Monday, 7 December 2015


The ambiguity of English

I wonder whether all languages are ambiguous, or whether aspects of the history of English make my own language particularly prone to ambiguity, including in modern centuries its cheerful and determined lack of any central control of standards.

The English-speaking cultures have certainly gained from this ambiguity (and many of us revel in its use and its outcomes). But this is not all towards human betterment. One contemporary sector to have suffered is 'special educational needs' (numerous examples in Conductive World over the years).

Head wallah writes on SEN inspection

I have woken this morning to see that six hours ago night-owl Norman Perrin has drawn attention to a document published by Charlie Henry, Ofsted's SEN 'lead' (rhymes with 'reed', not with 'head'), explains something of how his agency is developing its work:

I responded –
What sort of English is this, indicating what quality of thinking?
'I want to stress this key part of our inspection outcome letter – which will be jointly written with the Care Quality Commission. We will highlight key strengths of local areas. It is my hope and indeed my expectation that local areas’ key strengths will be seriously considered by other local areas.'
Reading through the rest of this substandard public document points to answers to both questions.
Its writer supposes that it will help bring about 'cultural change'.
Too true it might.


I have tried to treat Ofsted and its like seriously – what they say, and what this suggests of how they think and what they do. I have also tried to consider the individuals involved kindly, as they too are human beings with mortgages to pay.

I give up. They make a mockery of standards in public service, and mockery is the best that they deserve. It it time that these jokers and their deeds were laughed out of court.


Henry, C. (2015) How Ofsted and the CQC will inspect special educational needs provision, Community Care, 22 October

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