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The Governors' Blog: How to help new recruits fight the jargon

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I used to get quite serious texts from my mum signed "lol". It turns out that she'd mistaken the acronym for "lots of love", rather than "laughing out loud" – she later admitted that she used quite a lot of text speak without really knowing what it meant.

I laughed at her at the time, but quite soon after becoming a governor, I suddenly understood just how she felt. All professions are jargon-filled – but I've yet to encounter one quite as jargon-filled as education.

Just take this sentence: "Our Sip is coming to look over Sims with the Inco as part of our PPR meetings."

The first time I heard it, I nearly rang up Bletchley Park to get some tips on codebreaking.

Breaking the code

Even the most inquisitive and confident of new governors can start to feel self-conscious asking for the sixth or seventh time in a meeting for an explanation. But, at the same time, such codes and acronyms save time – and they're in common use throughout the profession. Balancing the need to introduce governors to the AFWOT (or 'acronym-filled world of teaching'... I'm making my own bid for edu-jargon glory, here) without overwhelming them is key.

Here are some things I found helpful when I started as a governor, and when I've seen new governors start:

  1. Including a jargon-buster as part of your school's governor induction pack
  2. Talking to your head before a new governor's first meeting so that they are aware to break things down a tad more than they would ordinarily
  3. As chair, being aware of when jargon is used and taking the opportunity to explain it as the meeting progresses
  4. Following up with the new governor with a phone call or email to see how they found their first meeting and talking through any uncertainties
  5. Looking at establishing a mentor scheme, buddying up new governors with a more established one

Just implementing one of these could work wonders for helping new governors to hit the ground running a bit faster. Implement all five? You'll be laughing. Lol. 

The writer is a governor based in North London

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