A rose by any other name. . .;Opinion

25th December 1998 at 00:00
John Cairney looks at the possibilities if local authorities were to be as imaginative with school names as their private nursery colleagues.

THE PRACTICE of privately-owned nurseries giving themselves catchy names is something that the local authorities could well copy. Naming a nursery after the street in which it is situated, or after an associated school, is all very well but they are hardly as child-friendly as some of the names on offer in the private sector.

Bumble Bee, Kiddie Shack, Piccolo and Cabbage Patch are some of the more imaginative efforts. The Potty Place in Edinburgh sounds great but might also be applied to a number of other establishments.

Perhaps the practice should be extended to primaries and secondaries, in which case the schools' names would have to appeal to the customers and reflect their culture. Already one secondary school in North Lanarkshire has started down this route by introducing a uniform based on one worn by pupils in a popular Australian soap, what might be described as a "Home and Away strip".

Care would be required, however, to ensure that establishments were not lumbered with titles based purely on transient fashions. One Glasgow nursery can boast, if that be the word, of having a Pocahontas on its roll; fine for 1998, but what about 2008? Far better stick to the less exotic but longer lasting John Smith from the same Disney film.

Children's television programmes and characters would probably be the most common source of names. A number of Blue Peter primaries could be anticipated, given that the programme is in its fortieth year and still going strong. The name might have to be changed for denominational schools in some parts of the country, perhaps to "Blue St Peter's" or "Green Peter".

Residents of Kingskettle in Fife would have at least two options. They could employ the word "Singing" after the children's entertainers associated with the second syllable, or they might do a sponsorship deal and stick "Burger" in front of the complete word.

The popularity of a certain purple dinosaur would ensure a proliferation of "Barneys", though schools in the leafier suburbs would prefer the posher "Bernard" to distinguish them from the proles.

The secondary schools presently called "Grange", would only have to add "Hill" to their name to improve their pupil-cred and Grove Academy in Dundee, oops sorry, Broughty Ferry, could really be in fashion if it dropped "Academy" and prefixed the remaining bit with "Byker".

"Heartbreak High" would not go down well with parents and headteachers, who, for image and nostalgic reasons would probably settle for "Happy Days High".

Pop singers and groups would also make their influence felt. Single-sex girls schools would recently have been falling over themselves to fit the word "Spice" into their name. One Glasgow school displayed commendable prescience by becoming "All Saints" in 1972, and how they must regret not having a copyright on the name. "Boyzonely" is ready-made for single-sex boys schools but given present day trends is unlikely to have a long shelf life.

Some schools may not have a choice. The United States education system has an increasing number of schools called Edison which may have a connection to the American scientist and inventor, but is also the name of the private company which has taken over the running of the schools.

Scotland, too, honoured a technological pioneer when John Logie Baird primary opened in Helensburgh, but some locals with more knowledge of the products of the cathode-ray tube than of its inventor were soon calling it after the similar sounding cartoon bear from Jellystone Park.

The introduction of Public and Private Partnership (PPP) in the building of schools may well create tensions between public and private preferences (ppp) when deciding on schools' names. Companies andor local authorities wishing to sook up to the Government could reintroduce the name of the former Catholic seminary in Aberdeenshire, Blair's College, and a Dewar's High would not be out of place in Perth.

The education minister already has at least two west of Scotland primaries sharing her first name, though in each case it is preceded with "Saint" and though brought up a good Coatbridge Tim, even she would admit that her achievements don't merit canonisation.

Her surname, however, suggests more secular possibilities. If a certain food discount store can be persuaded to join up with other companies in a PPP, then we might yet see a chain of Scottish schools following the example of the Edisons; "Lidl High", "Lidl Academy" or even "Lidl Secondary" would go down well in the non-denominational sector.

For Catholic schools there is only one name in town, "St Consortia's", and the school that Mrs Liddell's children attend could do no better than copy the name of a nursery in Stepps, near Glasgow, "Second-to-Mum".

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