got just five votes fewer than the former chief inspector's 352. Both were some 100-votes ahead of Tony Blair, who only ranked third for villainy.

For some, though, none of the 21 official hero candidates was inspiring enough. TES website users put forward alternative candidates. The victor by a clear margin was "The Unknown Teacher".

This noble character was nominated on the grounds that "heshe has worked for years in an ordinary school, teaching huge cohorts of all abilities, taking on all curriculum changes, all changes in examination boards and dealt with increasing public criticism of teachers' role..."

Leader, 12

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