Daisycutters? No chance

8th October 2004 at 01:00
Unravelling the jargon of education speak

Presumably, an education action zone is a place where there is educational action. It implies the existence of other zones, where education is just sort of kicking its heels, taking life as it comes, picking the odd daisy.

All teachers are familiar with inaction zones, particularly in 2B on wet Thursday afternoons.

Jobs in inaction zones are sought after. Teachers can just hang about, drinking tea, occasionally sitting at the front of a class for half an hour, and getting paid at the end of the month. Student activity consists entirely of informal discussion groups in the town centre. In such a school, tabula rasa doesn't refer to a young mind, it refers to the register.

Once, it seems, the whole country was like this. Then some rotter snitched to Whitehall, and a golden age came to end. Well, here and there anyway.

The Department for Education invented the statutory education action zone, a place that is fun for all the family. It is also fun for local education authorities, local businesses, voluntary organisations, social services, the police, the army, and anyone else in the neighbourhood who takes a hand in getting pupils through the school gates, with their pencils sharpened.

Even the school has to get in on the act.

Together, these groups form the education action forum, which has to produce an action plan. Are you beginning to spot a pattern here? (The action plan must involve stretching targets, but we have been here before.

In the real world, targets exist to be aimed at. For the department, the sole purpose of a target is to be stretched.) Now, the zones weren't entirely new: they had previously been called large zones (which is the sort of name 2B might just have been able to come up with on a wet Thursday afternoon). Soon, some of them must turn into Excellence in Cities Action Zones (these were previously called small zones - just don't go there). In order to transform from an EAZ into an EiCAZ, the EAZ will need - you're ahead of me, I can tell - an action plan.

Other zones will become Excellence Clusters. Good grief, you'd think the DfES was obsessed with excellence. At this rate, it'll be all over the country in no time. But then so will the daisies.


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