Who is for the sack?

News story: Department for Educatino: what do you think about our website content?

7 November, 2013 at 04:37pm

Obviously the government information service responsible for the production of the government’s daily bulletin doesn’t employ a spell checker. I wonder how Mr Gove will have reacted on Friday when the above headline landed on his desk, or more accurately in his inbox? Will the poor information officer be able to shrug it off as a bit of the finger trouble we all experience when at the word processor? Indeed, I have already had to correct several mistakes in what I have just entered in the first four lines of this piece. I also understand about the blindness when it comes to proof reading something you have just written. Regular readers of this blog will have spotted the grammatical indiscretions, missing words and even mis-spelt words that have appeared from time to time. But, I am not the government, and I don’t receive any funding for writing this blog: I write it because I want to communicate facts and issues to a wider group, and the power of the internet allows me to do so.

Can you just imagine if a letter to the Secretary of State had arrived from a school addressed to the Department for Educatino? No doubt the offending document would be held up in parliament at a suitable point with some coruscating remark from the Secretary of State, along the lines of the fact such a mistake would never have happened in the days of fine penmanship.  Of course it might have, but before the internet we were much less exposed to these trivial errors. Now, if it had been a video clip it would undoubtedly have gone viral on one of the many media sites.

I hope that this faux pas is seen for what it was, a slip of a mind that was working faster than the hand, and because of the underline the red warning of a mis-spelt word was overlooked. An apology on Monday will suffice to restore the status quo, and we can all go on to comment on the DfE’s web site that is in my view not of a very good quality. But, would I want the DfE to spend more money on improving it or on improving the education of the children in our schools: a no brainer really.

One of my earliest forays into the world of education data was to point out to Hansard that they had printed the wrong pupil teacher ratios for some local authorities in answer to a PQ. In those days, more than 30 years ago, the written word stood, and even if a revised version appeared a day later it could not be cross referenced to anyone consulting the original. In that respect technology has offered us a chance to change the record. Whether that is a good or a bad thing is a matter for debate.


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