English standards debate begins as top grade A-level results top 25%
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 12:45
Plain English Campaign has joined the debate about the standard of English in British schools and colleges, as government test results revealed 40% of pupils are failing to meet required standards in the ‘Three Rs’. The Government’s Key Stage Three tests showed that nearly 200,000 children failed to write in a formal style or spell words with more than two syllables.
This week also saw the publication of a list of writing ‘howlers’ collected by the respected academic Dr Bernard Lamb, who claimed that foreign students were better at spelling than their British counterparts. Yet top grade A level results have risen from just over 15% to around 25% in the last ten years.
'It is so disappointing to know that children are growing up without being able to read and write properly’, said Campaign founder/director Chrissie Maher. ‘Pupils need to be taught grammar and spelling at an early stage so that they develop good writing skills for later life. I couldn't read or write properly when I was a child and I know how difficult life can be because of this.'
PEC rues departure of English football's 'finest orator'
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 12:40
Language group Plain English Campaign says it hopes to see Jose Mourinho’s swift return to football following his departure from Chelsea Football Club. Mourinho, who refers to himself as ‘The Special One’, is well known for his love of using strange and overextended metaphors during press conferences. He is already in the hat for the campaign’s annual ‘Foot in Mouth’ award as a result of his ‘omelettes and eggs’ comments earlier this week (see below).
“Not since Eric Cantona has a footballing figure had so unique an approach to the English language.” said a Campaign spokesman. “Jose Mourinho is possibly the finest orator the English game has seen since Eric Cantona, and will be sorely missed.”
Last year, Plain English Campaign supporters voted Bill Shankly’s famous ‘life and death’ line the best footballing quote of all time.
Six of the best Mourinho quotes
- 'I am more than unhappy. Unhappy is a nice word.'
- 'The moral of the story is not to listen to those who tell you not to play the violin but stick to the tambourine.'
- 'Usually, when you score two and concede one, you win the game.'
- 'Almost. But in football, almost is almost.'
- 'It's like having a blanket that is too small for the bed. You pull the blanket up to keep your chest warm and your feet stick out. I cannot buy a bigger blanket because the supermarket is closed. But the blanket is made of cashmere.'
- 'In the supermarket you have class one, two or class three eggs and some are more expensive than others and some give you better omelettes. So when the class one eggs are in Waitrose and you cannot go there, you have a problem.'
Plain English Campaign slams EU over 'unreadable' treaty
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 12:36
Giuliano Amato, the former Italian Prime Minister, claims the new European Union treaty is deliberately 'unreadable'. The lack of clarity from the drafters is such that 'any Prime Minister - imagine the UK Prime Minister - can go to the Commons and say look, you see, it's absolutely unreadable, it's the typical Brussels treaty, nothing new, no need for a referendum'.
Plain English Campaign condemns this as an act of deception by the EU.
Press Officer Steve Jenner says "Drafters of the Treaty have a real position of power. Mr. Amato was vice-president of the body that drafted the original Constitution so he knows about this. This is a damning verdict on the new EU Treaty and the intentions of the people who produced it". "It is another example of language being used to confuse an important issue. Plain language is essential if we are to have true democracy."
Shadow Foreign Secretary William Hague highlighted Amato's comments during a recent speech at the centre for policy studies. But Foreign Secretary David Miliband, speaking at the Labour Party conference, is adamant. He insists the treaty does not contain the kind of changes which would require a national vote.
The revelations come just months after PEC director Chrissie Maher congratulated Angela Merkel for writing the EU's 50th birthday statement in plain language.
Sign the 'Crystal Clear Broadband' petition
Last Updated on Wednesday, 29 October 2008 12:33
Plain English Campaign have become an official partner in a new campaign for fairer broadband deals for UK customers. Computer Active magazine, which launched its'Crystal Clear Broadband' campaign last week, hope that it will put pressure on government and regulators to force companies to advertise typical broadband speeds rather than theoretical ones. Recently, a survey showed that nearly two-thirds of consumers are achieving less than half of the advertised download speeds from internet service providers (ISPs).
Our spokesman said "many people find modern technology complicated enough without having to plough through small print and jargon. Broadband companies have a responsibility to be honest with their customers and not rip them off."
Nearly 6000 people have signed the petition on the 10 Downing Street website, and the campaign has attracted support from several MPs, including Conservative MP, George Young. The communications regulator Ofcom also welcomed the campaign and said it was raising awareness among consumers about the issues of speed and technical limitations of broadband.
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