Councilspeak vs childspeak

The first in an occasional series.

In the course of my job, I speak to some wonderful children on many different matters including often what they think of their school. Sometimes how they express themselves is so much better than any of the rest of us can and it usually is the best bit of the story.

I also have a lot to do with council people. There’s a lot of jargon in education anyway, but sometimes it really does baffle.

So here’s two examples. Firstly, from last night’s children and young people’s scrutiny meeting at Leicester City Council, and secondly, from a seven-year-old girl I interviewed at Bishop Ellis Catholic Primary School, Thurmaston, near Leicester, last week on the occasion of its outstanding Ofsted report.

Council officer: “Consultation has taken place with a range of stakeholders through all the thematic routes that are linked to a range of delivery plans.”

Seven-year-old girl: “The teachers teach us how to eat healthily. Because if you eat badly you get to be as fat as a wrestler and then you only live to 50.”

About Ian

A journalist working in Brussels
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3 Responses to Councilspeak vs childspeak

  1. Anonymous says:

    aah, that brightened up my evening!

  2. Andrew says:

    I get sent all sorts of information about the council’s latest fantastic schemes to improve the city’s education system, and there are plenty of documents I can’t understand. I’m not dim (by the autumn I’ll have a BSc and a BA), I have been a school governor for a long time, but many of the council’s documents make no sense – I think because it’s easy to sling together phrases which look good to council officers, maybe even make sense to council officers, but aren’t clear to the rest of us and resist attempts at logical analysis.

    If that’s a verbatim quote from the council officer, how do you consult a stakeholder through a thematic route? “Stakeholder” seems clear enough to me, I have some idea what a “thematic route” might be (or what a council official might mean by that phrase), but how do you consult one through the other? And what does the delivery plan have to do with the stakeholder consultation? Are they linked? If you try to break down the sentence logically, it seems not.

    • Sue says:

      It could be that the people using all the jargon and current words don’t really understand what they mean either. The basic and fundamental point of education is that ALL children should be able to READ and have good numeracy skills by the time they leave primary school. If these 2 essentials are lacking then what is needed is a clear plan to remedy the situation and children should be able to understand why they are learning.

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