GAGGING ORDER: Words one must to say at the school
SCHOOLCHILDREN UTTERING words such as “coz”, “innit” and ending sentences with “yeah” will now have to remain tight lipped at an academy school in south London following a ban on slang words.
The Harris Academy in Upper Norwood has formally enacted a school-wide rule forbidding pupils from using language considered unacceptable by teachers in an effort to improve speaking habits and make students more presentable to the professional world.
In a curb on freedom of expression, words and phrases prohibited from passing its children’s lips include: “extra”, “innit”, “coz”, “aint”, “bare”, “you woz and we woz”, and “beginning sentences with basically” or ending sentences with yeah”.
There was no room for misinterpretation as the school placed its new draconian language measures on pink laminated signs around the site.
Despite its authoritarian nature, the slang ban received total support from Tottenham MP David Lammy.
The Labour politician, who is rumoured to be interested in running for London mayor, said: “I think this is a very good idea. Speaking slang is fine in a social setting but a school should be a professional, educational environment and if part of that means banning slang then that’s fine by me.
“Too often I see young people going into job interviews or writing cover letters without being able to use correct English. Any attempts to change that should be encouraged.”
“Not many employers would tolerate their staff using words like ‘innit’ when speaking to customers or clients, so the school is right to try to discourage the use of this language in classrooms.”
He added: The issue here isn’t about slang itself, but about the context it is used in. Language is an important part of any culture, and young people will always have their own slang.
“But young people need versatility; using slang is fine in some situations, but the ability to also speak good English is absolutely crucial in any workplace, and it is something that every school should be teaching its students.”
Online reaction to its ban seems to be divided.
“Saddo limited approach to language, innit”, academic and science writer Alice Bell said in a tweet.
Another Twitter user Charlotte Adlung tweeted: “Excellent news from London Harris Academy. No slang!”
A spokeswoman for Harris Academy Upper Norwood said:
"In addition to giving students the teaching they need to thrive academically, we want them to develop the soft skills they will need to compete for jobs and university places.
"This particular initiative is just one of the many ways in which we are building the vocabulary of our students and giving them the skills they need to express themselves confidently and appropriately for a variety of audiences."