Tributes to commentator who declared today's satire is tomorrow's policy

18th November 2005 at 00:00
RUTH KELLY, Education Secretary: "His tremendous passion, knowledge and wit drawn from a working life dedicated to teaching meant his contribution to the profession was immense and his views could never be ignored. He will be greatly missed by everyone involved in education and beyond."

KEN BOSTON, chief executive, Qualifications and Curriculum Authority: "Ted Wragg was a giant of a man as an educator. He was known nationally and internationally, his newspaper columns were widely read and he'll be missed by educators around the western world.

"Ted spoke with great authenticity, as a man who had his roots in the classroom. I have never come across someone with such a rich understanding of classrooms and children."

SHIRLEY WILLIAMS, Liberal Democrat peer: "Ted and I had lunch last Friday to discuss the white paper. We shared the same view that it was full of contradictions. Teacher after teacher I've spoken to simply cannot keep up with the level of change being forced upon them. He was a major spokesman for trying to establish a more permanent framework in education. The great warriors have fallen silent. Many of us will miss his wise voice very much."

John Prescott, deputy prime minister: "Ted was an inspiration for so many.

He was respected and liked by scholars and teachers, and for the Labour party, he was a beacon for the best ideas in education. His words and good counsel were an inspiration to me and to the Labour party and I owe Ted an enormous debt for his support and advice over the years, especially during the latest education controversy. We have lost an outstanding teacher. We have all lost a great friend."

David Blunkett, former education secretary: "Ted Wragg was not simply an outstanding academic in the field of education, but a great communicator who could turn theory into practical, political change.

"As a writer, he could capture the essence of relevant argument and as a broadcaster, he could hold his own against the best. We shared, sometimes with despair, a love for Sheffield Wednesday. And, sometimes with equal despair, we shared an abiding commitment to improving standards in education, to liberate the talent and improve the life-chances of every child and adult in this country."

Jilly Cooper, novelist: "I've been reading Plato, and I think these lines just sum him up completely: 'Thou wert the Morning Star among the living, 'Ere thy fair light was fled; Now, having died, thou art as Hesperus, giving New splendour to the dead.'

"It's a sad day for teachers. He was such a kind man, and had such ferocious, fierce courage.

"He took on governments and everybody. He was so brave, such a fearless fighter. He was a god to teachers. He always fought their corner. He was lovely. And he was much better looking in the flesh."

Rory Bremner, impressionist: "It's terribly sad. He was a very warm man. He was unique, because he had such wisdom and grasp of the issues in education, combined with a wonderful sense of humour. And - particularly useful in his field - he had a keen sense of the absurd. He used to say that today's satire is tomorrow's policy.

"He single-handedly kept up teachers' morale. His columns were what teachers read under their desks when the kids weren't looking. He had a wicked eye for satire, and a great sense of fun. He was a warm and genial man. I'm sure he will be missed by everyone involved in education. He was a sane man in a mad world. I'll miss him very much."

William Atkinson, head of Phoenix high, in London, who worked with Professor Wragg on The Unteachables and at the Teaching Awards: "Without doubt he was the most witty and erudite commentator on the educational scene. He was so funny, and so relevant. At the age of 67, he was as relevant - if not more so - than he was in his 30s and 40s.

"The idea for The Unteachables came from Ted. He wanted to explore what lay outside the box. He took risks, but calculated risks, not foolhardy ones.

Whatever advice he gave, it was always in the best interests of young people. He was a man for all seasons, a very special person, a one-off. He was a national treasure."

Professor Tim Brighouse:

"I was once on the receiving end of one of Ted Wragg's devastating back-page lampoons for the self-evaluation scheme I'd introduced in Oxfordshire.

"I read, laughed - and winced a little - and I learned. Soon after we met and started a friendship that lasted an all-too-brief quarter of a century.

Ted was a humourist, a satirist, a broadcaster, a writer, a researcher, a speaker and above all else a teacher. Those who have spent a lifetime working solely in any one of these fields would see Ted as a talent to be emulated.

"And now to my shocked, stunned and continuing disbelief he's dead. I shall miss him every day for the rest of my life, buoyed by his writings and memories of his wit, wisdom and generosity. Above all I shall remember his peerless example of what personal and professional integrity mean."

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