Tuesday, March 31, 2009


I generally try to avoid commenting on matters of education, because I don't like to spill information in public that I've picked up in private conversations with friends and relatives who are teachers. In this case, however, I'm willing to make an exception. Partly because this example of government educational bullshit is particularly heinous, and partly because this is all information out there in the public eye, if you know where you look.

The following piece of fine, high quality education sector bullshit came to my attention this evening and I thought it needed sharing. What you are about to read is copied verbatim, I've not added any mistakes of my own.

Building on the successful Communicating Matters training program in [The borough I live in] a multi-disciplinary team will work with twenty settings to support and Early Language Lead Practitioner (ELLP) from each setting and facilitate networks so that good practice is cascaded and fully embedded across the authority.

It's to do with a government initiative---these are usually stupid ideas thrown up by department of education think-tanks and declared to be mandatory until the next gimmick comes along---that has been dumped on a local school. I'm not knowledgable when it comes to educational psychology, so I can't make an informed judgement of the program in question but, as someone who spends most of their day writing and editing, that paragraph offends me. It's filled with buzz words, meaningless jargon, and it's just generally badly written.

I'm sure that these programs are conceived in good faith, and most of them are based on sound research, but they're usually foisted on already overworked teachers and take money away from schools that could be spending it on something more concretely useful. On top of that, they're always fluffed out and peppered with management-speak to the point of incomprehensibility by the time they reach teachers. This means that they're unlikely to win the enthusiasm of teachers, even if there is a valid concept under all the crap.

I found an advert for a "Full-Time Primary Strategy Consultant" to assist with the program described above in another city---this would be someone who would earn equal if not more pay than a full-time teacher---which i think it worth quoting also, even if only for the further funny jargon.

A successful candidate must be able to:

a)support schools and settings in improving young children's language and communication skills , with particular emphasis on practical ways of improving practitioners' skills in supporting early language acquisition and development,

b)support schools and settings in developing the quality of provision to ensure all children access a language rich environment, raising expectations and engaging all children particularly the most disadvantaged

c)facilitate effective coaching arrangements in schools and settings and engage in the modelling of good practice in those schools and settings being supported;

d)Facilitate the development of clusters and networks, both within and between schools and settings so that good practice is cascaded and fully embedded across the authority;

e)promote social inclusion and help schools and settings to meet the needs of different groups of children, such as boys and girls, children from minority ethnic communities, children with SEN, gifted and talented children, transient children, children from travelling communities, looked after children and children learning English as an additional language;

f)support the planning and delivery of agreed central, network or school/setting based INSET, provide appropriate high quality advice and guidance to schools and settings, offer advice on relevant resources and communicate with schools and settings via agreed media;

g)participate in agreed cross-service initiatives in order to promote children's early language acquisition and development

I wish that I could say that this sort of crap was the preserve of one side of the political spectrum or the other, but it seems to be a pretty universal shade of bullshit. Teachers, doctors, nurses, and policemen are subject to this sort of thing day-in day-out all year round. They have to be proactive, and dynamic!

I'm glad I'm not a public servant.