Kwality is lost in the translation

18th July 2003 at 01:00
When I was at university I used to love analysing misty texts written in ancient versions of Germanic languages, like Anglo-Saxon, Gothic, Old High German, or Southwest Rhenish Franconian. Nowadays, as a fully qualified crapologist, I find such early training in comprehending the cryptic comes in very handy, especially in the dung-covered field of kwality assurance.

From time to time someone sends me a document which takes whatever biscuits are going. I reproduce below, word for word, the official headteachers'

performance management information, round four, sent to external advisers.

It is not made up, I swear. It is not a spoof. I could not even begin to craft such lyric beauty.

Here are the nine instructions external advisers have been given by the private company responsible for them, in their original glory. They offer a nice summer puzzle to resolve on the beach in Skegness or Benidorm. Your task, should you accept it, is to work out what the bloody hell it all means.

"I am writing to clarify the policy requirements in respect of the submission of EARoVs for quality assurance purposes.

The policy position is: 1. Each EA must submit herhis FIRST part 1 EARoV directly to the designated RC. It is not copied to the RDO in the Cambridge office at this stage.

2. This must be sent to the RC at the same time as sent to the school - sending to school need not be delayed by the process, because . . .

3. The RC will not QA every one received, and the QA does not have to be completed before the school visit.

4. Feedback will not typically be received by the EA in advance of the visit (this may happen incidentally on some occasions).

5. The RC has the opportunity to open and scan each part 1, if desired, to assist with the early identification of concerns or good practice.

6. Some of the part 1 EARoVs will then be subject to QA, and completion of a summary monitoring log produced by the regional co-ordinator.

7. If an EARoV is subject to QA in this way, the EA will receive a copy of the summary monitoring log produced by the regional co-ordinator.

8. The full EARoV, parts 1 and 2 together with the covering letter to governors, must be submitted to the RDO in the usual way following every visit, including the first one.

9. Full QA will be undertaken on a sample of full EARoVs as usual".

What is worrying about this text is the use of phrases like "as usual".

Does it mean there are people who inhabit this kind of world on a daily basis, who are fluent in, for want of a better term, New High Crapspeak?

Just to help you along the way, here are a few of my own attempts at deciphering. EA must stand for "external adviser", since the message is aimed at them. I guess QA is "quality assurance", but this is surely based on a misspelling of "kwality assurance", so it should really be KA.

But what on earth is an EARoV? It is obviously a key element in the story, as it occurs several times, as in "the full EARoV". Do you think it could be related to the Full Monty, and external advisers are expected to go into schools stark naked, or strip off in assembly? I hope they pay them extra.

Maybe EARoV is a creature. "Look out! The EARoVs are coming. Run for your life." Or is it an important instruction for those advisers who stay for a school lunch - "Eat a Rennie, Or Vomit"?

On the other hand it might be a word in its own right, so it could be used in a literacy hour activity as a word that children must incorporate into a sentence: "In later life Van Gogh went a bit funny and cut his own EARoV."

What does RDO stand for? Rather Duck Out? Right Duff Officials? Rolling Drunks Only? Really Deplore Ofsted?

Who is "the designated RC"? Could it be Ronnie Cutler? He lived round the corner from us and always had a hole in his trousers and the sole hanging off his shoe from playing football. It could be a threat to people in school that they will end up in penury. If there is poor performance management Ronnie can be wheeled in wearing his tatters as an awful warning.

How can you satirise something which comes so complete, so perfectly formed, so defiant of further embroidery? I take my hat off to its author.

It is the finest acronym soup I have ever come across. Every Intelligent Educator Is Overwhelmed. EIEIO.

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