"Work" not "werk" language plea from Middlesbrough school principal

TOUGH TALK: Carol Walker has written to parents regarding the language their children use

TOUGH TALK: Carol Walker has written to parents regarding the language their children use

First published in News
Last updated
Darlington and Stockton Times: Photograph of the Author by , Chief Reporter (South Durham)

A SCHOOL headteacher has urged pupils to correct their sloppy language if they want them to find a good job later in life.

Parents with children at Sacred Heart Primary School, in Middlesbrough, were sent a letter by Carol Walker asking them to encourage their children to stop using phrases such as “it’s nowt” and “gizit ere”.

The letter gives advice about pronunciation and grammar and provides details of several phrases which are often used in class, but need correcting – and many will be familiar to Teessiders.

There is an emphasis on grammatical accuracy among the suggestions – for example, the correct use of “your” and “you’re”.

But others include Teesside pronunciation such as “shert” and “werk” instead of “shirt” and “work”.

“I done that” and “I seen that” are also listed as phrases to avoid and pupils are urged not to pronounce “three fifteen” as “free fifteen”.

The letter states that “yous” should not be used because the “word you is never a plural”.

The letter gives 11 incorrect phrases in a left-hand column and the correct version of each phrase in the right-hand column.

Mrs Walker, who was born in Stockton and has been headteacher at Sacred Heart for 12 years, said the aim was not to wipe out the Teesside accent, but to teach children standard English. She said: “I believe that basic communication skills are essential for life.

“We would like to equip our children to go into the world of work and not be disadvantaged.

We need the children to know there is a difference between dialect, accent and standard English. The literacy framework asks children to write in standard English where tense, subject and verb agree.

“I am not asking the children to change their dialect or accent, but I don’t want them to enter the world of work without knowing about standard English.”

Parent Cheryl Fortune, 35, a school escort for Middlesbrough Council, said: “When I saw the letter I was a bit shocked. I thought, my kids are only eight and five, so it is a bit extreme.

“If I am honest though my eldest son said, ‘yeah’ last night and my youngest said, ‘it’s yes’, so he corrected him.

“I can understand why the school has done it, to encourage people to speak properly.”

Parent Chris Allinson, 31, had not seen the letter, but thought it was a good idea.

He said: “I try to correct my daughter Jasmine’s speech if she says things incorrectly. I want her to get the best start in life.”

Comments (7)

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11:11am Wed 6 Feb 13

LinguisticDiversity says...

I heard the headteacher being interviewed on radio. Every time she used a word ending in "ing", she did not pronounce the "g"; thus "teaching" became "teachin'", etc. Glasshouses and stones came to mind. I was brought up in Manchester, and still have a distinct Mancunian twang, but it hasn't stopped me being able to write grammatically, nor did it stop me from getting a degree, a social work qualification and ultimately opening a bookshop.
I heard the headteacher being interviewed on radio. Every time she used a word ending in "ing", she did not pronounce the "g"; thus "teaching" became "teachin'", etc. Glasshouses and stones came to mind. I was brought up in Manchester, and still have a distinct Mancunian twang, but it hasn't stopped me being able to write grammatically, nor did it stop me from getting a degree, a social work qualification and ultimately opening a bookshop. LinguisticDiversity
  • Score: 0

12:18pm Wed 6 Feb 13

Ally F says...

There’s nothing wrong with local accents, regional dialects and colloquialisms, they are part of our heritage and should be celebrated. But Mrs Walker is absolutely spot-on. Children can be disadvantaged in their adult life by ‘default use’ of spoken regional slang and text-speak when writing. It is fine for informal and casual use, but not to the exclusion of knowing what is correct and proper.
A working knowledge of Standard English spelling and grammar is empowering; add to it a reasonable vocabulary developed in the child’s formative years and you really give them a spring board into adulthood. Knowledge of English grammar, syntax and structure is helpful when learning second languages. It’s never too early to start learning. Well done Mrs Walker for taking a stand.
Most people in their lives find they will need to say or write something that matters; perhaps to express an opinion, air a grievance, to write a compelling letter or argument, etc. A basic grounding in English is essential, and it’s so evidently a legacy weakness of the 80s, 90s and 00s state education system - a generation of school leavers has been equipped with inadequate English skills.
My English and Grammar are far from perfect, (there will probably be several mistakes in this.) After leaving school with poor English skills, but somehow an O Level grade C, I had to learn the hard way. I was fortunate to have a very understanding boss - he would, quite literally, take a red pen to my work and correct it. Not all employers are as understanding or tolerant; they expect, not unreasonably, their employees to read, write and speak to an adequate level.
There’s nothing wrong with local accents, regional dialects and colloquialisms, they are part of our heritage and should be celebrated. But Mrs Walker is absolutely spot-on. Children can be disadvantaged in their adult life by ‘default use’ of spoken regional slang and text-speak when writing. It is fine for informal and casual use, but not to the exclusion of knowing what is correct and proper. A working knowledge of Standard English spelling and grammar is empowering; add to it a reasonable vocabulary developed in the child’s formative years and you really give them a spring board into adulthood. Knowledge of English grammar, syntax and structure is helpful when learning second languages. It’s never too early to start learning. Well done Mrs Walker for taking a stand. Most people in their lives find they will need to say or write something that matters; perhaps to express an opinion, air a grievance, to write a compelling letter or argument, etc. A basic grounding in English is essential, and it’s so evidently a legacy weakness of the 80s, 90s and 00s state education system - a generation of school leavers has been equipped with inadequate English skills. My English and Grammar are far from perfect, (there will probably be several mistakes in this.) After leaving school with poor English skills, but somehow an O Level grade C, I had to learn the hard way. I was fortunate to have a very understanding boss - he would, quite literally, take a red pen to my work and correct it. Not all employers are as understanding or tolerant; they expect, not unreasonably, their employees to read, write and speak to an adequate level. Ally F
  • Score: 1

3:23pm Wed 6 Feb 13

shirt of blue says...

Parent Cheryl Fortune, 35, a school escort for Middlesbrough Council, said: “When I saw the letter I was a bit shocked. I thought, my kids are only eight and five, so it is a bit extreme.

In early childhood you may lay the foundation of poverty or riches, industry of idleness, good or evil, by the habits to which you train your children. Teach them right habits then, and their future life is safe.
Parent Cheryl Fortune, 35, a school escort for Middlesbrough Council, said: “When I saw the letter I was a bit shocked. I thought, my kids are only eight and five, so it is a bit extreme. In early childhood you may lay the foundation of poverty or riches, industry of idleness, good or evil, by the habits to which you train your children. Teach them right habits then, and their future life is safe. shirt of blue
  • Score: 1

8:55am Thu 7 Feb 13

doonhamer says...

Ally F wrote:
There’s nothing wrong with local accents, regional dialects and colloquialisms, they are part of our heritage and should be celebrated. But Mrs Walker is absolutely spot-on. Children can be disadvantaged in their adult life by ‘default use’ of spoken regional slang and text-speak when writing. It is fine for informal and casual use, but not to the exclusion of knowing what is correct and proper.
A working knowledge of Standard English spelling and grammar is empowering; add to it a reasonable vocabulary developed in the child’s formative years and you really give them a spring board into adulthood. Knowledge of English grammar, syntax and structure is helpful when learning second languages. It’s never too early to start learning. Well done Mrs Walker for taking a stand.
Most people in their lives find they will need to say or write something that matters; perhaps to express an opinion, air a grievance, to write a compelling letter or argument, etc. A basic grounding in English is essential, and it’s so evidently a legacy weakness of the 80s, 90s and 00s state education system - a generation of school leavers has been equipped with inadequate English skills.
My English and Grammar are far from perfect, (there will probably be several mistakes in this.) After leaving school with poor English skills, but somehow an O Level grade C, I had to learn the hard way. I was fortunate to have a very understanding boss - he would, quite literally, take a red pen to my work and correct it. Not all employers are as understanding or tolerant; they expect, not unreasonably, their employees to read, write and speak to an adequate level.
Excellent comments, couldn't agree more, then we have the idiots reply from outragedofmiltonkeyn
es to clarify just what this teacher is on about. I fear though, that with the modern culture for 'texting', using made up words and phrases, (e.g. C U instead of see you) will see the standards of elecution in our children fall way below the standards of what older people would expect of them. When I went to school a pod was a pea pod, now it's an i (eye ?) pod, a tweet was a sound from a bird, on line was when you were travelling by train etc, etc. Lets hope commonsense prevails and employers stick to their guns or the lunatics will indeed take over the asylum.
[quote][p][bold]Ally F[/bold] wrote: There’s nothing wrong with local accents, regional dialects and colloquialisms, they are part of our heritage and should be celebrated. But Mrs Walker is absolutely spot-on. Children can be disadvantaged in their adult life by ‘default use’ of spoken regional slang and text-speak when writing. It is fine for informal and casual use, but not to the exclusion of knowing what is correct and proper. A working knowledge of Standard English spelling and grammar is empowering; add to it a reasonable vocabulary developed in the child’s formative years and you really give them a spring board into adulthood. Knowledge of English grammar, syntax and structure is helpful when learning second languages. It’s never too early to start learning. Well done Mrs Walker for taking a stand. Most people in their lives find they will need to say or write something that matters; perhaps to express an opinion, air a grievance, to write a compelling letter or argument, etc. A basic grounding in English is essential, and it’s so evidently a legacy weakness of the 80s, 90s and 00s state education system - a generation of school leavers has been equipped with inadequate English skills. My English and Grammar are far from perfect, (there will probably be several mistakes in this.) After leaving school with poor English skills, but somehow an O Level grade C, I had to learn the hard way. I was fortunate to have a very understanding boss - he would, quite literally, take a red pen to my work and correct it. Not all employers are as understanding or tolerant; they expect, not unreasonably, their employees to read, write and speak to an adequate level.[/p][/quote]Excellent comments, couldn't agree more, then we have the idiots reply from outragedofmiltonkeyn es to clarify just what this teacher is on about. I fear though, that with the modern culture for 'texting', using made up words and phrases, (e.g. C U instead of see you) will see the standards of elecution in our children fall way below the standards of what older people would expect of them. When I went to school a pod was a pea pod, now it's an i (eye ?) pod, a tweet was a sound from a bird, on line was when you were travelling by train etc, etc. Lets hope commonsense prevails and employers stick to their guns or the lunatics will indeed take over the asylum. doonhamer
  • Score: 0

9:21pm Fri 8 Feb 13

outragedofmiltonkeynes says...

doonhamer wrote:
Ally F wrote:
There’s nothing wrong with local accents, regional dialects and colloquialisms, they are part of our heritage and should be celebrated. But Mrs Walker is absolutely spot-on. Children can be disadvantaged in their adult life by ‘default use’ of spoken regional slang and text-speak when writing. It is fine for informal and casual use, but not to the exclusion of knowing what is correct and proper.
A working knowledge of Standard English spelling and grammar is empowering; add to it a reasonable vocabulary developed in the child’s formative years and you really give them a spring board into adulthood. Knowledge of English grammar, syntax and structure is helpful when learning second languages. It’s never too early to start learning. Well done Mrs Walker for taking a stand.
Most people in their lives find they will need to say or write something that matters; perhaps to express an opinion, air a grievance, to write a compelling letter or argument, etc. A basic grounding in English is essential, and it’s so evidently a legacy weakness of the 80s, 90s and 00s state education system - a generation of school leavers has been equipped with inadequate English skills.
My English and Grammar are far from perfect, (there will probably be several mistakes in this.) After leaving school with poor English skills, but somehow an O Level grade C, I had to learn the hard way. I was fortunate to have a very understanding boss - he would, quite literally, take a red pen to my work and correct it. Not all employers are as understanding or tolerant; they expect, not unreasonably, their employees to read, write and speak to an adequate level.
Excellent comments, couldn't agree more, then we have the idiots reply from outragedofmiltonkeyn

es to clarify just what this teacher is on about. I fear though, that with the modern culture for 'texting', using made up words and phrases, (e.g. C U instead of see you) will see the standards of elecution in our children fall way below the standards of what older people would expect of them. When I went to school a pod was a pea pod, now it's an i (eye ?) pod, a tweet was a sound from a bird, on line was when you were travelling by train etc, etc. Lets hope commonsense prevails and employers stick to their guns or the lunatics will indeed take over the asylum.
Idiots reply? I think you will find it was an entirely accurate statement and the solution is the only viable one.
[quote][p][bold]doonhamer[/bold] wrote: [quote][p][bold]Ally F[/bold] wrote: There’s nothing wrong with local accents, regional dialects and colloquialisms, they are part of our heritage and should be celebrated. But Mrs Walker is absolutely spot-on. Children can be disadvantaged in their adult life by ‘default use’ of spoken regional slang and text-speak when writing. It is fine for informal and casual use, but not to the exclusion of knowing what is correct and proper. A working knowledge of Standard English spelling and grammar is empowering; add to it a reasonable vocabulary developed in the child’s formative years and you really give them a spring board into adulthood. Knowledge of English grammar, syntax and structure is helpful when learning second languages. It’s never too early to start learning. Well done Mrs Walker for taking a stand. Most people in their lives find they will need to say or write something that matters; perhaps to express an opinion, air a grievance, to write a compelling letter or argument, etc. A basic grounding in English is essential, and it’s so evidently a legacy weakness of the 80s, 90s and 00s state education system - a generation of school leavers has been equipped with inadequate English skills. My English and Grammar are far from perfect, (there will probably be several mistakes in this.) After leaving school with poor English skills, but somehow an O Level grade C, I had to learn the hard way. I was fortunate to have a very understanding boss - he would, quite literally, take a red pen to my work and correct it. Not all employers are as understanding or tolerant; they expect, not unreasonably, their employees to read, write and speak to an adequate level.[/p][/quote]Excellent comments, couldn't agree more, then we have the idiots reply from outragedofmiltonkeyn es to clarify just what this teacher is on about. I fear though, that with the modern culture for 'texting', using made up words and phrases, (e.g. C U instead of see you) will see the standards of elecution in our children fall way below the standards of what older people would expect of them. When I went to school a pod was a pea pod, now it's an i (eye ?) pod, a tweet was a sound from a bird, on line was when you were travelling by train etc, etc. Lets hope commonsense prevails and employers stick to their guns or the lunatics will indeed take over the asylum.[/p][/quote]Idiots reply? I think you will find it was an entirely accurate statement and the solution is the only viable one. outragedofmiltonkeynes
  • Score: 0

11:42am Sun 10 Feb 13

Pete Winstanley says...

Follow this link:
.
http://www.guardian.
co.uk/commentisfree/
2013/feb/08/taalk-pr
oper?INTCMP=SRCH
Follow this link: . http://www.guardian. co.uk/commentisfree/ 2013/feb/08/taalk-pr oper?INTCMP=SRCH Pete Winstanley
  • Score: 0

2:58am Thu 14 Feb 13

klmlfc says...

Language plea by Sacred Heart Primary School: Have they undervalued the concept of context?

http://scouseky7lfc2
012.blogspot.co.uk/
Language plea by Sacred Heart Primary School: Have they undervalued the concept of context? http://scouseky7lfc2 012.blogspot.co.uk/ klmlfc
  • Score: 0

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