Diary

29th August 1997 at 01:00
Bureaucrats don't know their canfyddiadau from their darganfyddiadau, according to Cynog Dafis. He's an MP, not the latest bard, and he's not impressed with the standard of language in the Welsh version of Labour's Education White Paper.

"Almost unreadable," he fumes. They used perceptions, but they really meant findings, he complains. Confusion also arose when translators used addysgu (to educate) when they meant dysgu (to teach or to learn).

"I look forward to the time when things like this are composed in Welsh rather than translated from the English."

Carborundum, forced frequently to wade through mountains of Government documents written in impenetrable (but thankfully English) Whitehallspeak, hopes Cynog doesn't talk himself into a job.

A timely reminder from the friendly staff of the British Library education service that it's almost your last chance to see the fabulous King's Library in its original home in Bloomsbury.

The service (sounds a bit grand, but it's three people) is moving at the end of October, half a mile or so to its new HQ in Euston Road - the much reviled, or maligned, red brick building sited next to St Pancras station. But the amazing collection will take some time to catch up.

So take the chance before February to view the 60,000 volumes of the most spectacular personal library collected by King George III (1738-1820) in the 100ft-long gallery in the British Museum .

"If you are thinking of a visit before next February, don't be put off - give us a ring and talk through your plans with us. How about National Libraries Week, November 3-9?" they say. Telephone 0171 412 7797 for details.

Carborundum wonders what national treasures will be left to posterity by our current Royals? Diana's complete bound collection of Hello!, perhaps? Or Charles's set of Spike Milligan cassettes?

The teaching profession is not the only one that is searching hard for recruits - school inspectors are apparently so thin on the ground that the Government is willing to retain the heads of failing schools to inspect others.

For the third time this year, an inspector has been unmasked as a former head of a failing school - this time in Wales. Chris Grey took early retirement from Garnteg primary, near Pontypool, just before the publication of a report that said that more than half the lessons were unsatisfactory. Inspectors criticised the school's leadership and its money management.

Mr Grey, however, remains on the Welsh inspectorate's list of eligible inspectors, and he told a local newspaper, the Western Mail, that he fully intends to continue scrutinising other people's schools.

This follows the case of Martin Lown, who quits his post as head of Newnham Croft primary in Cambridge after the Office for Standards in Education found that the pupils, many of whom were the offspring of local academics, were achieving seriously below the standard expected for their ages. Their writing and number work was "careless and meagre in quality". Mr Lown has been on OFSTED's register of inspectors for the past three years and is apparently signed up with agencies bidding for contracts to inspect schools next term.

In March, it emerged that John Birks, who became a registered inspector in May 1996, had been head of Luttons primary in Marlton, North Yorkshire during the period when the school was deemed to have serious weaknesses. Inspectors said that the school had suffered from poor leadership, and by December 1995 it was under special measures.

Falling education standards are nothing new, according to the Associated Examining Board. The AEB cites trainee travel agents in the 1980s who thought Manchester was in Scotland and Killarney in Greece: evidence, says the board, that pupils perform no worse academically today than in the past.

In 1931, in junior county scholarship examinations, the word "twelve" came out as twelfe, twelf, twelye, twelth, treth and twevle. And as far back as 1858, it adds, an examination report had said that the principles of grammar were "not made a matter of systematic study in our schools".

Carborundum's hackles always rise when the words "mission statement" appear. Even sandwich bars have them these days. But we'll make an exception to offer you this one from Tyneside Careers: "Our activities will maximise the talent, potential and employment opportunities of indidivuals (sic) and improve the economic prosperity of employers for the benefit of the Tyneside community as a hole (sic)."

A mole from Morpeth thought readers might be interested in "this example of unconscious humour caused by the pretentious". Carborundum, who doesn't think Tyneside is, on the whole, a hole (it is, after all, home to Stephen "Tinky-Winky" Byers), agrees.

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