I really do mind the PAP

3rd February 2006 at 00:00
Like me, I'm sure that when you decided to become a teacher your initial idea was that clarity of communication was key. When I'm in the classroom it still is: pictorial vocabulary lists plastered on every available square inch of wall space, constant reinforcement of concepts, and child-friendly language used in all cases. Clarity in all things ... unless I want to have a secret giggle with my TA that is.

Which, er, leads me to the problem with communication between adults in education. My teaching assistant is reduced to just two letters. If you walked into my classroom you might think she was an LSA or, given her all-round marvellousness, an HLTA.

It starts going wrong before you even step into the classroom: applying through UCAS for your ITT. Mine was a PGCE; you might have done a BEd.

How many of these accursed initials do we understand? I was introduced to NASSEA scales a while ago by our knowledgeable LEA EMAG adviser. Even she had to check what NASSEA stood for. It's Northern Association of Support Services for Equality and Achievement. Of course, some people prefer the term EAL to EMAG or ESOL. Apart from our ICT co-ordinator who keeps mixing up EAL and LEA. I'm just pleased there's no AEL, LAE or ELA. Although after a few pints of a-l-e on a Friday, I'm sure I've pontificated about all three.

At a recent LEA meeting, a teacher from another school proudly boasted - without irony or explanation - that her school was sorting out their PAPs.

That's pupil attainment profiles for those of you (like me) who thought it was a scatological slur on their more troublesome pupils.

Mind you, when education does move away from initials, a frightening lack of imagination is shown. We've got a book fair coming up and letters sent to parents direct them to our reception area where the stall will be. I'm certain mums and dads of early years kids will bowl up to our bemused reception teachers clutching a crumpled fiver and an order form. Similarly, try quizzing our foundation stage co-ordinator on the finer points of our foundation subject curricula and you'll learn more about sandpits and Bob the Builder than rock formations and Henry VIII.

The odd set of initials here or there is OK, but I can't help thinking we've gone totally OTT. Oh no! I think I've gone beyond the initial stages of acronymonia myself. TFI Friday and I can spend the weekend talking to normal people. TTFN.

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