What happened next?

This term we've been tracking down the latest instalment in some of the significant stories we've told in Friday magazine since 1998. This week: birth of the Teaching Awards In July 1999, when Friday magazine was just over a year old, we reminded readers that "It could be you". That summer saw the first of what has become an annual event in the educational calender: the Teaching Awards.

The awards, like Friday, aimed to celebrate the fantastic work that goes on, largely unsung, in schools up and down the country. Like Friday, they were intended to make a contribution to acknowledging - and sharing - great work by teachers and other adults that has lasting value in children's lives.

For this final issue of Friday, we are catching up on what happened next for the awards; the eighth set of regional finals have just finished and the national winners will be announced in October. Initially just for schools in England, the scheme now covers Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. New chief executive Caroline Evans is the fourth to hold the post, which she took up last December; she believes the awards have made a difference. "Education is now a much more positive environment," she says.

"Teaching is the first choice of career changers and recent graduates, which was not the case in 1999."

Finalists, she says, all tend to say the same thing. That they did not expect to win, that they are proud to be on the podium, but that most of all they are proud to be a teacher (or classroom assistant, head or governor - the number of categories has expanded to 12 from nine in the early days.) This year sees the introduction of an award for governors and the renaming of an award dedicated to the late, great Ted Wragg, a trustee of the awards and chair until his death of the national judging panel. "Ted was a key figure for us and we are proud to be able to have dedicated an award to his memory," says Caroline Evans. That his award is sponsored by the innovation unit at the Department for Education and Skills would no doubt have prompted a wry smile from the man himself.

The early cash prizes - pound;20,000 for the schools of national winners - were abandoned in 2005, not just because of perennial difficulties with attracting sufficient sponsorship. "It's a professional accolade," says Caroline Evans. "It's all about teaching and learning." Winning awards certainly appears to help keep people motivated. Of the four regional winners we featured in that early issue of Friday, at least two (Emma Rippingale of Poplars county primary in Suffolk and Jane Roberts, head of drama at Collingwood College, Surrey) are still doing great work in the same schools.

We hope that Friday magazine has helped, too.

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