Director Ray Lawrence and actors filming Federation’s award-winning ad about a young teacher’s first day on the job.

Teachers’ ad wins award

The first in the series of Federation’s Teachers Make a Difference ads took out a major award this month as the second set of ads was screened in cinemas and inserted into top-billing shows on television. The Australian Directors Guild gave its Award for Best Direction in a TV Commercial to Ray Lawrence for First Day, the video about a young teacher’s first day on the job.

“I really enjoyed last year so it was a joy to do it again this year,” Lawrence said when asked about his work on this year’s ads, The Apprentice (about TAFE teaching) and The Graduate (about a refugee child who gains the courage to go to university because of her schoolteacher’s influence).

Lawrence, celebrated director of Lantana, Bliss, Jindabyne and other films, knew exactly what Federation wanted when it approached him to direct the ads in 2012-13 and this year.

He thought back to the art and English teachers whose ideas and encouragement guided him into film-making.

“I kind of always remember those two people at different times in my life. I think most people have a special teacher,” he told Federation.

This year’s ads went “up a notch” from last year’s productions, says lecturer and social commentator Jane Caro, who wrote all the ads.

“We’re taking it up a notch. To some extent, it’s where school leads you,” she said.

When Federation planned the ads Assistant General Secretary (Communications and Administration) John Dixon said: “we want to take an emotional look at teachers because so much of teaching involves connections with kids, with your students.”

“I can remember back to the teachers I had. They all made a difference to my education. It was that personal thing they did, the step further that they went,” he said.

The new ads gained maximum exposure on the big screen in city and regional centres and a TV version of The Graduate was placed in top-rating shows such as Downton Abbey, My Kitchen Rules and news programs last month on Channel 7 and 7Two.

Lawrence says he will be forever grateful to the public school system that gave him his education.

“You would think that it would be obvious to everyone that this system is one of the most important cornerstones we have in our democracy, vital to our future as a nation. You would think that we would be celebrating such a system, supporting it as much as we possibly can,” he said.

“Yet of late we seem to be taking it for granted, pulling it apart.

“How can we do this to the dedicated teachers who work so hard, supporting and guiding the most important people in our lives?

“So being asked to make these commercials has given me the opportunity, in some small way, to be part of reminding all the teachers that they are deeply appreciated and are making a great and important difference to the lives of our children and our society.”

Have a look at all the ads at