Inchworm - The policy wonk whose heart isn't in it

13th August 2010 at 01:00

Monday: Devise a plan to invest in our children's future. If parents really ARE prepared to pay an extra #163;8,670 for a home in the catchment area of their top local primary school why not allow estate agents to open offices in schools? They could be there on Parents' Evenings offering end of term market prospects, and schools could levy a 1.5% Catchment Surcharge on all sales. Resolve to set up a comparison website: www.comparethecatchment.com. Memo To Self: need "meerkat factor". Hmm. Complicateds.

Tuesday: There's been so much momentum at the Department recently that nobody's really taken much notice of where they're going. Now the awful reality is beginning to sink in. Acceleration is great, but someone needs to steer. Take this ridiculous list of Coalition Buzzwords that Team Gove has circulated to "consultants". It's ludicrous, no wonder Scary Paula's called for an immediate review. What is the point, for instance, of changing a mission statement from "make England the best place in the world for children to grow up" to "make Britain the most family-friendly place in Europe"? It makes Britain sound like one big bloody Fun Pub. Whoever redrafted these Departmental Buzzwords wants ... oh, wait.

Wednesday: Scary Paula calls. "Right, this is urgent. Those stupid buzzwords you came up with last year for the Rebadging Taskforce?" I pretend to trawl my memory. "They may have been OK when we were in opposition. They look ridiculous now. We need to RE-rebadge, SHARPISH". God, sharpish is as sharpish does, Paula - keep your hair on, MISERYGUTS! I say, after she's rung off. I have another look at the Lexicon of Rebadgement we produced as Shadow Education advisers. It's pretty dire. We suggested replacing "directive" with "guide, empower, enable". What possessed us? You can't replace a noun with a verb, especially if you're trying to persuade everyone you're raising standards. Correction: "building skills and competencies to innovate".

Thursday: First meeting of the Re-Rebadging Taskforce. Scary Paula is firm: all references to the state must be replaced by Big Society. As in Big Society Education. Though as Sandra from Communications points out, that sounds more like one of those "tackling obesity" Health Initiatives. For a start, we have to re-rebadge "delivery". Last year's suggestion was "implementation" which is a bit of a mouthful to be honest. After some thought, we decide on "sale". As in "The Department is committed to the sale of a free school network". In due course, perhaps, via in-house estate agents.

Friday: God, some of the buzzwords we came up with last year don't even make sense. What's a "local area self-assessment tool"? No idea. Sandra says she'll email Toby Young, he might know.

Please send your suggestions to inchworm@tes.co.uk.

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