It may be a rainbow coalition but it’s curtains for the DCSF and with it the jolly rainbow logos. Yes, the the Department for Children, Schools and Families, fondly known as ‘the Department for Curtains and Soft Furnishings’ by those (like me) who struggled to remember the correct order of the letters, is no more.
Those of us with long memories (well, we oldies with fading memories) will recall various abbreviations for our masters in Whitehall. This might be a good time for Keith Davidson to revisit the astute article he wrote for NATE’s English Drama Media magazine back in October 2008 on the ugliness of the DCFS acronym. As he said:
There are linguistic reasons for any confusion, phonetic and pragmatic…. But there is also something wrong with the sequence of items in the full title. It’s a problem of collocation, the linguistic term for the company lexical items habitually keep, predictive in both coding and de-coding…. The new Department is styled as a market place for products not processes, the title naming the delivery outlets and the customers.
Meanwhile, you can still enjoy for a while the disjointed appearance of the new/old website and realise that all those sweet children on the old site are now hurriedly packing up all the bits of their rainbows and putting them away for the long hard winter ahead. Worse, this could well be, as in The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe, a winter without Christmas. Do also enjoy the appearance of a Twitter feed on the new DfE front page. When I began writing this it had a message to ‘boomnoise’ – a hip name at odds with the decidedly uncool message they’ve sent him: ‘We’re reviewing all web content now. Meanwhile all statutory guidance and legislation still reflects current legal position.’ Man, get with the Web 2.0 thing, even if David Cameron did say some very uncomplimentary (and rude) things about Twitter during the election. This no doubt explains why the unofficial David Cameron Twitter site was taken down in January ‘at the reasonable & very polite request of Tory HQ’. Of course it was very polite – but just imagine if there had been any argument….
Is it also ominous that the current home page refers to ‘Children’s workforce’ and ‘Schools workforce’? Does this mean the new guys can’t actually bring themselves to utter words such as ‘social workers’ or ‘teachers’? Or that they really are just workers now and not professionals? And I see that the ‘Schools workforce’ link goes to Teachernet not to anything on the DfE site. So: ‘Here are a few ideas and lesson plans other teachers have come up with, and some links and things. Sort yourselves out, we’ll be back in a bit with the new order and new orders.’ We can imagine they might be on these lines:
- Ties to be worn at all times 1 [Postscript, 18 May: Ros Asquith’s cartoon shows one reason why: ‘We introduce the old school tie to give them a head start in politics.’]
- Spelling: i does come before e. 2
- Sums: ‘If a banker’s bonus is £5 million and the new boss of M&S gets £15 million, how fair is that?’ (Answer on back page: it’s the market, stupid.)
- Drill: 8 am sharp in the playground for half an hour with the Sergeant-Major; any latecomers to be subject to Field Punishment No. 1 for 30 minutes, rain or shine (that’ll soon sort out the scrimshankers and oiks). 3
- Music: Eton Boating Song [Daily Telegraph, 17 May: ‘Eton is ready to push the boaters out for David Cameron.’ Yes, the chaps get a party because a chap’s in the right party!]
TeachersSchools workforce to be sorted by degrees: all those with less than a 2:ii marched off by Sergeant-Major to be shotdismissed. Yes, novelist and former Children’s Laureate Michael Morpurgo – that means you.
- More sums: lovely Carol Vorderman to make the jolly lower fourth as calculating as she is!
- It doesn’t add up: take 6 away from 7 to find that lovely Carol Vorderman has a third-class degree too, so where does that leave one?
- (No, I give up, I can’t take any more.)
1 Michael Gove, this week appointed Secretary of State for Education, says it’s good for discipline. But does this rule apply to boys and girls – and staff?
2 Yes, Michael says this too. In 2009, the Telegraph reported that the National Primary Strategy’s Support for Spelling said ‘that the rule memorised by generations of children is no longer worth teaching’. Michael Gove, then Shadow education secretary, declared at the time:
Having systematically dumbed our schools down for a decade, it is no surprise the Government is actively telling teachers not to bother with proper spelling. I would reverse this nonsense at a stroke.
Well, now’s your chance, Michael!
3 You’ve guessed: Michael thinks this will be fun too!
Off to update my Twitter account now before it’s closed down too!