Principal Trying to Educate Parents Against Using Slang


A truly brave yet worthwhile initiative:

Parents have been sent letters from a school urging them to stop their children using phrases such as ‘it’s nowt’ and ‘gizit ere’.

Sacred Heart Primary School, a Roman Catholic Voluntary Aided school, warned against ‘problem’ phrases and criticised children using pronunciations, such as ‘free’ and ‘butta’ instead of ‘three’ and ‘butter’.

The letter spells out 11 ‘incorrect’ phrases. ‘I done that’ and ‘I seen that’ were blacklisted, and parents were reminded that ‘yous’ should not be permitted because ‘you is never a plural’.

Carol Walker, Sacred Heart’s headteacher, defended the letter, saying: ‘We would like to equip our children to go into the world of work and not be disadvantaged. 

‘We need the children to know there is a difference between dialect, accent and standard English.

‘The literacy framework asks children to write in standard English.

‘I am not asking the children to change their dialect or accent but I don’t want them to enter the world of work without knowing about standard English.’

Parents seemed broadly in favour of the language initiative, though they were taken aback to receive the letter.
Cheryl Fortune, 35, a school escort for Middlesbrough Council and parent at Sacred Heart, said: ‘When I saw it I was a bit shocked. I thought my kids are only eight and five, so it is a bit extreme.‘If I am honest though my eldest son said “yeah” last night and my youngest said “it’s yes”, so he corrected him. I can understand why the school has done it, to encourage people to speak properly.’

Carol Walker, the headteacher at Sacred Heart, who is focusing on her pupils’ competitiveness in the workplace

Another parent, engineer Chris Allinson, 31, hadn’t seen the letter but thought it was a good idea.

He said: ‘I try to correct my daughter Jasmine’s speech if she says things wrongly. I want her to get the best start in life.’

Sacred Heart is not the only school where accent is an issue.

Essex school children at the Cherry Tree Primary School in Basildon are being offered elocution lessons after teachers complained that the accent was affecting their grammar and spelling. 


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One Response to “Principal Trying to Educate Parents Against Using Slang”

  1. John Tapscott Says:

    There is a fine line here. Language is a part of culture. My school life began in my home village in Devon where we all had broad accents and idiosyncratic speech, except for my mother who, being Scottish, spoke differently. Everybody understood and tolerated her because she was a “furriner”. Her attempts to get me to “spake praper Inglish” only succeeded after we emigrated and came to live in Australia, where my accent and figures of speech were often ridiculed by one of my teachers. Then I learned to speak “Strine” and fit in to the culture very well, knowing Banjo Paterson, Henry Lawson and other Australian literary giants better than many natural born Aussies.

    Since becoming a teacher I have learned that, depending on your culture, there are many idiosyncracies of speech and language in this country. For example, an Aboriginal boy approached me in the playground to ask me if I knew where his friend. He said, “I say, sir, do you know the whereabouts of my companion, William.” Like hell he did. He said, “Eh, sair, where Billy went?” Whereupon I launched into a lecture about proper English speech and expression. Like hell I did. He would have likely received that as a personal rejection, as I had my teacher’s ridiculing of my accent.

    My message to Carol Walker would be, “Good luck with that one.”

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