Tamsin Constable

Treacle talk

The thick, treacly language of performance management has oozed its sticky way into the classroom. A report sponsored by the Nuffield Foundation and published today decries the jargon-dense way in which the Government talks about education.

Teachers are ‘curriculum deliverers’. Students are ‘customers’. Success may exist only within the context of ‘targets’, ‘audits’ and ‘performance indicators’. Educators must face ‘efficiency gains’ and ‘performativity’ issues.

It’s much more than inappropriate language, the largest review of 14-19 education in the UK and Wales for 50 years, says. We simply can’t use the management concepts to think about the aims of education and the development of young people. It creates a barrier to teachers and learners getting involved.

Such language does two things, I believe, creating a nasty feedback loop. First, it reflects the way the Government now approaches ‘education’. Second, it shapes the way not just policy makers think, but, if we’re not careful, the rest of us, too. And once we – you, me, they – start to think of education as a business, and of learners as consumers, the very concept of ‘education’ is at risk. We’ll get stuck solid in the molasses of management jargon.