Jargon hunters have edu-babble in their sights

30th March 2007 at 01:00
IS "DEEP support" a surgical truss your granny might wear or the latest in pedagogical thinking? Are the "nine gateways of personalised learning" an approach to teaching or the title of a Tolkein novel?

These are just two of the bewildering phrases now used in education that have prompted calls for an end to meaningless jargon.

Robin Bevan, deputy head at King Edward VI grammar school in Essex, will tell the Association of Teachers and Lecturers conference that it is time to stamp out "edu-babble". He said: "Tragically it seems as though this new patois is becoming a badge of status within the profession. We want a campaign to restore clarity and dignity to professional dialogue.

"If you look at a term like 'next practices', it's a natty phrase, but could be more simply explained by saying 'good ideas for the future'.

"At exactly what point in career development does a teacher lose capacity to talk plain English? Is there an ultimate position where words are blended to total vacuity?"

Other phrases he criticises are "taking ownership of the school's vision"

and "misdirected goals of behaviour".

Mick Brookes, general secretary of the National Association of Head Teachers, said policy makers must think carefully before introducing terminology. "Is it the creation of a concept that requires a new direction or is it a device to create newspeak that excludes the uninitiated?" he asked.

"My pet hate is the use of the word 'champion'. Perhaps it's my age but it immediately makes me think of the Wonder Horse."

The Plain English Campaign, which fights against gobbledygook, said a recent focus on management had made the education world more vulnerable to the phenomenon. Spokesman Ben Beer said: "Managers are learning practices and procedures from other industries now, so you get boardroom jargon creeping in.

"It can actually be a very alienating language for people. Central government comes up with terms and they don't always realise how laughable they are."

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