Teacher talk makes letters home a mystery

Every walk of life has its foibles. Taxi drivers just will not shut up, estate agents and lawyers are deemed untrustworthy, and builders feel duty-bound to wolf-whistle attractive women.

But these professions all have an advantage over teachers - the rest of the population can understand them.

A survey this week found that three out of 10 mothers and fathers leave parents' evenings baffled by their children's teachers. How many key stages are there? What is a key stage anyway?

Is PSHE a type of early higher education? And what on earth are SEN and PTRs ?

More than a quarter of parents admitted that they did not understand letters home, even when they had ample time to disentangle the alphabetti spaghetti.

Jeni Ripley of London University's institute of education is a consultant for LeapFrog Toys, which carried out the survey of 1,600 parents of children aged between three and eight.

She said: "Parents can feel embarrassed when they don't know what educational terms and three-letter acronyms (TLAs) mean. As a result, they can feel excluded."

And it is not just parents who struggle with education jargon. At his union's annual conference last weekend, John Chowcat, general secretary of the Association of Professionals in Education and Children's Trusts, said many schools remain "bewildered" about what "personalised learning" - a key government policy - really means.

Mr Chowcat hopes a government review, due to report next month, will use evidence from abroad to show the importance of external support services to providing personalised learning.

Actually, he did not put it quite like that. What he said was: "In countries such as Sweden, social pedagogues work closely with individuals and groups to enable them to develop as social beings, and children's learning is personalised so that different models of learning, care and upbringing are taught as inseparable, interconnected parts of life."

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