As opposed to what? The bizarre world of school mission statements

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I’ve nicked most of these phrases from several recent Academy prospectuses. Rearrange them in any way you want and they’ll still be bereft of all meaning...

Yikes. As opposed to what? Lumpen mediocrity? Don’t ask. Onwards. “The Leadership Group are aspirational, inspirational, visionary and cohere the empathy of Jesus, the patience of Buddha and the intellect of Dante.”

Blimey! Onwards. “And our classroom facilitators have both a deep subject knowledge and high expectations.”

As opposed to what? A shallow ignorance and low expectations? Onwards. “They deliver a significant learning journey that can be best achieved in the context of exemplary professional relationships that comprehend time, context, emotional wellbeing matched by appropriate ambition.”

Read that again. I know.

“We offer world class learning communities for the 21st century Knowledge Economy.” 

Heaven forfend! 

“We believe in educating the Whole Child.” What? All of Dave Mania? I failed with most of him. 

“And we nourish the Rounded Child.” Would that be Dennis Plum? Plum has been on the pies lately. He fat.

“Our strategically enhanced provision ensures the right toolkit to be creative in the 21st century.”

So it goes. You can’t avoid it.

I’ve nicked most of these phrases from several recent Academy prospectuses. Rearrange them in any way you want and they’ll still be bereft of all meaning. It’s where they go to die – in a toxic mélange of condescending, duplicitous, meretricious, pusillanimous, oleaginous, tenaciously stupid, sense shredding, snake oil cant. It’s beyond satire, beyond belief, and quite beyond me – and all the go. 

Why do we suffer it? How can we defend ourselves from it? Disown it? Mock it? Not easy. These days mirth is no laughing matter. You can get sent to a windowless room and blow a pay rise. I was that soldier. 

Still, we can’t just do nothing. Perhaps we should get more proactive and turn rebellion into a game. You could identify each weasel word and award yourself points. Start with prefix words, like “engage, enlist, enable, encompass, embrace, empower, embed” or “intervention, interface, intermodular”. Cough or yawn every time one passes by during some Keynote Speech Cant – something mature and professional like that. And any sentence with “enhance, significant, aspirational, passionate” gets you five points. Ten, if said by the man over there in the sharp suit and yellow tie. What larks!

  • Ian Whitwham is a former inner city London teacher.


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