When 'parent' was a noun...

10th June 2005 at 01:00
As the train pulls out from Ipswich station, late as usual, on its way to London, a young man, who has jumped on just in time, asks if the seat opposite me is taken.

"No", I say. "Cool," he says, before settling himself down to listen to his iPod, the latest gizmo which enables people to share their poor taste in music with other train passengers by having the volume turned up too loud.

What did he mean by "cool?" The seat certainly wasn't cool, even in the fashionable sense, having been designed in the 1970s. And, anyway, the air conditioning wasn't working.

The English language is surely being strangled to death, but FErret can't put all the blame on teenagers, or "young people" as we are obliged to call them.

Politicians, even those involved in education, are eagerly tightening their grip around the neck of good English.

The word parent, previously understood to be a noun, is regularly misused, as in "parenting", joining the ranks of "chairing", "tasking" and "mentoring" in the chamber of horrors of middle-class illiteracy passed off as modern usage.

So it came as no surprise to find a speech released this week by Jane Davidson, the Welsh minister for education and lifelong learning, using another government-polluted buzzword: "champion".

Wales is, apparently, going to get a "vocational skills champion" who will achieve all sorts of objectives which are already being worked on in a circular and relentless way by the salaried minions of countless education quangos, largely without effect.

Apparently, this person will "have a real impact on vocational learning routes here in Wales". By improving the road network, presumably.

Oh, and of course the "champion" will improve the "esteem" of vocational learning as well as breaking down the "barriers" between schools and colleges.

She says: "It is essential that the new champion has real credibility with the business community."

Just how these things will be achieved is not made clear, but let's hope the Welsh Assembly will have that all worked out, and be able to explain it in plain English, before this latest addition to the payroll is made in July.

That would be, like, cool.

Sorry, I must go now and turn my attention to another story which, as I write, has broken from the Welsh Assembly. They are busy!

According to the latest email, hot off the keyboard, Jane Davidson has announced a scheme which "supports innovative projects that test out new approaches to embedding sustainable development and global citizenship".

Any amusing anecdotes or gossip from the world of FE?Email FErret@tes.co.uk

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