Government jargon

February 27, 2009 11:20 AM

The Economist provided a helpful guide to Government education jargon last week, in their insert 'Translating eduspeak'. Here are just some of their insightful observations:

Satisfactory - One of the four possible judgements of the schools inspectorate (the other there are inadequate, good and outstanding). It means "unsatisfactory". ("Inadequate", for its part means "dire"). This explains the chief schools inspector's pronouncement that satisfactory schools are "not good enough".

Non-statutory - Depends on context. It can mean "optional", but in the National Primary Strategy, a set of "guidelines" on teaching literacy and numeracy, it means "obligatory" - unless a school wants to risk being deemed "satisfactory".

Gifted and Talented - refer to the top 5-10% in academic and non-academic pursuits respectively, who are to be encouraged in their gifts and talents. The terms are a necessary sop to middle class parents concerned that their children are not being stretched enough. To deflect the charge of elitism, levelled by many teachers, the categories have proliferated to include the capacity to "make sound judgements", to show "great sensitivity or empathy" or to be "fascinated by a particular subject".

Independent government commissioned review is one whose author is not a civil servant. The remit leaves little room for manoeuvre and the conclusions are wearily predictable. The purpose of such a review, by no means confined to education, is to provide cover for politicians to carry out what they were going to do anyway.

The Economist provided a helpful guide to Government education jargon last week, in their insert 'Translating eduspeak'. Here are just some of their insightful observations:

Satisfactory - One of the four possible judgements of the schools inspectorate (the other there are inadequate, good and outstanding). It means "unsatisfactory". ("Inadequate", for its part means "dire"). This explains the chief schools inspector's pronouncement that satisfactory schools are "not good enough".

Non-statutory - Depends on context. It can mean "optional", but in the National Primary Strategy, a set of "guidelines" on teaching literacy and numeracy, it means "obligatory" - unless a school wants to risk being deemed "satisfactory".

Gifted and Talented - refer to the top 5-10% in academic and non-academic pursuits respectively, who are to be encouraged in their gifts and talents. The terms are a necessary sop to middle class parents concerned that their children are not being stretched enough. To deflect the charge of elitism, levelled by many teachers, the categories have proliferated to include the capacity to "make sound judgements", to show "great sensitivity or empathy" or to be "fascinated by a particular subject".

Independent government commissioned review is one whose author is not a civil servant. The remit leaves little room for manoeuvre and the conclusions are wearily predictable. The purpose of such a review, by no means confined to education, is to provide cover for politicians to carry out what they were going to do anyway.

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