New meaning

24th April 2009 at 01:00

When English is one of the core subjects of the national curriculum, it is frustrating to discover that Sir Alan Steer wants to change the meaning of established words in our language ("Satisfactory is no longer good enough", April 17). Satisfactory apparently is now its own opposite - unsatisfactory.

By implication, he requires a change of meaning in other words: good becomes satisfactory, and very good is now good. Presumably excellent is almost unattainable, much to the chagrin of high-flying schools. But joy comes to the less successful schools, for their unsatisfactory is now satisfactory and therefore what my Compact Oxford English Dictionary defines as "fulfilling expectations or needs - acceptable".

Dr Tony Wenman, Claygate, Surrey.

Log-in as an existing print or digital subscriber

Forgotten your subscriber ID?


To access this content and the full TES archive, subscribe now.

View subscriber offers


Get TES online and delivered to your door – for less than the price of a coffee

Save 33% off the cover price with this great subscription offer. Every copy delivered to your door by first-class post, plus full access to TES online and the TES app for just £1.90 per week.
Subscribers also enjoy a range of fantastic offers and benefits worth over £270:

  • Discounts off TES Institute courses
  • Access over 200,000 articles in the TES online archive
  • Free Tastecard membership worth £79.99
  • Discounts with Zipcar,, Virgin Wines and other partners
Order your low-cost subscription today