Monday, 5 January 2009


“This is Watercliffe Meadow, a place for learning” says Linda Kingdon, the head teacher at this newly-opened Sheffield educational establishment (actually, primary school). “We decided…we didn’t want to use the word ‘school’ [because] it had very negative connotations for many of the parents of the children here. We want this to be a place for family learning, where anyone can come…There are no whistles or bells or locked doors.”

But according to the Telegraph, the Campaign for Plain English, which opposes ‘the use of gobbledygook in public life’, describes the decision as “ridiculous and part of a political correctness agenda”.

Well, we learned – at school – that a rose, by any other name, would smell as sweet. And a school, by any other name, will be as good or as bad, as pleasant or as unpleasant, as those administering and attending it choose to make it.

In these verbally degenerate days, however, time-honoured names have to be twisted, and even banned, so as to avoid possible offence or hurt feelings. So lollipop ladies become “crossing patrol officers”, teachers are called “knowledge navigators”, and dinner ladies re-emerge as – wait for it! – “education centre nourishment production assistants”.

What such custodians of the language as Fowler and Sir Ernest Gowers would make of all this beats me. The most likely thing I would want an “education centre nourishment production assistant” to pass me is the sick bag.