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'Orwellian language' in schools turns pupils into 'customers', finds damning report
Schools using the 'Orwellian language of performance management' are undermining teenagers' education by turning them into 'customers' rather than students, a landmark report says today.
Teachers who are forced to use phrases such as 'performance indicator' and 'curriculum delivery' lack enthusiam for the job, the six-year investigation found.
The Oxford-based Nuffield Review, the most comprehensive study of secondary education in 50 years, said that 'the words we use shape our thinking'.
It notes: 'As the language of performance and management has advanced, so we have proportionately lost a language of education which recognises the intrinsic value of pursuing certain sorts of question ... of seeking understanding [and] of exploring through literature and the arts what it means to be human.'
Teachers are inundated with the language of measurable 'inputs' and 'outputs', 'performance indicators' and 'audits', 'targets', 'customers', 'deliverers', 'efficiency gains' and 'bottom lines', the report continues.
In a damning indictment, the report said that a culture of hitting targets, where 'cuts in resources are euphemistically called 'efficiency gains', has led to 'the consumer or client' replacing 'the learner'.
Among the jargon were such baffling phrases as 'performativity' (the emphasis that government monitoring has on achieving targets) and 'level descriptor' (the outcomes that a learner should reach).
'Dialogic teaching' (an emphasis on speaking and listening between teachers and pupils) and 'articulated progression' (allowing pupils options for their next step in the qualification system) were also singled out in the report for censure.
And the report's authors accused the 'micro management' of education by minsters for forcing schools 'to teach to the test' and called for 'a return to an educational language'.